Drone Flying in Lofoten: How to Fly Your Drone Legally (2023)

DRONE FLYING IN LOFOTEN

How and Where to fly your drone legally

Are you eager to explore the stunning beauty of the Lofoten Islands from a whole new perspective? Flying a drone in Lofoten allows you to capture breathtaking aerial shots and witness the magical landscapes like never before.

But before you take off, it’s essential to know the rules and guidelines for drone flying in Norway.


In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about legally and responsibly flying your drone in Norway, with a special focus on the Lofoten Islands. From permits to safety tips, we’ve got you covered, ensuring you have a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable drone flying experience in our beautiful archipelago.

ABOUT US AND DRONE FLYING IN LOFOTEN

Hi guys, Radka and Ivar here! 

For those who do not know us, we are the faces behind the Guide to Lofoten page. Having moved to Lofoten three summers ago, we find ourselves in a unique position.

While the born and raised locals often perceive us as tourists, the visitors see us as locals. This prompted us to dedicate our webpage to bridging the gap between these two groups.

With the Lofoten Islands becoming an increasingly popular destination, particularly during the summer, the breathtaking landscapes have attracted drone enthusiasts seeking to capture unforgettable aerial photographs. As drone pilots ourselves, we understand the allure of showcasing Lofoten from above. However, we also recognize the importance of coexistence with those who seek tranquility during hikes.


We believe that most of the drone pilots do not intentionally violate the rules regarding drone flying. However sometimes the rules may not be entirely clear. For instance, Norway has over 40 national parks, each with its own regulations concerning drone usage. 

Therefore, we put together this article that aims to clarify the rules specifically related to drone flying in Lofoten. Our aim is to shed light on these regulations and ensure that drone enthusiasts can fly their drones responsibly while respecting the national and local rules, wildlife and other tourists.

We hope you find this information useful and kindly encourage you to share it with others ❤️

Have a fantastic summer! ☀️

Are you planning to explore the Lofoten Islands by a car?

Drone Regulations In Lofoten, Norway And The EU ​

Before we get to where you can and cannot fly in Lofoten, let’s get the formalities taken care of first. 

In 2020 the EU started a stricter policy on drone operation. And although Norway is not a member of the EU, we still comply with the drone regulation of the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency). 

In this article we are going to deal with the A1 & A3 subcategories of civil drones, which covers drone use as a hobby with drones of less than 25kg. 

The subcategory A1 deals with drones below 500g, like the DJI MINI-series. Subcategory A3 deals with drones below 25kg, which covers the rest of them. Within the subcategory A1 there are two sub-sub categories categorized by weight: above and below 250g.

 

The Open Category of Drones

Just like drones are categorized based on their characteristics, the types of flight you can do also have different categories. The “Open category” is for low-risk drone operations involving drones weighing less than 25 kg.

Within the open category, there are three subcategories: A1, A2, and A3, each with its specific rules:

A1 (Flying Over People): This subcategory allows you to fly lightweight drones with few distance limitations from uninvolved persons. 

A2 (Flying Close to People): In the A2 subcategory, you can fly drones in built-up areas, but you must maintain a minimum distance of 50 meters from uninvolved persons. If you have a C2-class drone, the minimum distance is reduced to 30 meters.

A3 (Flying Far From People): For the A3 subcategory, you can fly drones up to 25 kg in weight, but you must keep a minimum distance of 150 meters from residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational areas.

ID Requirements for Drone Flying in Norway

When registering a drone in the EU, it’s essential to understand the difference between the Flyer ID and Operator ID:

The Flyer ID is a unique identifier assigned to individual drone pilots or “flyers.” It is a personal ID that links directly to the drone operator. When you register for a Flyer ID, you provide your personal details, such as your name, address, and contact information. This ID is used to identify you as the pilot when operating a drone within the EU.

The Operator ID is a separate identifier associated with the owner or organization that operates the drone. This ID links to the entity responsible for the drone’s operations. When registering for an Operator ID, you provide the necessary details of the drone’s owner or the organization overseeing its flights.

drone categories
Not sure if you need Flyer ID, Operator ID or both? Check the weight of your drone and this table will give you an answer.

The Flyer ID

The Flyer ID is a crucial requirement for anyone who wishes to fly a drone in the Norway. To obtain the Flyer ID, you must successfully complete an online theory test that covers essential knowledge about safe and legal drone flying. The test consists of forty multiple-choice questions, and a minimum of 30 correct answers is needed to pass. 

 

There is no minimum age requirement for obtaining the Flyer ID, but children under the age of 13 must register with a parent or guardian present.

The Flyer ID registration is valid for three years, and it is free of charge.

