Everybody knows how much fun it is to fly with a drone – and the images/videos you can take with it are just out of this world. That is the case everywhere around the world, but in my opinion, even more in Switzerland. It is not only a paradise full of nature but also a perfect location for drones. Flying drones in Switzerland is a lot of fun – and currently, there are not so many drone restrictions in Switzerland. Still, it can happen quite fast that you break rules (without even knowing) and be a potential danger for others. Therefore it is really important to know the Swiss drone laws to enjoy your adventures without any bad outcomes.
Table of Contents
Updated: November 2018
*This article contains affiliate links, with which I may earn commissions if you purchase one of the linked products (at no additional costs for you).
Hobby or commercial pilot?
If you are a hobby pilot this is great, as the rules for that are much easier and it’s exactly what we will cover in our blog post. Note that you fall under this category as long as you don’t produce commercial content – so if you are a local, tourist or from another planet – it doesn’t matter and in most cases, you will be covered with the information listed here. If you are a commercial pilot, you must obtain a permission to fly your drone. You can contact the Federal Bureau of Civil Aviation for more information. (Mail: [email protected])
General rules for drones in Switzerland
Generally speaking drones in Switzerland underlie the same legislation as a model aircraft if their weight is between 0,5kg to 30kg, which is the case for most drones you can buy. You don’t need a permit for drones under a weight of 30kg if you observe the following rules:
- You must be outside of all protected zones (more below)
- There must be visual contact with your drone during the whole flight
- Operations are only allowed at least 5 kilometers away from civil aviation or military runways
- The minimum distance to a group of people (24 or more) has to be 100 meters or more
- Take care of the rules that protect privacy (you can’t film a person or their property for example)
- You need to be insured for damages with your drone for up to 1 Million Swiss Francs
You see, the rules are manageable but still, very important to know. I heard of some cases were drone pilots had to pay huge fines when they were caught. All these rules apply for the most-used drones like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro or the DJI Phantom 4.
FREE Drones in Switzerland Cheat Sheet
Want to have all rules & laws for drones in Switzerland on a handy overview? Simply subscribe & download our FREE cheat sheet and print it before your trip.
Drones in Switzerland Free Cheat Sheet
Drones under 500g
Until now we were just talking about drones that are heavier than 0,5 kilograms, but what if a drone is actually lighter? Are there no rules at all? Drones of this category are the DJI Mavic Air or DJI Spark.
Well, we are still in Switzerland and we have many rules and laws for almost everything. Therefore there are also some laws for flying drones in Switzerland if they are below 0,5 kilograms (500 grams). Yet, it is true that there are much fewer restrictions than with a heavier drone.
In theory, you can fly your drone everywhere except in nature conservation zones. Compared to heavier drones, it is also allowed to fly your drone above a gathering of people, as long as you have eye contact with your drone. However, you are responsible for possible damages and still have to respect the privacy of everybody.
I usually recommend following the same rules as with the heavier drones, as they are really not too strict and you can be sure to be completely safe.
You might think: “What the hell is an RPAS Map?” I thought the same! However, the interactive RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) map will be your best friend when trying to fly with drones in Switzerland.
It shows you all locations in whole Switzerland where special rules or restrictions apply. This includes all airports, military runways, protected nature zones, hunting grounds, and other protected areas. Before you start your drone you can check the map, that is an official source, right here. They also provide an application for your smartphones.
For example, it is not allowed to fly drones in Interlaken, Zermatt or Lucerne. If you want to do it anyways you can make a request for an exception. In my opinion, it is pretty hard to get one if you’re not connected with some sort of media or doing commercial work (where you need a permission anyways).
The RPAS Map is highly recommended, especially when you are planning your future trip – as you can see where flying drones in Switzerland is possible.
DJi offers some maps on which you can see most international restriction areas – also for Switzerland. You can find them on their website or in the DJi app once you start and connect your drone. While these maps are great and most of the times accurate, I wouldn’t blindly trust them. I met a Spanish traveler in Interlaken that was about to start his drone – and simply didn’t know that it was forbidden to fly there. In fact, it could have been really dangerous, as there are military jets flying around pretty frequently.
That’s why I suggest using the official RPAS maps while flying drones in Switzerland, as it is always up to date and shows all drone restriction areas of Switzerland – while being an official and reliable resource.
Yes and no. There is not a rule against the use of a Virtual Reality system in general, yet there are some restrictions that make the use of it almost impossible if you don’t want to put a lot of effort into it.
You will need a second “pilot” that has eye contact with the drone at any time of the flight and can take over the control if he needs to. Other than that it is just possible with a special permit.
There is one more thing that you have to consider: Some villages are starting to make their own laws for drones in Switzerland – which is, in fact, not really possible, as the airspace is not owned by them. Yet, I wouldn’t recommend trying your luck by doing it – as it can result in high fines. One place that did a rule like this is Flims (in Graubünden), where it is now forbidden to fly in some areas (for example Lake Cauma).
Future of Swiss drone laws
As there were some incidents with drones in Switzerland in the last months and the general situation is quite uncovered, Swiss and European politicians are currently discussing about new restrictions and laws for drones in Switzerland. This would affect everybody that is interested in flying with a drone in Switzerland.
As for now, there is no official law that is confirmed, however, it looks like everybody will need to do a license – in order to fly with a drone in Switzerland. From what I read it is planned to be an online “knowledge” course so that everybody that wants to fly his drone (legally) has a proper knowledge about all laws and restrictions. Once I know more, I will keep you updated!
There are many great drones available – and it can sometimes be hard to choose the right one for your needs. Here are my personal recommendations:
DJI Mavic 2 Pro: Probably the best drone you can get for your money right now! It’s small, silent and creates incredible content in both images and videos. It will be the drone that I buy next!
DJI Phantom 4: Exceptional quality for a great price – however, it is a bit chunky and not the best option if you travel by plane.
DJI Mavic Air: Probably the best drone that is lighter than 0,5 kilograms, and therefore a great option for Switzerland. The quality is still good but compared to the two mentioned above a bit worse. If you are a hobby pilot, this is one of the best options though.
There are certainly dozens of other options, but I believe, that these are the best that you can get currently. I personally still use the DJi Mavic Pro (1) and I’m really happy with it, but will invest in the Mavic 2 Pro soon, as it is just a lot better and worth the money! If you want to know what equipment I am using, you can find it on my dedicated blog post.
If you have any insights or think we made a mistake – please comment down below or send us a message via the contact form. Please also note that this information is researched by me and in no mean an official platform.