Registering Your Drone in Tonga
An aerial perspective of Tonga’s amazing coastal landscapes makes an incredible addition to your travel photos but using a drone in Tonga involves jumping through a few hurdles first. In Tonga, it is illegal to fly a non-registered drone. When you arrive at Fua’amotu Airport, you’ll notice huge signs to register your drone. While you need to declare your drone as Customs upon entering Tonga, it’s likely that they will confiscate your drone until you supply a registration. However, the only place you can get a Drone Registration is in Nuku’alofa. Then you’ll need to come back to Customs along with the registration to retrieve your drone… Jeez! Learn how to register a drone in Tonga in the guide below.
For more tips and advice for your trip to Tonga, see 30 Tips for Travelling in Tonga.
Drone Registration Form Process
- Declare your drone on arrival to Tonga. The drone may be confiscated where a deposit of approximately 50% of the drone is also required. You will get a receipt.
- Go to the Civil Aviation Division (CAD) in Nuku’alofa with your drone (or drone information if your drone was confiscated) and passport
- Fill out the Drone Registration Form
- Go through the Tonga aviation rules with a CAD officer
- Sign and date the Drone Registration Form (the CAD officer will do the same)
- You will be given a copy of your drone registration. Take this to the Customs office at Fua’amotu Airport to retrieve your drone.
Where to Register Your Drone in Tonga
You need to register a drone with the Civil Aviation Division (CAD). Their office can be found at the Ministry of Infrastructure building in Nuku’alofa.
The Ministry of Infrastructure building is located on Alaivahamama’o Bypass Road. After turning off Taufa’ahau Road at the corner with the Little India restaurant, keep going past the BP gas station and you’ll see the building clearly signed. The CAD office is around the back of the building, but you can ask the staff at the Land Transport Division office at the front of the building to show you where to go.
What You Need to Register Your Drone
Registering your drone at the CAD office requires you to complete a form, where it’s best to bring your passport and drone (if it hasn’t been confiscated) in order to get the information required. Otherwise, make a note of the following information required from your drone so you have it available for completing the Drone Registration Form.
Information You Need to Know to Complete the Drone Registration Form
- ID and ID number (can be your passport)
- Address in Tonga (state accommodations you are staying in)
- Model of the drone
- Serial number of the drone (can usually be found on the drone underneath the battery)
- List of equipment installed
- Maximum operation height
- Maximum operation distance
- Battery life
- Total weight
- Locations of where you intend to use the drone
- The purpose for using the drone (can be recreational if just taking holiday photos or state otherwise)
Rules for Flying a Drone in Tonga
Once you have filled out the information required on the Drone Registration Form, you will go through the following rules with a CAD officer to make sure you are aware of them and will adhere to them:
- Give way to all manned aircraft
- Do not operate an aircraft that is 25kg (55lbs) or larger
- Fly the aircraft so it isn’t a hazard to other aircraft, property and people
- Fly only in daylight
- Be able to see your aircraft with your own eyes (not through binoculars, a monitor or smartphone) or have a second person with you as an observer
- Fly your aircraft no higher than 120m (400ft) above ground level
- Have knowledge of the airspace and restrictions applied to the area you want to operate
- Fly no closer than 4km (2.5 miles) from an uncontrolled aerodrome
- When flying in a controlled airspace, obtain air traffic control clearance issued from the Air Traffic Control Tower
- Have permission from the Administering Authority (such as the army) to fly in special used airspace
- Have consent from anyone you want to fly above
- Have consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above.