How to fly a drone in Iceland

I got a question about drone flying in Iceland. I've picked up some experiences that might help other drone pilots, so here's the summary.


- On a plane, it's like in most other countries. You can put the drone in your suitcase, but the batteries, power banks and controller in your hand luggage. No one will have a problem.


- For normal drone use, the classic rules apply, comparable to the EU. 120m, airport, people, traffic, you know. (right? 😃)


- they want you to be insured for the drone. This isn't cheap fun, but you'll enjoy it all over Europe. Most people in the Czech Republic get their insurance through Mrs Bernatova from Renomia.cz.


- Most tourist spots actually have no drone signs, but the ban automatically applies in all national parks and reserves. But it's solvable.


There are various possible restrictions on why you can't fly and how to solve it:


1) National parks - you can write to the national park administration and tell them where to fly and on what days. They will reply within two weeks, usually positively, or adjust the flight time or give some recommendations. The great thing is that it's free.


There are three national parks and their area can be seen on Google maps as a green spot, List maps will show you the entire boundaries.


For Vatnajökull park, which will be of interest to most people (the glacier, the Jokursarlon lagoon, but also the Detifoss waterfall in the north), there is a sufficient list here:


https://vatnajokulstjodgardur.oneportal.is/opnarumsoknir/Application.aspx?id=201


2) Nature reserves / parks / monuments - even there, by default, you are not allowed to fly, whether there is a sign or not. Here, you have to write to the Environment Protection Agency, it takes 2-3 weeks to sort out. The plus is that you can give a generous time extension (e.g. 3 weeks), the disadvantage is that it is paid, about 9000 CZK.


Sometimes they are also marked green on the map (but not necessarily), it's more like googling to see if the place you are going to belongs to a reservation. Spoiler: most of the tourist spots belong there.


For more info and to find out more: https://ust.is/english/nature-conservations/drones-in-protected-areas/flights-in-protected-areas


You can also send a request to both the National Parks and the EPA on site, but you'll need to give them at least a week to deal with it.


3) Some places are not protected, but there are restrictions given directly by the adjacent landowners. This applies to the Fjaðrárgljúfur canon, for example. But they didn't put any signs about no drones thereand the information is not public anywhere, so I wouldn't really address it here. Here too, you can try to reach an agreement with the owners. In my experience it's a bit of a lottery as to how they will handle it and often you can't get in touch with them. But it's worth a try.


4) You may come across an interesting place that somehow falls under the extensive grounds of one of the many farms. Farmers can be very sensitive and carry the remnants of Viking warriorism, so from my own experience I recommend not to provoke them and not to pity them over sheep or over the barracks 😃 Again, try to make a deal 🙂 .


And beware that a lot of promising dirt roads, which you can find on Google Maps or even more on Seznam Maps, are behind the gate to the pasture. This is almost automatically a private road on private land and if you don't want to see the Valhalla gate too early, stay in front of this gate (and rather a generous chunk away from it).


5) Finally, some interesting places are not accessible by a proper road, but you get the idea to go offroad over the map. Please don't do this - in the soft Icelandic puddle, car tracks are left behind, and they are constantly deepened by the water flowing into them. They bury them manually and there are heavy fines for offroading (even over 100k Kc). If you do, take a walk and walk a kilometer or two through the terrain (but definitely not over glaciers and sometimes even lava fields are dangerous, don't even bite the snow - there are muddy holes).


I tried to follow all these rules and it would be great if the others did too. There are a lot of drones in Iceland and if nothing else (beware, unpopular opinion-), the buzzing is really annoying, especially when several drones meet over one place. So don't piss off the Icelanders and the local authorities even more. Besides, the restrictions are not draconian, they make sense and permits can be arranged with helpful officials. So let's be good guests 🙂


A few more recommendations especially for September and October:


- don't have the ambition to plan your itinerary exactly for the day, the weather will change your plans all the time. The wind may be too brutal quite often, it rains or even snows quite often and it changes after an hour.


- many places are reached only by unmaintained "dirt" F roads, so you need to rent a 4x4 {among other reasons, because according to Icelandic rules you are not allowed to take more than 4 wheels there).


- From the end of September until about May or June, many F roads in the interior are closed and you can only go there with an organized tour to take photos. At the same time, everything is under snow and there are very short days, so you should only go shooting if you really want to.