Flying a Drone in Tromso Can Get You Deported

Tromsø, the largest city in Northern Norway with 70,000 residents, is renowned for the northern lights, thanks to its position within the auroral oval. With drones becoming increasingly affordable, it’s no surprise that tourists wish to capture aerial footage and photos of their vacation spots. However, drone flying in Tromso and its immediate vicinity is prohibited due to its close proximity to Tromso Airport. Moreover, this ban is strictly enforced, and violators face hefty fines, confiscation of their drone, and possible expulsion from the country.

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illegal drone flying in tromso norway_01

Recent NRK article about tourist deported from the country for illegal drone flying in Tromsø

 

 

Temporary Drone Ban In Tromsø

In addition to the unchanging drone rules, you also need to pay attention to temporary drone bans. Currently, there is an ongoing military exercise “Nordic Response,” which results in restrictions for civilian air traffic, including drones.

The restrictions on drones apply to parts of Northern Troms and Finnmark counties and will be in effect from March 4 to 15, 2024. Note that there are also restrictions in Finnish and Swedish airspace for the same reason.

Read more about the restrictions for drones and civilian flights during Nordic Response.

 

Tromsø drone flying restrictions during Cold response military exercise 2024

 

 

Where specifically are you not allowed to fly drones in Tromsø?

The entire island of Tromsø, along with parts of Kvaløya and Håkøya islands, falls within the drone flight restriction areas due to its proximity to Tromsø Airport. In addition to that, you are not allowed to fly a drone in Tromsdalen Valley on the mainland.

To be more specific, do not expect to capture any aerial footage of:

❌ The Arctic cathedral

❌ Fjellheisen cable car

❌ Tromsø city center

❌ The harbour area

❌ Tromsø bridge (Tromsøbrua)

❌ Sandnessund Bridge (The bridge between Tromsø and Kvaløya Island)

 

AVINOR map showing the 5 km radius around the Tromsø airport where it is illegal to fly a drone.

AVINOR map showing the 5 km radius around Tromsø Airport where flying a drone is illegal.

 

“But I’ve seen pictures of these places on social media! How could they take them, and I cannot?” 

Well, either the pictures were taken illegally, and the author was lucky not to get caught, or it’s possible that the pictures were taken by a commercial drone operator who had permission to fly within 5 km of the airport.

 

Drone flying in Tromsø

Tromsolove is an amazing page filled with stunning pictures from Tromsø and its surroundings. However, we wish it were made clearer that some of the pictures are taken within the restricted fly zone, and the drone pilot must have special permission to capture them.

 

 

Tourists Face Deportation For Illegal Drone Flying in Tromsø

Here’s a recent experience shared on Reddit by a tourist who not only had their drone confiscated for briefly flying it in Telegrafbukta at the southern tip of Tromsø Island but also faced the threat of deportation from Norway.

“We had quite an unsettling experience when we inadvertently flew our drone (DJI Mini 2) within 5km of Tromsø airport, which is illegal and can lead to significant trouble. Unfortunately, our DJI Fly app did not issue a ‘NO FLY’ or restricted area warning. We were flying in Telegrafbukta, which, according to Google Maps, is more than 5km from the airport. However, the distance from the airport is measured from a point beyond the start of the runway. 

The island hardly has any drone signage, and without thorough research, which we admit we should have done, you’re vulnerable. We flew the drone about 10 meters before us for 3 minutes. The police arrived within 5 minutes of us packing the drone away.

The police informed us that any drone flight within 5km of the airport notifies the air tower, requiring them to halt airport air traffic, regardless of the drone’s weight and class. This issue is regular and well-known, with the police handling similar cases multiple times a week. Despite the frequency of offenses and the severity of the situation, there seems to be no effort to improve awareness.

It was difficult to accept, especially given the misleading information we relied on. However, the authorities do not budge on breaches of regulations.

Here’s the kicker:

Norwegians, EU, and Schengen area citizens would face a fine and have their drones confiscated. The fine stands at 12,000 NOK (about 1000 EUR). Suppose you’re not a Norwegian, EU, or Schengen citizen. In that case, they will additionally refer the case to their Department of Immigration and deport you with a two-year expulsion period from Norway, which could potentially extend to the entire Schengen area.

