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Vietnam Drone Rules In Practice

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I'm planning a trip to Vietnam soon (they are reopening to tourists in March 2022). I am wondering if anyone from Vietnam or travelers with experience there could help me understand how drone laws are applied there in practice.

I've read all the usual websites summarizing the rules. In short, drones can legally be brought into the country with no special paperwork. However, every flight requires special permit with specifics of flight location, date, times, duration, purpose, detailed specs about the drone (including the power of the motors? really?).

Once you submit your very detailed request it goes into a beaurocratic black hole and you get no response and no permit. Ever. In PRACTICE I have read that you're safe if you don't fly in major cities and keep your flying to rural areas. YouTube is full of all sorts of Vietnam footage (presumably the flights were done without a permit). I have also read reports of many drones being confiscated upon arrival at Da Nang airport.

My wife and I run a YouTube travel vlog and it would be fantastic to capture some footage of this beautiful country. We are US citizens but speak no Vietnamese. I'm a part 107 license holder in the US with the FAA, but I don't think that matters at all. My drone is a Mini 2.

What has been your experience?

Thanks in advance.
 
I'm planning a trip to Vietnam soon (they are reopening to tourists in March 2022). I am wondering if anyone from Vietnam or travelers with experience there could help me understand how drone laws are applied there in practice.


Thanks in advance.
Not sure about the semantics of flying however we do have a few clients out there that use the Wet Suits for there drones considering how much it rains. They are able to fly in most parts without to much red tape.

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly you Mini 2 in the Rain.
 
I'm planning a trip to Vietnam soon (they are reopening to tourists in March 2022). I am wondering if anyone from Vietnam or travelers with experience there could help me understand how drone laws are applied there in practice.

I've read all the usual websites summarizing the rules. In short, drones can legally be brought into the country with no special paperwork. However, every flight requires special permit with specifics of flight location, date, times, duration, purpose, detailed specs about the drone (including the power of the motors? really?).

Once you submit your very detailed request it goes into a beaurocratic black hole and you get no response and no permit. Ever. In PRACTICE I have read that you're safe if you don't fly in major cities and keep your flying to rural areas. YouTube is full of all sorts of Vietnam footage (presumably the flights were done without a permit). I have also read reports of many drones being confiscated upon arrival at Da Nang airport.

My wife and I run a YouTube travel vlog and it would be fantastic to capture some footage of this beautiful country. We are US citizens but speak no Vietnamese. I'm a part 107 license holder in the US with the FAA, but I don't think that matters at all. My drone is a Mini 2.

What has been your experience?

Thanks in advance.

Those YouTube videos simply were done without being caught, as you obviously understand based upon your comments. They aren't examples of law versus practice. Going into a foreign country to willfully disobey clearly written laws seems like a really dumb idea to me. And when you get caught the Vietnamese authorities aren't likely to treat that as a reason to relax those laws, so you're just making the situation worse for whomever wants to fly there next.
 
Those YouTube videos simply were done without being caught, as you obviously understand based upon your comments. They aren't examples of law versus practice. Going into a foreign country to willfully disobey clearly written laws seems like a really dumb idea to me. And when you get caught the Vietnamese authorities aren't likely to treat that as a reason to relax those laws, so you're just making the situation worse for whomever wants to fly there next.
Let's all agree that people hate drones! That is, unless you fly a drone! The default answer to the question, "can I fly my drone here?" is NO! No government worker will say yes, for fear of their own hide. My philosophy of drone flying in a foreign country has been to take the drone in the carry on, and if you feel secure, do a quick stealth flight. I have tried to the point of exhaustion, for months on months, to get the authorizations to fly in the UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi), and in Tanzania, and Kenya. Now I have just given up on getting permits for flying in Chile for an upcoming trip. I did get a permit finally in Tanzania and flew only in camp, and not on safari.

The complexity of the applications (the Chilean application was 79 pages in Spanish), and the failure to receive replies to questions was just too much so I stopped trying. The bureaucracy is stifling!

I will be packing the Mavic 2 Pro, and if given an opportunity (nobody around for miles) I will consider unfurling the drone for some quick shots. I expect a lot of blow back from all of you out there. Perhaps that is why nobody as really answered to to this yet.
 
I am a firm believer in common sense and if you believe your flight to be safe , and no chance of harm of person or things and your drone is able to fly , than it becomes a judgement call. However if there are signs posted that forbid Drone flying, Than I would most likely take a step back.

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly in the Rain / Snow
 
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I have an in-built hassle meter. If I feel the hassle factor is high, I dont fly, whether it be in another country or here in Australia. On some occasions, I will walk to the location, stay distant from the public without it actually looking like I am being sneeky or hiding, go up, take my shot, come down. Sometimes I wait until the general public have gone home to take my shots.
 
