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Travelling the world with my Mavic - My Experience/Peru Help?


New Member
May 14, 2017
I just thought I'd share my experience of Mavic ownership whilst travelling as frequently questions are asked regarding mavic usage abroad, carrying it on flights, and custom rules.
Hopefully it'll answer some questions, or teach you from my few mistakes. I know this forum was really helpful for me when I had unanswered questions.

Buying a drone whilst travelling
13 months ago I left the UK to travel, having always wanted a Phantom I knew it would be too bulky for some of my 'backpacking' and the whilst Mavic had just been released there was a still a line of people waiting for theirs to be delivered.
Also, from my initial research I didn't think I would be able to take it in to some of the countries I planned on visiting.

My route looked like the following:
India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, US (California only), Peru, Chile

Initially India, Peru and Chile were no drone zones, but I didn't buy my drone until I reached Australia. Prices here were more competitive than the UK, and I had been temping for a couple of months at a tech-store and received a little discount. Also the laws for Peru and Chile had changed by this point.

Flying with the Mavic
This has been covered multiple times now. But flying with the Mavic is, for the most part, simple. I have done so over 25 times, domestic and international.
Keep it all as carry on, and keep it protected. Cabin crew love throwing the bags about in overheads.
I have 2 batteries, I typically kept one in the Mavic and another in my drone bag (a generic camera bag) with a little bit of LX/PVC tape over the terminal. I don't know if I needed the tape, I often forgot it, but I never used a LiPo bag. The batteries are well within the capacity allowed for flying with.

I did always declare the drone when requested. Many airports have x-rays upon arrivals, no countries I visited had a no-drone rule, but a few wanted them declared at least. So I did as requested, only twice did they ask to see it.

With my editing laptop, Mavic and other small bits my carry-on was often over the weight limit, but due to it being discrete I was never asked.... I'm not promoting this, but having lost checked bags I would never put anything valuable in my checked bag.

India - A year ago this was a no drone zone by all accounts. I didn't have the Mavic at this point, so I didn't look in to any work arounds - this may have changed.

Japan - No drone signs everywhere in the cities/temples. I never saw a drone in my month here, but there are beautiful rural areas I would have loved to have filmed - again I didn't own the Mavic then.

Australia - There are more drones here than anywhere else I've visited, and there's plenty of options to buy. The country is beautiful and perfect for drone ownership - vast open spaces, beautiful beaches, etc. Most states won't let you fly in National Parks though, except Queensland (conveniently I was situated here for 2 months). Apps like Can I Fly There help.

New Zealand - As above, beautiful place to fly. There are a number of places you cannot fly, check The south island is amazingly beautiful.

Fiji - They ask you register your drone before arrival to the country. This form can be found online. I then emailed them a copy of the form and was asked to carry a hard copy (I never needed this). Many awesome islands to explore by drone, but avoid flying near the bigger hotels.

French Polynesia - I found little information on drone usage here. So i just observed general rules, and respected people private land/privacy. I often had the locals, even Fire Chiefs, stop and chat about drones. It's really quiet here on some of the islands, and stunning for filming.

US - I voluntarily registered my drone before arrival, for $5 I didn't want any hassle as I didn't have time to sort any potential problems. Nobody asked to see it even at customs. I never had the chance to fly though as I was only there a few days for a connection.

Peru & Chile - Here it got a little more complicated
A year ago I wouldn't have taken a drone to these countries (and for that reason probably not taken one on my trip). But I started seeing more comments on people taking there's but having to work hard for it. Initially in Peru you had to register it in Lima, then that changed.

The mistakes
Now you can take it but have to declare it and pay the import tax on the drone - you're given papers and told you can retrieve your money once you leave the country.
They saw my Mavic upon arrivals at an x-ray (but I had also declared it on the paperwork) - in a mix of my broken Spanish, and their broken English they registered the serial number, took my details, then made me pay $180 USD (with the Mavic estimated at $1000). I was informed to return to the same desk for my money upon departure with 3 hours to spare.

I spent 3 weeks in Peru, and flew back out of the same airport (Lima). I arrived in plenty of time and immediately checked in my bags then began searching for the customs office. Now here's where the ****-up begins, there wasn't a customs desk/office on the departure side of the airport. The information desk outright refused to help me as she couldn't understand how or why I was owed money. And all other staff directed us to go through security - which didn't sound right to us. After 2 hours in the airport we decided we'd listen to the staff and pass security (which isn't a quick process at this airport), where we found no desk and even less staff willing to help us. Eventually I found a desk belonging to the airline I was flying with whom made some calls and after 20 minutes told me the desk I needed was in arrivals, but before you pass through customs, and I would need to leave the airport to do so. They would need to print me a new ticket with additional airport tax and I would miss my flight. I left with an email address for Sunat (the Peru customs dept) and defeated headed to my departure gate.

Having since emailed this particular office they are telling me that I have the wrong office. The website is pretty usless: National Customs Superintendency of Peru (this is the only English page). And I'm still clueless how I was supposed to visit the customs office, between arrivals and before customs whilst departing the country - so would love to clarify where I went wrong if anyone has done this? Nobody at the airport had a clue when it came to travelers claiming their import tax back. And now home I'm still looking to try and make contact with someone at Sunat/Peru's custom office in Lima - it's a long shot but I'd love my $180 back - Any ideas?

As for flying in Peru, you cannot in over any historic/Inca sites - especially not Machu Picchu. But there a few other options if you're in to hiking or renting a car etc.

Chile - Chile's airport was simple in comparison. The only problem you'll find here as all the sites of interest are complete no fly zones from the deserts to the mountains, unless you have your own transport and can get off the beaten track. I spent some time in Patagonia hiking the Torres Del Paine, the most beautiful landscapes of my whole trip but didn't even take my Mavic as they're hot on the rules - and the elements would be a complete drone killer anyways.

Take your Mavic with you on holiday, you won't always get to fly it, but for it's size why would you leave it at home!? But check the countries rules before arrival and use the maps/apps where possible.

Respect the rules - getting in trouble in a foreign country would be the worst. They're not always as forgiving as your home countries. And being an inconsiderate pilot gives us all a bad reputation - I've met so many people that take an instant dislike to drone owners due to their negative reputation.

I did have to re calibrate my drones compass a few times, but I only did it when requested and that was only after medium/long flights.

It's a bit long, but maybe this helped someone, and it was good for me to get my Peru rant and question out. I'd love some responses to this if anyone knows anything?
Hi mate,

Have been doing so much research as of late to figure out how all this works in Peru and Chile with travelling with a mavic and you have provided the best information so far. So I pretty much have to prepare to lose the money I paid at customs to bring my drone through Lima customs if I can’t figure out to get it back?
And regarding Chile, was there any hassles with paper work whilst going through customs here? I won’t be using my drone in Chile besides Easter Island but I have heard they both have different regulations anyhow. Just wanted to know the process they use for this country.
Thanks in advanced mate
I'm flying next week to Peru I have the same questions will be able to accept it or they going to take it away from me
Sorry I don't always check back in here. But take your drone to Peru - they won't take it away, but they will ask you to pay import tax and register it. Getting the import tax back was complicated, make sure you know where to reclaim your money before you leave the airport.

This was how it was for me, but that was nearly 6 months ago now - man that makes me sad...!
For info, I am travelling around Asia in a couple of months but decided to leave my MP at home.

The clincher was Russia. I have a BIL who was a very senior officer in the Russian Air Force. He is now retired but works in security/safety. He advised that drones are completely banned and it would almost certainly be confiscated at the border. If I did get through and flew it I could end up behind bars for a long time. :(

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