Nepal

Contributor: Devendra Pradhan

General

1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?

Yes. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (“CAAN”), which is the main regulatory body with jurisdiction over civil aviation, defines an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (“UAV”) as a “remotely piloted aircraft”.  Currently, only UAV’s that weigh less than 20 kg are permitted in Nepal. UAV’s that weigh more than 20 kg are not permitted. Please note that throughout this questionnaire, the terms “UAV” and “UAS” are used interchangeably.

2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?

CAAN is the main government body regulating remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in Nepal.  The main regulations that apply to UAV’s in Nepal are:

  1. CAAN’s Flight Operations Directives, No. 07, May 2015 (“Directives); and
  2. The Ministry of Home Affairs (“MOHA”)’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Flight Procedure 2016 (“Procedure”).UAV-related regulations do not distinguish between “State UAV” and “Private UAV.”

3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?

UAV-related regulations do not distinguish between “State UAV” and “Private UAV.”

4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?

If the UAV operation is to be operated for commercial purposes, an additional recommendation letter from the relevant government ministry, in addition to the documents specified in our response to Q8 below, is required.  For example, conducting an aerial survey of a farmland for commercial farming through a UAV operation requires a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Agricultural Development. All other UAV-related regulations apply equally to public, leisure and commercial UAV.

5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?

The Procedure lists three types of UAV’s: Autonomous UAV; Programmable UAV; and UAV controlled via radio transmissions through remote-controlled device.  Please note that autonomous UAV’s are prohibited in Nepal.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety

6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?

To ensure safety of UAV operations, the Directives and Procedure specify certain conditions that all UAV operators must abide by, which are as follows:

  1. The UAV operator (“operator”) may not drop any article from a UAV.
  2. The operator must maintain direct visual contact with the UAV and monitor its path vis-à-vis other persons, vehicles, vessels and structures in order to avoid collisions.
  3. Airport areas, including take-off and landing paths, must remain free of all UAV at all times regardless of altitude.
  4. UAV that conducts surveillance activities (such as observation or inspection) may not fly over or within 150 meters of any congested area, over or within 150 meters of an organized open-air assembly of more than 1000 persons; within 50 meters of any vessel, vehicle or structure, which is not under the operator’s control; or within 50 meters of any person.
  5. During take-off or landing, a UAV may not be flown within 30 meters of any person (other than the operator).
  6. UAV’s may be operated during the daytime in Visual Meteorological Conditions (“VMC”) only.
  7. Security Clearance letter is required from the MOHA or the local security agency, which is the local police station with jurisdiction over the area where the UAV is to be flown.
  8. The UAV’s Specified Endurance must be limited to 15 minutes and the flight must be limited to horizontal distance of 300 meters from the operator and within an altitude of 100 meters.
  9. Prior to flight, the local security agency must be informed and any information, aerial photos, or maps obtained after the flight must be submitted to local government and security agency.
  10. CAAN may impose additional terms and conditions at the time of issuing its permission to fly the UAV.

7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?

The applicable regulations do not have any provision regarding the rule of 1 UAV = 1 pilot.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing

8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?

Please refer to the following for the documentary and procedural requirements to obtain permission to operate a UAV.

  1. Application Letter to CAAN;
  2. A copy of the UAV’s Operation Specifications;
  3. A copy of map showing the Operation Area where the UAV will be flown;
  4. A copy of map showing the latitude and longitude of Operation Area;
  5. No objection letter from the Ministry of Information and Communication for  the UAV’s frequency (if requested by the MOHA);
  6. Security clearance letter from either the MOHA, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s security agencies,  or the local security agency (i.e. a local police station) with jurisdiction over the Operation Area);
  7. Permission from the Department of Tourism (if the applicant is a foreigner); and
  8. No objection letter from the relevant owner or government authority, if the UAV operation is to be operated over private or public property.

