Before you can fly your drone in The Bahamas, there are a few regulations you need to comply with. In fact, all drone operations in The Bahamas require a permit. However, obtaining these permits doesn’t require anything too crazy. If you follow the few steps below, this is what your footage can look like.
1. Register Your Drone With The Civil Aviation Authority
To legally operate your drone, you’ll first need to register with the Civil Aviation Authority Bahamas. This is pretty quick and just requires simple information about your aircraft and who will be operating it. I did need to submit my drone registration from the United States as well before I could get the permit, but it was easy and free. This paperwork will grant you a flying license for the duration of your stay, so keep it with you at all times! Please note that if you are getting compensation for aerial work (commercial flight), this request will need to be approved by the minister, which may take some extra time.
2. Get A Film Permit
I’ll be honest, I skipped this step because I was only using my drone for recreational purposes and I didn’t run into any trouble. However, if you are flying for commercial purposes, you can get a permit from The Bahamas Film and Television Commission. Please note that you will be charged one percent of the total cost of your budget (minimum $10, maximum $500) as a processing fee.
3. Get Authorization of Operation From Select Locations
During my visit to The Bahamas, I also skipped this step, but I wish I hadn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was able to fly everywhere I wanted…except for this one spot. Just off of the coast of Staniel Cay is a sunken plane that I was hoping to grab some footage of. Unfortunately, I hadn’t secured permission from the controlled airspace, so I physically was not able to bring my drone into flight without uploading this required paperwork to its drive.
In order to obtain permission, you need to request authority to fly from the Civil Aviation Department at least 7 days in advance. Check out Subdivision III: Request for Authorization of Schedule 27 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations for more information on how to apply.
4. Get Through Customs
Essentially, the only paperwork you will need upon arrival at the airport in order to get your drone through customs is the Civil Aviation Department Certificate of Registration. If you have this, you should be able to get through without having your drone confiscated or paying a Duty Tax. I’ll be honest, when I landed in Great Exuma, my paperwork wasn’t even checked. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this experience may differ depending on which island you fly into and who happens to be working.
With these few steps, you’ll be on your way to cruising above the tropical turquoise waves of the Caribbean in no time. Don’t forget to comment your footage from The Bahamas on this post or tag me on Instagram when you’re done. I can’t wait to see what you get!
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