DJI Mavic, Air and Mini Drones
Friendly, Helpful & Knowledgeable Community
Join Us Now

About flying in Mexico's archaeological sites

IvanG

New Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2017
Messages
3
Reactions
7
Age
58
Location
YUCATAN PENINSULA, MEXICO
Hello everyone.

A few days ago I responded to a comment on the thread "Post your best Photo From Mavic", about the possibility of using a drone in the Chichen Itza archaeological site (Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico). As I am based in the area, I pitched in with some information I thought might be useful for traveling pilots hoping to do just that.

Since it was rather off topic for that thread and I have come across some fresh information, I thought I'd share it in this new thread.

As I mentioned in my original response, Mexican law does not require a license for non-commercial operation of UAVs under 2Kgs, so generally speaking you can fly your Mavic in Mexico if you abide by basic rules and no-fly zones.

However, all archaeological sites are seriously regulated by INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia), a nation-wide federal authority with ample powers and a lenghty record of heavy handed enforcement.

General photography with handheld cameras is OK within archaeological sites in Mexico, but anything involving the use of a tripod or specialized equipment such as a drone requires applying for a permit through INAH'S website at least 10 days in advance, and payment of the corresponding fees (approx US $ 285 per shooting day for photography, US $ 568 per day for videography, depending on the exchange rate). A short "screenplay" or "storyboard" describing the general intent of the footage to be acquired must be filed with that application.

Last week I revisited the Uxmal archaeological site in the state of Yucatan and came upon new signs at the gate. One sign refers specifically to drones, stating that they are NOT ALLOWED. The other new sign announces fees that must be paid at the gate before entering the site in order to use "non-professional" video devices such as small camcorders, GoPros and 360VR cameras. The fee for these is a measly 45 pesos (about US $ 2.50)

I'm posting photos of those two new signs, which I'm sure must by now be posted at the gates of all of Mexico's archaeological sites currently open to the public. I'm also posting a non-drone photo of one of the main structures in Uxmal, for illustration purposes only, as it is a beautiful site where it would be lovely to get some aerial footage (prettier than Chichen Itza IMHO, and always significantly less crowded).

I have no relation to INAH and I'm not posting this info in any legal capacity whatsoever. Rather, I just want to give back some potentially useful information to a forum that has been very educational to me.

Safe flying to you all.


UXMAL-1.jpg UXMAL-2.jpg UXMAL-3.jpg
 
Thnaks Ivan, although no plans to go to Mexico anytime soon, it's good to know about these things.
I do like watching the mexico vids put up, looks amazing down there.

Just wanted ask, I assume this would be no operating, take off, retrieve inside the grouds, but is it like FAA and our CASA in Australia, where you are ok to fly over still ?
We have this in Nat Pks too where you can take off outside, fly over, fly out and land all ok.

But I assume it is more to do with the actual commercial filming of these places themselves that authorities are placing these rules on, whatever the distance ?
 
  • Like
Reactions: IvanG
Thnaks Ivan, although no plans to go to Mexico anytime soon, it's good to know about these things.
I do like watching the mexico vids put up, looks amazing down there.

Just wanted ask, I assume this would be no operating, take off, retrieve inside the grouds, but is it like FAA and our CASA in Australia, where you are ok to fly over still ?
We have this in Nat Pks too where you can take off outside, fly over, fly out and land all ok.

But I assume it is more to do with the actual commercial filming of these places themselves that authorities are placing these rules on, whatever the distance ?

Hello MAvic_South_Oz, please accept my apologies for taking so long to reply, I had not been able to log back into the forum.

I have not consulted directly with official sources on these matters, but judging from press reports and the information available to the public, here's what I gather:

- According to Mexico's aviation authorities, they have no specific provisions banning the use of air space by drones over archaeological sites. In 2017 said authorities issued four evolving versions of official guidelines for the use of UAVs below 2Kgs, which they classify in the "Micro" category, with no special requirements for flight beyond normal safety guidelines. They state that flight over crowds is prohibited, defining crowds as groups of over 12 individuals, and as a general rule drones should keep a minimum altitude of 46 meters over people (groups of less than 12). However, in reference to the discussion about flying over archaeological sites, they have also stated that new provisions may be put in place in the future as a result of specific requests by other official entities (such as INAH).

Having said that, from the point of view of INAH (the official entity in charge of all archaeological sites), all such places and monuments within them are national property and therefore subject to various laws and regulations. The images of Chichen Itza that went viral recently (and have since been taken down by its author) were made at 5:00 am, before the site was open to the public. An official with INAH stated in a press interview that this is equivalent to "breaking and entering into an archaeological site property of the nation, akin to breaking into a museum at dawn". However, he also stated that "It is not the use of drones that worries us, but how it's done, official procedures are available to do it". By this he means that a photographer/videographer can ask for a permit through proper channels and pay the corresponding fees, then go ahead and get his images once the permit has been granted. Payment of such fees is a source of revenue for INAH, so this has to be taken into account regarding their motivation for enforcement.

If the filming or photography to be done is clearly for commercial purposes, then getting a permit is without any question a requirement. If INAH detects commercial use of images created in an archaeological site without a corresponding permit, they can/will try to impose sanctions/fines on the producing entity (production house, photographer) and the entity broadcasting the material.

So, regardless of any gray areas, my personal conclusion would be that for casual image makers whose use of the material does not justify the cost of a permit, it would probably be best to find some other place to fly and get images of other motifs. In the case of professional image makers, the cost of the fee should very well offset any potential problems or worries. Now that this has become such an issue, taking off from outside the zone and flying over it might produce a scenario where security personnel would try to follow the drone to its take off point, and a not very amicable exchange might ensue if they find the culprit. Best avoided, in my opinion. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAvic_South_Oz
Lycus Tech Mavic Air 3 Case

DJI Drone Deals

New Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
129,899
Messages
1,547,293
Members
158,965
Latest member
lepermessiah70