This process occurs almost automatically, with the police having very little discretion. The arresting officers had only basic knowledge of the regulations. When my passport was seized, and we were handed formal charge documents the next day, we fully grasped the seriousness of our situation. The police concurred that the penalties for these offenses were exceedingly harsh and the rules unclear, yet their hands were tied.

Only after we managed to speak with the city prosecutor and clarify that the drone operator was actually an EU citizen were the charges adjusted, and no one was deported.”

 

Excuse the automatic translation from Norwegian to English. However, local newspapers are full of reports about tourists being caught flying too close to Tromsø Airport.

 

 

Illegal drone flying in Tromso frequently disrupts air traffic

Flying a drone within 5 km of an airport is illegal due to the significant safety risks it poses to both incoming and outgoing flights. Drones can interfere with air traffic control’s ability to manage the airspace, potentially leading to dangerous situations.

In Tromsø, this rule is especially important because the city’s airport serves as a gateway to the Arctic and sees a lot of air traffic. The frequency of illegal drone flights in Tromsø has led to numerous instances where air traffic had to be halted temporarily.

So, if you’re traveling with your drone, take the time to familiarize yourself with local no-fly zones and steer clear of the 5 km radius around the airport.

 

 

Drone Detection Technology At Tromsø Airport

Some tourists claim that they are unaware of the distance to Tromsø airport, while others simply do not care and rely on the assumption that if they launch their drone for 10 minutes, nobody will catch them.

Avinor, the state-owned operator responsible for most of Norway’s civil airports, has observed a dramatic rise in unauthorized drone activities near airport vicinities. Drone incidents have surged from 14 in 2020 to 1,300 by November 2023.

This sharp increase isn’t random; it’s mainly due to Avinor’s deployment of sophisticated drone detection systems across Norwegian airports.

The authorities are quick to act on any drone activity in the restricted zone. Flying a drone within 5 km of the Tromsø airport leads to an immediate police response, and fines are issued swiftly, sometimes just minutes after takeoff.

 

illegal drone flying in tromso norway_03

 

 

Drone Pilots risk fines & confiscation of their drone

Tourists flying drones in Tromsø should be aware that they risk more than just a hefty fine and the confiscation of their equipment. In light of the increased drone activity, the local police have been vigilant in enforcing regulations to ensure airspace safety around the Tromsø airport.

Violations not only lead to immediate legal consequences but also carry the possibility of expulsion from Norway under immigration laws following breaches of the penal code.

Moreover, offenders may face a two-year ban from re-entering the country.

Håkon Breilid from the Troms Police District emphasizes that it is the tourists’ own responsibility to stay informed about the laws and regulations in the country they visit.

According to information gathered by NRK (a major Norwegian public broadcaster), the police only resort to expelling individuals from the country as a penalty for illegal drone usage in Troms County.

However, just today we saw an article in our local Lofoten newspaper, Lofotposten, about a tourist caught flying a drone in Skreda, within the 5 km distance from Leknes Airport. The Asian tourist was aware she was flying in a restricted area. She received a 12,000 NOK fine, her drone was confiscated, and she will be deported from the country.

 

The Asian tourist was part of a travel group. She was aware of breaking the rules when flying in a distance of less than 5 km from the Leknes Airport.

 

 

What are the rules for flying a drone in Norway?

Norway’s drone regulations are set by the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority and are designed to ensure safety for both drone operators and the public. Here are some of the key rules:

  1. Registration: Drone operators must register themselves if their drone weighs more than 250 grams or if it has a camera, regardless of its weight.
  2. Drone Pilot Certificate: To obtain a drone pilot certificate, operators must complete an online course and pass an exam for drones weighing more than 250 grams.
  3. Insurance: Drones weighing more than 250 grams must be covered by liability insurance.
  4. Distance From People and Buildings: Drones may not fly within 150 meters (492 feet) of people, buildings, and traffic—this means traffic on roads, at sea, and in the air.
  5. No-Fly Zones: Flying near airports and certain restricted areas, including military zones, is prohibited without special permission. It’s important to consult no-fly zone maps available through the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority or drone apps before flying.
  6. Altitude Restrictions: Drones are typically restricted to a maximum altitude of 120 meters (394 feet) above the ground.
  7. Visual Line of Sight: Operators must keep the drone within the visual line of sight at all times, or, if using First Person View (FPV) equipment, a spotter must be used to maintain the visual line of sight.
  8. Privacy Laws: Drone operators must respect privacy laws and not capture images or videos of people without their consent.

For more information on Norway’s drone laws, see this overview page on the CAAN website and this page listing specific regulations.

TIPS FOR VISITING TROMSØ IN WINTER

Tromsø is a vibrant center for winter tourism in Norway, drawing travelers from around the world. Its appeal mainly stems from the ideal setting for viewing the Northern Lights, which can be seen from early September to early April.

Aside from watching the Northern Lights, winter in Tromsø and its surroundings offers a range of other activities. These include dog sledding, visits to reindeer farms, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sailing, ice fishing, and ski touring.

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⏰ HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD YOU SPEND IN TROMSO?

To fully experience it, consider spending at least four days. That’ll ensure you cover all the must-see sights and thrilling activities.

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🌦️ WEATHER & DAYLIGHT HOURS

Check the Norwegian weather forecast yr.no for historical data on your specific dates and up-to-date weather forecast. For daylight hours on specific dates, check timeanddate.com. Polar night in Tromsø begins on November 27th and lasts until January 15th.

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🧳 WHAT TO PACK
We have written a detailed post on what to pack for Lofoten in winter. It also applies to Tromsø or any other northern Norway/Scandinavia area. Make sure you read it before your trip!
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✈️ GETTING TO TROMSØ

The easiest way is to fly. There are direct flights from Oslo with Norwegian or SAS. You can also fly directly from various other European cities like Helsinki (Finnair), Stockholm (SAS and Norwegian), Düsseldorf (Eurowings), and Gdaňsk (Wizzair). From 1st December until 31st March every year, you can also travel to Tromsø from Finnish Rovaniemi by the Arctic Route bus.

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🚍 AIRPORT TRANSFERS

The cheapest way to get from the Tromsø airport to the city center is to take a public bus (buses 24,, 40, and 42). It takes approximately 15 minutes. You can also take the airport express bus or taxi.

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NORTHERN LIGHTS TOURS
Our most recommended Northern Lights guides in Tromsø:
1️⃣ Wandering Owl (medium groups)
2️⃣ Arctic Photo Guide (smallest group in Tromsø with professional photographer/guide Nico)
3️⃣ Greenlander (small groups, great photographers)

4️⃣ Northern Shots (large groups, low price, great photographers) 📸

Tours usually run from September 15 to March 31.

👉Check this article for more recommendations on choosing the best Northern Lights tour that suits your needs and budget.
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DOG SLEDDING

Dog sledding season typically lasts from November 1 to April 1, depending on the snow conditions.

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WHALE WATCHING

The whale season in Tromsø lasts from November to January. Outside these months, you can go for a whale safari in Andenes in Vesterålen.

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REINDEER FEEDING AND SAMI CULTURE

Check out Tromsø Arctic Reindeer, offering tours from November 1, 2023, to April 7, 2024.

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SNOWMOBILE DRIVING
Try Camp TamokCamp Troll Snowmobile, or Chasing Lights.

(These three companies offer snowmobiling in the surroundings of Tromsø.
You can try it either in the beautiful Lyngen Alps (Camp Troll) or in Tamok Valley (Camp Tamok), where you can combine it with a visit to the Ice domes.)

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ICE DOMES/HOTEL IN CAMP TAMOK
(in the 2023/2024 season, the Tamok ice hotel will be open from December 20 to April 9.)

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SNOWSHOEING

Try Arctic Photo Guide

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🏞️ OTHER ACTIVITIES
If you’d instead want to explore all the Tromsø activities in one place, you can conveniently book your adventure right here on our page 🌟

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🗺️ ALL THE TIPS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Do you want to have all these tips available when traveling to Tromsø? Check our interactive map or have a look at our library of articles about Tromsø. 

Picture of Ivar & Radka

Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

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Ivar and Radka Guide to Lofoten

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten.

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