Can You Fly a Drone in Santorini?
On the Aegean Sea is Santorini, part of the Cyclades Islands. Known for the towns of Oia and Fira, its beaches, and its gorgeous cubiform homes, Santorini undoubtedly has its own unique flavor.
Can you fly a drone in Santorini, Greece?
The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority permits drones in Santorini. However, before you can launch, you must have HCAA approval and prior drone registration. You must also clear your flight plans with the authorities. Follow all HCAA and European Union Aviation Safety Agency rules when flying.
If you plan to visit Santorini for either business or pleasure, you can’t miss this informative guide.
We’ll talk further about operating a drone along the Grecian coast, where you can fly, and what kinds of fines you might incur for violating the rules.
Let’s get started!
Can you fly a drone in Santorini?
The HCAA creates the rules for drone flight in Greece. Under their jurisdiction, drones are permitted throughout Greece, including in Santorini.
Since Greece is a part of the European Union, the country also requires drone pilots to follow the European Union Aviation Safety Agency rules.
Keep reading for EASA categorization requirements, as we’ll talk about them later.
It’s not as easy as arriving in Greece, unpacking your drone, finding a place to fly, and launching. Before you can fly, you must first register your drone, then receive approvals.
Registering your drone
Where do you have your drone registered? If you’re a well-traveled pilot and you’ve registered with another country within the European Union, you can skip this section, as you’re good to go.
However, if you’ve only registered in the United States under the FAA or registered your drone in a country outside of the European Union, you must register in Greece.
The registration isn’t for your drone but for pilots. The HCAA wants to know who’s flying drones in Greece and make them accountable for any illegal usage (more on that to come!).
Not every pilot must register their UAVs.
If your drone has a camera or microphone and doesn’t fit the classification of a toy drone, and if the drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds and can achieve speeds of over 55 miles per hour, you must register it.
Plan to register before you fly to Greece. To get the process underway as a non-European Union resident, email HCAA at [email protected].
It can take at least three days for the HCAA to get to your request and potentially even longer, so plan accordingly.
This HCAA page details the registration process.
If the HCAA approves your registration request, you’ll receive a registration number. Affix that to your UAV.
Although each registration number is unique, you still only get one, even if you have a fleet of drones. You should use the same number for each drone you own.
Remember, it’s your registration number, not your drone’s!
Applying for flight approval
Once you’ve registered your drone in Greece, you’re still not ready to take it to the Santorini skies.
Commercial pilots, non-European Union residents with a new European registration, and European residents touring Greece must obtain flight approval.
You’ll have to contact HCAA, this time using the email address [email protected].
You also must include the following information:
- A copy of your Remote Pilot Certificate
- A copy of your active drone registration
- Insurance information (commercial pilots must have insurance, while recreational pilots only need insurance if their drone exceeds 4 kilograms in weight)
- A flight area map of where you plan to use your drone (that doesn’t mean you’ll receive approval for those exact usages)
- A drone map of each flight you plan to take with a hand-drawn route (you can use the DAGR website, then Draw Mode to create said route)
- A print screen of your flight area map using a 1,000 or 2,000-meter scale sent as an attachment in your email
- Map coordinates (you can create map coordinates by going to the DAGR website, choosing the Flight Manager option, and inputting coordinates)
- The dates you plan to use your drone and several alternative dates in case your first dates aren’t available
Keep in mind that you must include the above information for each flight path you plan to take unless said paths are the same.
You’re also required to include these details:
- Your full name
- Your passport number
- Your nationality
- Your hotel address (or whatever your lodging option is) while in Greece)
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Drone brand, model, and type
- Drone serial number
- Drone weight in kilograms with camera equipment (as applicable)
- Geofencing details
- Open category or any subcategories
- Insurance certificate
What are the fines for violating Santorini drone rules?
Drone laws don’t exist to be broken, at least not unless you don’t mind paying substantial fines.
If you fly your drone in Santorini without going through the above protocols for flight authorization, you will receive a fine.
You’ll have to pay at least 500 euros, with higher fines of up to 250,000 euros. That’s $539 USD to $269,542 USD, so the fines are quite serious!
Greece drone laws to know for your trip to Santorini
You went through the correct channels and registered for your trip to Santorini. You also obtained flight permission.
Before you fly, don’t miss these Greece drone laws, which are all enforceable by the HCAA while flying in Santorini.
Your drone must meet Open specifications
EASA organizes drones into one of three categories: Certified, Specific, and Open according to how a pilot uses the UAV and how much it weighs.
Your drone meets Open specifications if it’s categorized with an identification label between 0 and 4.
You must have purchased the UAV before January 1st, 2023, and it cannot weigh more than 25 kilograms or 55 pounds.
You also cannot use your drone over people unless it weighs under 250 kilograms or 0.55 pounds.
You must not use your UAV for transporting hazardous goods, and you can’t drop anything you carry on your drone.
Further, you must meet altitude and VLOS requirements as established by the HCAA.
Do not fly your drone more than 122 meters in the air
If you’re a registered pilot, you can fly your drone 122 meters or 400 feet high and 500 meters or 1,640 feet of distance.
Unregistered pilots can only fly within 50 meters.
You must maintain VLOS
Visual line of sight or VLOS must be your top priority when operating your drone in Santorini.
You should always be able to see your drone using your natural sight, glasses, or contacts. If you can’t, you need to either return it to home or ask a visual observer to watch it for you.
Do not fly your drone close to crowds
In Santorini and greater Greece, you cannot use your drone close to other people.
Avoid airports, military properties, private properties, and other critical infrastructure
The list of where you cannot fly a drone in Greece is vast. You must stay 8 kilometers from any airport.
You’re also prohibited from using your drone in or over military bases, private property, and sensitive areas like government facilities, hospitals, and prisons.
If you’re using your drone around private property that doesn’t belong to you, you must have permission from the property owner first.
Do not use your drone at night
Operating a drone after sunset in Greece so don’t try it!
Do not operate your drone over 55 pounds
Check the weight of your drone before lifting off. It’s illegal for your drone setup to weigh more than 55 pounds and fly, as you’re a flight risk.
Santorini is a gorgeous place to visit, and it’s even more fun to use a drone.
The villages of Akrotiri and Oia permit drone use, as does much else of Santorini, but you’re subject to HCAA and EASA rules.
When flying in a new country, always use a drone map. You can download a drone app with real-time maps so you can track restricted zones, warning zones, and temporary flight restrictions.
Have fun and safe flying!