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Buying and Registering a Consumer Drone in Thailand.


Garzan
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I thought the best place for this is Cameras and Photography, since all the consumer drones that someone would be flying in Thailand have cameras attached to them Mostly, all the drone is, is a movement and positioning system for that attached camera--so Cameras and Photography it is. 

After several years of thinking about it--prompted by @Atlas earlier thread

I finally got to the point I was willing and able to make a purchase. The current world situation has killed off a lot of local resellers for drones. I ended up ordering from the DJI13Store in Bangkok. The drone I picked is the current version of the drone BM Atlas bought several years ago, in my case the Mavic Air 2s with a 1" camera sensor. Sadly it doesn't have the variable f-stop its bigger brother has. But, it doesn't cost as much as its bigger brother either. 

There are several steps to the process:

1) Buy/order the drone.

2) Register the drone transceivers with the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.

3) Buy liability insurance for the drone. 

4) Register the person(s) who will be piloting the drone with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. (requires having insurance to complete the registration)

5) Learn to fly without crashing into anyone or anything. 🙂  

Should be easy-peasy, though step 5 may present some challenges. 

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Step 1 - Acquire a drone. 

As I mentioned, with the closing of several retail outlets during the last two years of the global pandemic, I decided to order online. The drone package I wanted was not in stock at the time I ordered, but I was assured it would be in stock within the next two weeks. The DJI13Store was true to their word, and my newly arrived drone was shipped off to me in Udon via Kerry Express on the 29th of December. Two days later I had it in hand. 

The whole process of ordering on line was simple and straight forward. I picked out the drone I wanted, placed the order in their online order system. Did a Thai bank transfer from my bank to their bank and sent them a copy of the transaction receipt along with their order number. The seem to prefer using Line for communication, so I sent all that to their line account, and got an acknowledgement back a few minutes later. 

After a week or so I started checking the order page on the DJI13Store website to see when my order changed from processing to complete. The 'complete' was on the 29th, and that's when my drone shipped. 

Having the drone in hand is required for Step 2. In person registration at NBTC needs the drone in hand. Online registration with NBTC requires photos of the drone and drone serial numbers. No drone, no registration. 

 

I'm really amazed at some of the video clips I've seen come off this drone. I'm not really anticipating me doing anything like that but I figure it's always good to have a camera that exceeds your own capabilities rather than you exceeding the camera's capabilities. I think I have a lot of growing room with this drone. 

Also, since Thailand does not have a >less than 250g drone distinction, it did not make as much sense to me to get a sub 250g drone in Thailand. If I was still in the US, or the UK, it probably would make a lot more sense. 

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Step 2 - Register with the NBTC.

The radio transceivers in the drone and the controller need to be registered with the NBTC if you have a drone in Thailand.

While there is a NBTC field office in Udon Thani, and several other places around Thailand, I have elected to make this first attempt going the online route. Registering the drone radios is required to be done within thirty days of purchasing a drone in Thailand, or carrying your existing drone into Thailand. The online registration page is:

https://anyregis.nbtc.go.th/accounts/login/?next=/

Whether you go to a field office, or use the online registration system, you need your drone with you. I needed to upload the following smartphone photos when I filled out my application: passport information page, passport visa/extension page, photo of the drone, clear photo of the drone serial number and barcode/QR code, clear photo of the controller serial number and barcode/QR code, purchase receipt if the drone was purchased in Thailand, Owner's Declaration of Conformity form. 

The website is in Thai and English, and for the upload documents required, there are samples you can download. The Owner's Declaration of Conformity is one of those sample forms you can download right from the registration page. 

I filled mine out on the weekend, and the New Year's Eve weekend. I don't expect to hear anything back until Monday at the earliest. I'll make a post about success or failure when success or failure is known.

With the drone and a smartphone (for the camera) in hand, filling out and submitting the required documentation was quite easy. It remains to be seen if I did it correctly enough to get my approved drone radio license though. Worst case though, is to pack up the drone and my passport and drive into town to the local field office.  

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Since @Garzanwas nice enough to suggest I spend some of my surplus money on buying a drone,  I am following this process with interest. I was under the impression that you didn't have to register the thing if it was under 2kg but upon further researching, you have to register for any of them, including the little one I was going to buy.

I just wanted a little helicopter that I could fly around the room but this seems like a more interesting path to follow. Hopefully I like droning and this will give me something else to do.

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Holy shit, you are going through a lot of red tape and pain to take surreptitious pictures of ladies on beaches and balconies! 😁

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Yes, for some odd reason the Thai government decided that any arial device capable of taking photos and videos needs to to be registered with the government. My memory may be faulty, but I think this was instituted shortly after the Red Shirt protests in Bangkok several years back. 

I'm still early in the process, but the registration hoops really don't seem to be that complex or complicated. I think not crashing the darn thing will be far more difficult.  

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14 minutes ago, dragonrider said:

I just wanted a little helicopter that I could fly around the room but this seems like a more interesting path to follow. Hopefully I like droning and this will give me something else to do.

One thing I found interesting, and I may have been reading the regulations wrong, but FPV drones with goggles seem to be illegal to fly in Thailand. If you can't see the drone with your unaided eyes, you aren't legally allowed to fly the drone. So no night flights, and no looking out from the drone through a pair of "AR" goggles. 

mg8PnX9gFzfFA5VzuUK25K-970-80.jpg.webp

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Hey mate,

Wow, seems like a lifetime ago I was flying.... After the all the world jumped on the drone bandwagon I decided to offload my drones before I got stuck with them...

I loved the views I could get, but never registered and never felt comfortable flying "just in case"...... 

Besides that, I am as coordinated as beginner on ice skates.... 