The application must be submitted at least 7 working days before the date of UAV operation.  Upon review of the application, including the above documents, CAAN will issue its permission to operate a UAV.  The operation of the UAV must be conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions as specified by CAAN.

Please note that remotely controlled aerial toys weighing less than 2 kg that operate within private property within 200 ft. above ground level do not require separate permission from CAAN.  However, depending on the type of UAV and its usage, permission from MOHA or a local security agency may be required, even for UAV’s that are less than 2 kg that are operating within 200 ft. above ground level.

9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?

A fee of USD 10 (+ 13% VAT) must be paid to CAAN when CAAN issues its permission for UAV operation.

10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?

A Certificate of Airworthiness is not required to operate a UAV.

11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?

There is no regulation regarding access to the market for UAV operation services.

12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?

There is no specific legislation regulating areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAV.

13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?

Transportation of any item via drone is not permitted.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others

14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?

Though there is no separate regulation related to protection of data and privacy, conducting a UAV flight in a manner that interferes with individual privacy or peace and security of the general public is prohibited under the Directives and Procedure.

15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?

The UAV operation must be limited to horizontal distance of 300 meters from the operator and within an altitude of 100 meters.

16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?

There are no specific rules regulating UAV manufacturers.

17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?

As specified in our response to Q8 above, a foreigner intending to fly a UAV during their visit to Nepal must also obtain an additional permission from the Department of Tourism.

18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?

There are no provisions regulating fares or pricing of UAV operations

The Aircraft (“UAS”)

19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?

A UAV does not have to be registered in any particular register.

20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?

N/A

21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?

N/A

22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?

There is no specific rule in connection with the maintenance of UAV.

Operation Zones

23. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?

The UAV operation must be limited to horizontal distance of 300 meters from the operator and within an altitude of 100 meters. In addition, a UAV may not be operated in airport areas, including take-off and landing; airspace controlled by Air Traffic Control, and flight pathways. Similarly, a UAV may not be operated within:

  • An aerial radius distance of 1000 meters of security agencies, such as police stations, army bases etc.;
  • 5000 meters of horizontal distance from international border;
  • Private home/land of others;
  • Public areas of significant religious and cultural importance;
  • Sensitive archaeological sites that are considered No Fly Zones by the relevant government authority; and
  • Additional areas designated by MOHA or CAAN as No Fly Zone from time-to-time.

To operate beyond the above limitations, specific permission from CAAN is required.

24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?

UAVs are not obligated to take-off from and/or land in specific facilities.

25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?

CAAN and the MOHA have not designated specific airspace for UAV operations, though there are restrictions on the kind of airspaces that UAV’s are permitted to operate in.  For example, a UAV operation must be limited to horizontal distance of 300 meters from the operator and within an altitude of 100 meters. For additional restrictions, please refer to our response to Q23 above.

26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?

Please refer to our response to Q23 above for details regarding the areas that are restricted for UAV operations.

27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?

Please refer to our response to Q23 above for details regarding the areas that are restricted for UAV operations.

28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?

When applicable, air traffic control services are provided by the respective air traffic control of the nearest airport in the area where the UAV is being flown.

Liability and Accidents

29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?

Any liability for harm to person or damage to property caused by UAV operation must be borne by the UAV operator.

30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?

Any liability for harm to person or damage to property caused by UAV operation must be borne by the UAV operator.

31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?

Though a mandatory accident and incident report system is not specified under UAV-related regulations, any accident or incident involving a UAV must immediately be reported to CAAN for further investigation.

32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?

There are no specific system and procedures in place for investigation of UAV accidents.  Investigation involving a UAV operation is conducted by CAAN upon receiving accident report on a case-by-case basis.

33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?

UAV operators are not obligated to have insurance for their operations.

34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?

N/A

Financial Support and State Aid

35. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?

There are no rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies in the UAV sector by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid).

36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?

N/A

37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?

N/A

38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?

N/A

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