The Operator ID

An operator ID is separate to a flyer ID in the sense that anybody who is responsible for a drone or model aircraft must register as an operator. Once you have registered, you will get an operator ID with your certificate of registration. You must display your operator ID on your drones and model aircraft. You can use the same operator ID for all your drones and model aircraft.

In order to be an operator, you must be aged 18 or over and your registration is valid for one year. 

As a private person and organization, you pay an annual fee (220 NOK in 2022) for registration as a drone operator. Courses and exams are free.

Flyer ID and Opaerator ID examples, source UAVHUB
Flyer ID and Opaerator ID examples, source UAVHUB

The rules for flying a drone below 250g

All drones with cameras require that you have at least an Operator ID. If your drone is below 250g, that’s all you need.

An Operator ID is easy to get, you just register at the National Aviation Authority page of any country within the EU and pay the yearly fee. Here is a link to the Norwegian site. You do not need to register again when flying in a different country within the EU. 

 

However, if you have an Operator ID from a country outside of the EU, you need to get one from any country within the EU before being allowed to fly within the EU. 

The rules for flying a drone Above 250g

Flying drones above 250g requires both an Operator ID and a Flyer ID. 

A Flyer ID requires an exam, which is free, can be done online in just minutes and for most people it would be fairly easy and not require extensive studying. 

If you are new to flying a drone, we encourage you to read up on the basic rules about flying a drone, before taking your exam.

 

Once you have your Operator (and Flyer) ID you need to put your Operator ID on your drone. 

The operator number might look something like this: NOR87astrdge12k-xyz. The last three digits are secret and should not be included in the marking on your drone. This registration number is valid in all EU-countries, including Norway.

 

Also, you would need liability insurance that covers damage up to 5.000.000 NOK, and make sure the insurance cover flying in other European countries. That’s it! 

Summary of the legal requirements for flying a drone in Norway

Citizens from EU countries

If you are a citizen of an EU country and wish to operate a drone in Norway, you must:

1️⃣ Be registered as a drone operator in your home country. There is no distinction between flying for recreational or commercial use.

2️⃣ Have a valid EASA certificate for the relevant subcategory.

👉 The Norwegian A1/A3 course and exam are available in English at flydrone.no
👉 The Norwegian A2 course is also available at flydrone.no. However, the exam must be taken at a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Office in Norway. Everything is available in English.

3️⃣ Mark the drone with your operator number. You can also use a QR code containing your operator number. The number on your pilot certificate is not valid as a marking.

4️⃣  Have valid liability insurance. There is no distinction between flying for recreational or commercial use.

5️⃣ Follow the rules of the open category.

6️⃣ Check if drone flying is permitted in the area before taking off.

7️⃣ Before flying with sensors, you must register the use of photos, video and other sensors with the Norwegian National Security Authority.

RULES FOR RUSSIAN CITIZENS

 

Since 28 February 2022, Russian flights have been banned from using Norwegian airspace.

Citizens from other countries

If you are a citizen from a country outside the EU, you must:

1️⃣ Be registered as a drone operator in an EU country or Norway. You should register in the first country where you plan to operate. For Norway, you can register at flydrone.no. There is no distinction between flying for recreational or commercial use.

2️⃣ Have a valid EASA certificate for the relevant subcategory.

3️⃣ Mark the drone with your operator number. You can also use a QR code containing your operator number. The number on your pilot certificate is not valid as a marking.

4️⃣ Have valid liability insurance. There is no distinction between flying for recreational or commercial use.

5️⃣ Follow the rules of the open category.

6️⃣ Check if drone flying is permitted in the area before taking off.

7️⃣ Before flying with sensors, you must register the use of photos, video, and other sensors with the Norwegian National Security Authority.

1️⃣ Get an Operator ID from any EU country (everyone)

2️⃣ Take an exam and get a Flyer ID (if your drone is heavier than 250g)

3️⃣ Pay the yearly fee (everyone)

4️⃣ Mark your drone with your Operator ID

5️⃣ Get liability insurance up to at least 5.000.000 NOK

6️⃣ Make yourself familiar with the rules and restricted areas for drone flying in the area you want to fly in.

7️⃣ Presto! Go fly!

NEW RULES IN 2023
There are a number of new rules arriving in 2023 that will affect how new drones are classified. But it doesn’t really affect any of the above requirements.

Are you looking for activities in Lofoten, Tromsø, Oslo or Alta?

Restrictions For Flying a drone In Lofoten

Now, let’s dive into the areas where drone flying is off-limits in Lofoten. Thankfully, you’ll find that you can fly a drone in most places around these stunning islands. However, it’s crucial to adhere to the local regulations, which are pretty similar to those in other European countries. 