Good luck and look forward to seeing some movies :)

 

image.png.6eb5df3c4b99a4189996c2a21d8f14af.png   Regards, Atlas.

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I am waiting, with some interest, for you to reach pt. 4. As I understand it there's a fairly restrictive time-limit (3 months?) on the licenses for non-Thais before you have to renew it. Maybe that has changed for the better?

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Great thread. I’m sure many have toyed with the idea over the last few years. 

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5 minutes ago, Fumbduck said:

I am waiting, with some interest, for you to reach pt. 4. As I understand it there's a fairly restrictive time-limit (3 months?) on the licenses for non-Thais before you have to renew it. Maybe that has changed for the better?

My understanding at this point is that the radio license is for the life of the drone, and the pilot license is an annual renewal. I'll be sure to note that as I find out more details. 

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6 hours ago, Garzan said:

My understanding at this point is that the radio license is for the life of the drone, and the pilot license is an annual renewal. I'll be sure to note that as I find out more details. 

I believe they will give you the license until the end date of your visa. So the three month thing is probably related to the 90 day tourist visa. We should get a year (after the 1st renewal). Doesn't cost anything which is weird for Thailand.

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Step 2 - Insure the drone.

With some assistance from @dragonrider, I had three options for drone liability insurance. 

1) FEIC - https://www.feic.co.th/thailand-drone-insurance-plans/

2) The Thaigerhttps://thethaiger.com/insurance/drone/

3) Bangkok Alliance Insurance- which I can't find the link for now, but it was silly expensive. 

The Thaiger sent me an automatically generated response to my request for quote, but no one ever actually followed up with a quote. 

FEIC was responsive, and when I checked, significantly less expensive than the Bangkok insurance product. I used the application online process yesterday, and in today's email was a .pdf of my approved policy. Most importantly, I now have a policy number I can use in the online CAAT pilot license process for the UAV. 

Now for me, never having a drone before, I decided to go with the Policy 2 option with FEIC. In following years I will likely go with liability only, but for my first year flying my drone is covered for me crashing it, and with a 10% deductible, for it flying off and not coming back. Cost for the Number 2 policy, incase I flush my drone, is 3,990 baht per year for drones valued under 30,000 baht. Also note, the coverage is for the drone only, not the controller or other accessories.

Step 2 is finished. I'm still waiting to hear back from the broadcast authority on Step 1. Now on to Step 3.

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Also note, Googling "Thailand Drone Insurance" will generate a list of several more options. I don't know if FEIC is the lowest cost option, but they are responsive to email, and quick in processing the policy, so for me, they are certainly the 'good enough' option. 

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5 minutes ago, Garzan said:

Also note, Googling "Thailand Drone Insurance" will generate a list of several more options. I don't know if FEIC is the lowest cost option, but they are responsive to email, and quick in processing the policy, so for me, they are certainly the 'good enough' option. 

In theory there is a really cheap option (like 800b for just liability) but several emails to them has not resulted in a response. Cheap only works if you can actually get it.

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Step 4 - Do the online CAAT registration.

This is done at https://uav.caat.or.th/  In the upper portion of the page, there is a link to follow for Thai people, and next to it a link to follow for foreign people. Being a foreigner, and not a business or a government agency, that's the link I followed. 

There are a series of questions about the drone and the insurance policy. One question that had me stumped for a while is asking about "controllers". What the question is actually asking about is operators, or pilots. Are operators named on your insurance policy, or are they not. My policy through FEIC names me on the policy as the only operator of my drone. 

On the next page is a section for uploading documents. For one of the questions, they are looking for two photos, but there is only the option to upload one item. With a Google search I found this online tool to sew two photos together into one photo. https://www.imgonline.com.ua/eng/combine-two-images-into-one.php The site is in the Ukraine. That may or may not matter to you. I'm not worried about someone else knowing what my drone serial number is. 

Other questions ask for a photo of your passport, your visa, your ID, and your housebook. I have a Thai foreigner ID card, and a foreigner Yellow Housebook. I don't know what the alternative would be if you don't have either of those so are not able to include them. 

Step 1 - drone purchased

Step 2 - submitted and waiting

Step 3 - insurance policy delivered

Step 4 - submitted and waiting

(I've noticed my numbering hasn't been consistent. I'll try to do better. 🙂 At this point I've done what I can do and am waiting to hear back from the broadcast agency and the aviation agency.) 

 

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Step 2 continued - NBTC registration.

Today I received an email that my documents had been verified. Included in the email was an account number and QR code to pay NBTC the 214 baht for the registration. With a quick scan of the QR code by my smartphone, NBTC got it's 214 baht. Now it's wait for my payment to be verified. It was near 17:00 when I made the payment so I'm not expecting it to be recognized before tomorrow.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been in Pattaya and not keeping up with email. My NBTC registration was approved on January 14th, and expires when my current visa expires. The process to get the radio license was quite painless, and not at all expensive.

 

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My CAAT license has been issued, but I didn't get any email notification of it, so I don't know how long ago it was issued. The cost was free (other than requiring yearly insurance.) 

To check, log into your CAAT user account, click on the left side "hamburger" menu, and select history. You can view the status of your application there.

 

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Summary -- All in all, a very painless process. All my submissions were done online, and no office visits were required anywhere. The pilot license was free, the radio license was 214 baht, and the mandatory flight insurance depends on which policy you choose and from where. 

My final thought is a person should not let the "complication" of drone licensing in Thailand keep you from getting a drone. Now, with all the document submission able to be done online, it's even easier than it used to be, and from anywhere in Thailand with an internet connection and a bank account for online payments. 

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I have not been able to find an expiration date on it but I would assume it would expire when my visa does. 

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