Drones in Norway: Must-Know Rules & Regulations

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Aerial photography has never been more popular. The rise in use of drones has been very apparent in Norway in recent years. Before you get started, make sure you're up to date on the regulations or you risk a big fine.

Flying a drone in Norway might sound like just another fun adventure, but before you let your buzzing buddy loose in the land of the fjords, there’s a bit of homework to do.

Drone photography in Lofoten, Norway.
Drone photography is popular in places such as Norway's Lofoten Islands.

Ignore local rules, and capturing stunning footage in Norway’s majestic landscapes could end up being a lot more expensive than planned.

We're here to point you in the right direction. Read on and we'll tell you everything you need to know and do, long before you press that lift-off button.

Ready to find out how to keep your drone soaring high and trouble-free in Norway? Let’s dive into the details that will keep you, and your drone, happily airborne and on the right side of the law!

Careless flyers risk heavy fines

Some people have learned the hard way that not following drone rules in Norway can be expensive. If you break the rules, police can confiscate your drone and issue you a fine of up to NOK 12,000.

This is exactly what happened to an American tourist in May of 2023. The unnamed individual was approached by the police and had their drone seized after flying it on the grounds of the royal palace on 17th of May, the country’s national holiday.

Flying a drone over the palace grounds is prohibited, and flying a drone in the centre of Oslo on National Day is also not allowed, so this particular tourist was doubly at fault.

Drone flying above a Norwegian fjord.
Drone flying above a Norwegian fjord.

Finding out where you can and can’t fly requires a bit of effort, but avoiding obvious mistakes is not too difficult. Let’s go through the basics.

New drone rules in Norway in 2024

Rules regarding drones have been tightened in Norway on January 1st, 2024. According to those new rules, drone operators must be registered if their aircraft is equipped with a camera, regardless of its weight.

Previous rules had an exemption for drones of less than 250 grams, but this exemption is now only given to drones that are classified as toys and those of less than 250 grams that don’t have a camera.

The registration process is relatively simple and can be done online. Registration is not the only requirement though; there are several other rules to keep in mind. Let’s go over them.

Flying a drone of less than 250g in Norway

The rules we will summarise for you now apply to drones weighing less than 250 grams. Stricter rules apply for heavier drones, but this article will not go into those.

  1. As we said earlier, register your drone.
  2. Keep your drone within your line of sight while flying. If you are unable to do so because you’re looking at your screen, get the help of a “spotter” who can help you keep track of where your drone is.
  3. Do not fly over large groups of people (the crowd at a concert or a busy park, for example).
  4. Do not fly in forbidden areas (see our section about this below).
  5. Do not fly over the maximum allowed altitude of 120 metres.
  6. If your drone is equipped with a camera, respect people’s privacy (see our section about this below).
  7. Ensure you have liability insurance.

Where can't I fly drones in Norway?

Many areas in Norway are a no-go when flying a drone. The most important rule to remember is that flying is forbidden within a radius of 5 kilometres around an airport.

Small Widerøe plane at Bodø Airport. Photo: David Nikel.
Flying drones near an airport is not permitted. Photo: David Nikel.

Do not measure this distance yourself on Google maps. Instead, consult official airport maps.

In some smaller places, the entire city fits within the 5-kilometre no-fly radius. This is the case in Tromsø, for example: the whole of Tromsø island is less than 5 kilometres from the airport.

This is important to keep in mind because you might see amazing photography on social media that were created by flying a drone in the restricted area.

If you see such images, remember that they were either created by someone who broke the rules, or by a professional who went through the proper channels and contacted the control tower to get permission to fly.

In other words, just seeing that “it’s been done before” doesn’t mean it’s allowed. It certainly is not a great defence when the police approach you.

Other no-fly zones in Norway

Other areas that are out of bounds are military installations, embassies, sporting events and outdoor concerts. National parks and some nature reserves also have stringent restrictions.

In the city centre of Oslo, the parliament (Stortinget), the palace grounds and the government buildings (Regjeringskvartalet) are out of bounds for reasons of security. Several of the fjord islands are also entirely or partially a no-go.

Check out the UAS Norway map to plan your flight. You can toggle the various layers on and off. Google translate can be helpful here.

Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo. Norway. Photo: David Nikel.
Flying drones near the Norwegian Parliament is not permitted. Photo: David Nikel.

If you are a Russian citizen, you can’t fly at all. This rule is part of the sanctions raised against Russia in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking of the invasion, be extra careful if you plan on flying near sensitive infrastructure. Enquire about the rules beforehand and be on the lookout for signs – the war has made the authorities nervous about unidentified drones flying near things like power plants and oil and gas terminals.

Privacy rules when flying a drone in Norway

There are no privacy laws written especially with drones in mind in Norway (so far). This means that drone operators are subject to the general Norwegian privacy law–the Personal Data Act or Personopplysningsloven–and EU privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Here are a few golden privacy rules to make sure you don’t break any laws.

  1. Avoid taking video and pictures where individuals can be identified. This means keeping a respectful distance from people and using privacy-friendly systems such as image blurring.
  2. Be visible when operating drones. Proactively inform people nearby about what you are doing.
  3. Remember that you’re a guest. In some very scenic areas like Reine i Lofoten, there are so many drones flying in high season that locals can sometimes get annoyed. Try to see things from the locals’ perspective and be respectful of their concerns.

Flying a drone on Svalbard

The archipelago of Svalbard boasts fantastic, out-of-this-world landscapes attracting photographers and drone pilots alike. The same rules apply here as in the rest of Norway, but there are a few extra considerations to keep in mind.

Two thirds of the archipelago’s land area is covered by national parks and nature reserves, which are out of bounds to drones.

In addition, disturbing the wildlife on Svalbard is strictly forbidden. This includes approaching reindeer and polar bears with your drone, as tantalising as that sounds.

Finally, remember the 5-kilometre rule? The entirety of the city of Longyearbyen falls within the 5-kilometre no-fly zone surrounding the local airport, so no flying there.

About Daniel Albert

Daniel was living a perfectly normal life as a journalist in Canada until he was swept off his feet by a Norwegian. He now lives in Trondheim where he still works in communications.

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