Here’s the lowdown:

✅ Always keep your drone within your line of sight
✅ Avoid flying higher than 120 meters from the nearest solid ground
✅ Steer clear of flying over crowds
✅ Respect the 5 km no-fly zone around airports
✅ And above all, honor everyone’s privacy

By following these guidelines, you’ll be all set to capture awe-inspiring footage while exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Lofoten.

 

consider the local wildlife while flying a drone

When it comes to Lofoten, there’s one more important aspect to keep in mind when flying a drone: respecting the wildlife. 

The islands are home to a diverse array of birds, many of which have a negative response to drones in their vicinity.

It’s crucial to be respectful and maintain a safe distance from any wild animals you encounter. 

“DRONE HATERS”

Specifically, there’s one bird species that truly despises drones, known as the Tjeld or Oystercatcher in English. We affectionately call it “The Drone Hater.” These birds will go to great lengths to scare away drones, often engaging in nerve-racking near-misses. 

Not only does this put drone pilots on edge, but it can also lead to harm or injury to the birds themselves. Moreover, during the spring nesting period for most birds, their attention is diverted from protecting and warming their eggs or chicks when they’re forced to combat drones. Newborn chicks are fragile and can die of expsure after a few minutes without the warmth of their parents. They are also exposed to predators when their parents are away.

If you happen to spot this particular bird in the area, it’s best to consider flying your drone elsewhere. (There is a lot of them nesting in Innersand and Ytresand close to the parking place for hiking Ryten and Kvalvika Beach). 

Keep distance from the local airports

When it comes to drone flying in Norway, it’s crucial to be aware of the regulations surrounding airports and helipads.

Just like in many countries, Norway has strict no-fly zones around airports to ensure the safety of air traffic. It’s important to respect these boundaries and not fly your drone within a 5-kilometer radius of any airport. 

This rule is in place to prevent any potential interference with aircraft operations and to maintain secure airspace. 

In Lofoten, we have three airports. One in Leknes, one in Svolvær, and one in the island of Røst. This rules out flying in both cities as well as the whole island of Røst, and within 5 km radius around the airports. Lofoten also has a helipad in Værøy, which, in combination with the nature reserves on the island, rules out flying on most of the island.

Flying drone in Lofoten: keep at least 5 km distance from the local airports
The map shows the no fly zones around the airports in Leknes and Svolvær.

Do not fly your drone in lofotodden national park

There’s a no-fly zone within Lofotodden National Park. 

But wait, if you’re planning to explore other breathtaking spots in Norway outside of Lofoten, you might find yourself scratching your head over national park regulations. Norway is home to around 40 incredible national parks, and guess what? Each national park in Norway has its own unique drone flying rules. Talk about a maze, right?

To make your life easier, we have embedded below the best map there is that shows you exactly where you can and cannot fly throughout all of Norway. You can click on all the colored areas and read more about it. Just be aware that it’s in Norwegian. You can also find the map on safetofly.no

Now, why are drones restricted in most Norwegian national parks, including Lofotodden? Well, those buzzing machines can get pretty noisy and disturb the wildlife that calls these parks home. It’s all about protecting and respecting nature. So, before you lift off, make sure to get to know the local rules. 

Here is a really good list, also in Norwegian, of all the national parks where drone flying is restricted. They also mention a few national parks allowing drone flying.

It is forbidden to fly a drone in the Lofotodden National park in western Lofoten.
The green colour marks the Lofotodden National Park where drone flying is forbidden.

Are you at the planning stage of your trip to the Lofoten Islands?

Other Places In Lofoten Where You Are Not Allowed To Fly​

In addition to the National Park, Lofoten islands is home to a number of smaller wildlife protection areas, that we call Landskapsvernområde (Landscape Protection area) or Naturreservat (Nature Reserve). 

These areas are almost always restricted for drone flying. The picture below is from the map above.

Areas in Lofoten where it is restricted or forbidden to fly a drone

Basically, all the coloured areas are National Parks, Landscape Protection Areas, and Nature Reserves, and it’s illegal to fly in any of these areas, usually to avoid disturbing sea birds.

Some of these areas are so protected that there is a complete ban to even walk there parts of the year. Like we mentioned its in Norwegian, but if you can make use of Google translate then it has a lot of interesting information on each protected area.

HERE IS HOW TO USE THE MAP TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROTECTED AREAS

Click on any area. Click on the link below the text saying “verneområder” (protected areas). You will be taken to another page, scroll down, and click the link on the image next to the text saying “Informasjonsplakat” (information poster).

