Drone Laws in Switzerland
Drone regulations and links for people flying drones in Switzerland.
Switzerland Drone Regulations
According to Switzerland’s national aviation authority, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), flying a drone is legal in Switzerland, but we recommend being aware of and compliant with the drone regulations listed below before doing so.
If you’d like to contact the FOCA directly before you travel with any questions you might have, here is their contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org / +41 58 465 80 39
Why fly a drone in Switzerland? To get great aerial shots like these!
General Rules for Flying a Drone Within the European Union
Switzerland has adopted the European Union drone laws and therefore must abide by the regulations put in place by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In addition to these regulations, Switzerland also has regulations that are country-specific.
Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone within the European Union.
There are three operational categories that determine drone regulations based on the weight of the drone and the intended operation. This section will only cover the Open Category, to see all European Union laws and categories, click here.
A drone can be operated in the “Open “category if:
- The drone has one of the class identification labels 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4.
- The drone was purchased before 1 January 2023, with no class identification label as above.
- The drone has a maximum take-off mass of less than 25 kg (55 lbs).
- The remote pilot keeps the drone at a safe distance away from people.
- The drone will not be operated directly over people unless it has a class identification label or is lighter than 250 g (0.55 lbs). (Please refer to subcategories of operations: A1, A2, and A3 to find out where you can fly with your drone).
- The remote pilot will maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) or the remote pilot will be assisted by a UA observer.
- The remote pilot will not operate the drone above 120m (400ft).
- The drone will not carry any dangerous goods and will not drop any material.
General Rules for Flying a Drone in Switzerland
Based on our research and interpretation of the laws, here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Switzerland.
- If the pilot always has direct eye contact with his drone he or she may operate without a permit.
- If someone wants to use technical aids such as binoculars or video glasses in order to increase the natural sight of the eyes, a license from the FOCA is required. Learn more about the licensing process here.
- Within the visual line of sight the pilot may use FPV goggles or similar tools, provided that a second visual observer monitors the flight and if necessary can intervene to the control the aircraft at any time.
- An automated flight (i.e., autonomous operation of a drone) within the field of vision of the pilot is permitted, provided that the pilot can intervene to control of the drone at any time if required .
- Within hunting or protected areas for water and migratory birds, flying drones is prohibited without exception.
- Aerial photography is permitted as long as the regulations for the protection of military installations are taken into account. Attention must be paid to the protection of privacy and the provisions of the Data Protection Act.
- As a matter of principle, drones should not be operated over crowds or within 100 meters (328 feet) of crowds. Learn more here.
- If you operate a drone with a weight of more than 500 grams (1.1 pounds), you must guarantee at least 1 million francs for any damage.
- Drones may not be flown within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of an airport.
- Cantons and municipalities may issue additional restrictions on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. See this example for the canton of Geneva.
- For public air events, in which only model airplanes or drones are used, no approval is required from the FOCA.
For more information on Switzerland’s drone laws, see this page on the FOCA website.
Know something we don’t about drone laws in Switzerland? Send us an email at support[at]uavcoach[dot]com. We are not international aviation attorneys and do our best to keep this page up-to-date for drone pilots, but the reality is that given the pace of the small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) industry and how governments are responding, drone regulations in Switzerland can change throughout the year, and those changes can be hard to track. If we missed something, please reach out to let us know.
Want to get a feel for the kind of footage you could get flying a drone in Switzerland? Here you go: