Updated November 2022
There are different regulations for flying drones in Greenland depending on the size of the drone and whether it is a so-called ‘private flight’ or a flight for commercial purposes – however, as this article principally involves flying drones in the context of tourist travel, reference will be specifically made to the regulations for private flights with drones of up to 7 kg.
In the event of flights with larger drones or commercial drone flights, you have to acquire a dispensation even if you have an EU-approved drone certificate since Greenland is outside the EU. You can take a dispensation course with Arctic Unmanned.
Regulations for private flights with drones weighing less than 7 kg
The regulations for private individuals with respect to flying drones in Greenland appear in The Danish Air Navigation Act as described in legislation BL 9-4, which in short states that:
- The distance to the runway/runways of a public aerodrome must be at least 5 km*
- The distance to the runway/runways of a military airbase must be at least 8 km
- The distance to built-up areas and major public roads must be at least 150 m
- Flight level must not exceed 100 m above the ground
- Densely built-up areas and areas in which a large number of people are gathered in the open air must not be overflown
- The drone must remain within sight of the operator at all times
- The 3 particularly sensitive natural resorts in Greenland (The National Park of Greenland, Melville Bay and Angujaartorfiup Nunaa, southwest of Kangerlussuaq) that are referred to in BL 7-16 must not be overflown.
* As per droneregler.dk: “it is not possible to fly recreationally within urban areas. In other words, it is only in connection with carrying out professional tasks that you can be allowed to fly on the basis of a dispensation”
NOTE! In addition, §4, 4 of Executive Order no. 3 of 14 September 2018 on the protection of polar bears states that: “It is prohibited to use drones to film or otherwise pursue polar bears”
Penalties and confiscation for violation of the regulations
According to the Greenlandic Police, a fine for violation of the regulations will amount to between DKK 2,000 and DKK 6,000, depending on the size of the drone and how hazardous the circumstances of the violation are. As such, a drone of more than 3-4 kg flying above a large number of people will result in a fine of not less than DKK 4-5,000. Furthermore, in the event of such a violation of the regulations, the drone will probably be confiscated by the Police.
10 good pieces of advice if you wish to bring your own drone to Greenland
- If you fly a drone weighing under 7 kg, you can fly recreationally, but only outside urban areas
- Comply with the regulations to avoid penalties and confiscation
- To be sure, ask Air Greenland or Icelandair if there are limitations in terms of the batteries your drone is using, as some restrictions may apply
- If you wish to fly from a boat, then do this while it is stationary
- If, however, you wish to fly from a moving vessel, then make sure that you have practised launching and catching the drone from a vessel back at home – thus avoiding the loss of the drone
- Check the weather forecast. Fierce winds can begin to blow with very little warning in Greenland
- Keep an eye on the battery level. Cold temperatures drain the battery more rapidly
- Have a backup battery with you
- Have a backup propeller with you. In many towns in Greenland, propellers cannot be purchased
- Ask the skipper and other passengers whether it is OK for you to fly the drone
Can you buy drones in Greenland?
Yes. In the larger towns, Elgiganten, Nota Bene or the electronics department of major supermarkets Pisiffik and Brugsen sell a small range of drones and drone-kits, e.g. the most popular drones, such as those marketed under the brand name DJI. However, it may be a bit of a gamble to assume that you can buy a drone in Greenland, as the range of stores that sell drones – as well as the selection of drones in said stores – is limited. If your favourite model is sold out, it may take several weeks before it is back in stock, since goods are sent to Greenland via cargo vessels.
See a number of fantastic drone clips in many of our videos on our channel at youtube.com/visitgreenland – e.g. this video!