Here you can read about the specific regulations and a bit of information on the area and why it’s protected. I recommend you check these out to learn that there are some solid reasons behind the regulations. In Lofoten, most of the protected areas, with the exception of Lofotodden NP are difficult to near impossible to access for most people so if you stick to the road you are mostly not restricted at all by this.

Despite all of these regulated areas, the Lofoten islands are mainly unregulated and as long as you fly responsibly, it can be a fun and rewarding experience to fly your drone on the calmer days here in Lofoten.

Specific Places where you are not allowed to fly a drone in Lofoten

STORY OF OUR FRIEND WHO PAID A STEEP PRICE FOR FLYING A DRONE CLOSE TO THE AIRPORT. 

About 4,8 kilometers away from Tromsø airport our friend thought he was safe enough so he started flying his drone to capture some amazing northern lights. Sadly, for him, the joy was short lived when a police car pulled over and confiscated his drone. 

In addition to never seeing his drone again, he recieved a hefty fine of 12.000 NOK (1100 USD) for flying too close to an airport! 

So, stick to the rules and spend your hard earned money on Norwegian Knitted sweaters instead! Btw you can get at least 6 amazing knitted sweaters for that price! Not including the loss of the drone… 

❌ Djevelporten and Fløya (Svolvær airport)

❌ Svolvær (Svolvær airport)

❌ Leknes (Leknes airport)

❌ Offersøykammen (Leknes airport)

❌ The upper half of Ryten (NP)

❌ Kvalvika Beach (NP)

❌ Horseid Beach (NP)

❌ Bunes Beach (NP)

❌ Helvetestind (NP)

❌ Parts of Ågvatnet lake (NP)

❌ Himmeltinden (Military facility)

 

ABOUT FLYING IN THE NATIONAL PARKS

A lot of people think that as soon as they land their drone they are safe from any concequences for flying illegally. Not so fast! It didn’t take the National Parks long to figure out that running around in a huge national park trying to catch drone pilots is a losing battle. It’s a lot more comfortable to just sit back and wait for people to start their posting on social media. As we all know, if it’s not on your social media account, it didn’t happen… In legal terms, there is a different way to put it: self-incrimination. We have seen several cases of people being fined upwards of 10.000 NOK (900 USD) for material they have posted online.

So, if you cannot even use your material online, what’s the point? Better leave that drone at home.

Drone Flying in Lofoten: Conclusion

Despite the restrictions in Lofotodden National Park and around the airports there are still plenty of places where you are welcome to fly your drone. As a drone operator myself I really recommend you bring your drone to Lofoten! Lofoten is perfect for getting those epic drone shots of majestic nature, except for the almost constant wind of course, so be careful not to lose your precious toy!

Are you planning to sleep in Lofoten in your car or a tent?

FAQ ABOUT FLYING A DRONE IN LOFOTEN/NORWAY

We receive many questions about flying a drone in our FB travel groups focused on traveling to Norway and the Lofoten Islands. Here we answered the most frequently asked questions:

Yes, you are allowed to fly drones in Norway, including in Lofoten Islands. However, there are specific regulations and guidelines that must be followed to ensure safe and responsible drone operation.

It is important to familiarize yourself with these rules, such as keeping the drone in sight, flying below 120 meters (approximately 394 feet), respecting people’s privacy, avoiding restricted areas, and registering your drone.

Yes, it is mandatory to have insurance coverage when flying a drone in Norway, including in Lofoten Islands.

Yes, there are certain areas in the Lofoten Islands where drone flying is restricted or prohibited. These include:

❌ Protected nature reserves and national parks

❌ Sensitive wildlife habitats and bird sanctuaries

❌ Military installations and restricted military areas

❌ Airports, helipads, and a 5km radius around them.

Here are some helpful tips for flying a drone in the Lofoten Islands:

✅ Check the weather conditions before flying and avoid strong winds and rain.

Respect the privacy of local residents and avoid flying over private property without permission.

Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid flying close to people, animals, and sensitive natural features.

Plan your flights and locations in advance to make the most of the stunning landscapes and avoid restricted areas.

✅ Carry spare batteries and memory cards to extend your flight time and capture more footage.

✅ Bring a car charger! 

Maintain a safe distance from other aircrafts, boats, and structures.

✅ Take advantage of the golden hours around sunrise and sunset for capturing the best lighting conditions.
✅ When flying in winter, make sure you keep your batteries warm by keeping them in your pockets. Also, the battery indicator on the controller can be disturbing for your night vision so I like to cover it with a tape.

Remember to always prioritize safety, respect local regulations, and fly responsibly to ensure an enjoyable drone flying experience in the beautiful Lofoten Islands.

Do you have any questions about flying a drone in Lofoten/Norway? Let us know in the comments!

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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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