I am a firm believer in common sense and if you believe your flight to be safe , and no chance of harm of person or things and your drone is able to fly , than it becomes a judgement call. However if there are signs posted that forbid Drone flying, Than I would most likely take a step back.

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly in the Rain / Snow
In the presence of "No Drone" signs, I do not fly.

These countries are BIG. And there are many miles between stops. There are millions of miles of scenery that are not congested with people. Thus, many opportunities to fly and capture the essence of the country without endangering anyone. I always use common sense and my head is on a swivel looking around for possible objectors- a uniform, a Karen, etc. But in my travels, my method pf preference is driving if possible and there are numerous pull outs. If it a definite police-state atmosphere (like Muscat, Oman where fines are 10,000 USD and a year in jail, then, of course, no, I would never take a chance). You can't teach common sense, and you can't teach stupid.
 
Just a heads up. Some countries when going through airport security will impound your drone till you leave. Dubai, is one of them. Depends on who you get checking your luggage. If they find your drone expect it to be taken away till you leave. Hopefully you will get it back. Best to travel with a sub 250 gram drone as most countries have the same rules where you do not need any documentation.

 
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Just a heads up. Some countries when going through airport security will impound your drone till you leave. Dubai, is one of them. Depends on who you get checking your luggage. If they find your drone expect it to be taken away till you leave. Hopefully you will get it back. Best to travel with a sub 250 gram drone as most countries have the same rules where you do not need any documentation.

Yes- you are correct! I found all of that confiscation stuff out when I applied to the authorities in Dubai. They are crazy sensitive about drones and in a case like that....common sense, don't pack the drone. It's getting to the point now that I may decide where I am going and where I am not going depending on whether or not drones are permitted. I know it is a pipe dream, but if every drone owner decided not to go to a place because of their draconian drone laws, it might loosen up their laws.
 
It is a communist country that puts up with tourism as an economic driver. But you don't have a lot of say as a visitor. Fly at your own risk. I have been there a couple times in the last decade and love South Vietnam. Enjoy.
 
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It is a communist country that puts up with tourism as an economic driver. But you don't have a lot of say as a visitor. Fly at your own risk. I have been there a couple times in the last decade and love South Vietnam. Enjoy.
For what it's worth, my wife and I found the Vietnamese people some of the friendliest people in Asia. I was there many years ago, pre-drone.
 
For what it's worth, my wife and I found the Vietnamese people some of the friendliest people in Asia. I was there many years ago, pre-drone.
Yes, I agree. People are wonderful as is the food. Coasts are scenic, islands are fun, lots of history, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is full of things to do and see. You should love it. Here are some galleries from a trip a while back. Any aerial shots were taken from a plane as it was in my pre-drone days. Lot of underwater shots in here as some of the travel was for an article about diving Viet.

Five Galleries on Vietnam
 
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Not sure about the semantics of flying however we do have a few clients out there that use the Wet Suits for there drones considering how much it rains. They are able to fly in most parts without to much red tape.

Phantomrain.org
Gear to fly you Mini 2 in the Rain.
Hi,
Did you final take the drone with you?
I have the same question because on August i am going to visit Vietnam.
In fact at the first day i have a fligt to Da Nang and I'm worried about that.
My drone is the mavic air 2S and looks so complicated and probaply costly to get a permition..
 
In the end we went to Singapore and Indonesia instead. Both are quite friendly for drones and we had no problems whatsoever.

My plan for Vietnam if we HAD to fly into Da Nang (DAD) was to hide the drone from customs inspectors in my checked luggage. I read somewhere that they only look for drones in your carry-on baggage.

I would have at least the batteries and controller in my carry-on baggage (as per airline safety policies). Then on arrival I would retrieve our checked baggage and quickly and quietly hide the drone, controller, and batteries in my checked baggage.

The best thing of course would be to avoid an international arrival at Da Nang if you are carrying a drone. It would be best if you can arrange your flight itinerary so that you arrive in SGN or HAN and depart from DAD (or any other airport for that matter).

Any recent experiences from pilots who've been through Vietnam with a drone would be greatly appreciated!
 
Not sure it's a good idea for any of us to advocate circumventing customs/etc. It also makes matters much worse if it's clear you were intentionally hiding it. Also the batteries at the very least cannot safely go into checked baggage, and having loose drone batteries in your carry on might raise some suspicions. (Plus where exactly would you transfer stuff back to checked baggage without raising alarm)
 
Not sure it's a good idea for any of us to advocate circumventing customs/etc. It also makes matters much worse if it's clear you were intentionally hiding it. Also the batteries at the very least cannot safely go into checked baggage, and having loose drone batteries in your carry on might raise some suspicions. (Plus where exactly would you transfer stuff back to checked baggage without raising alarm)
Bringing a drone into Vietnam is perfectly legal. The problem appears to be some sort of corruption only in the Da Nang airport. There are MANY reports of drones being confiscated. Some are returned for a fee.

As I stated the "I would have at least the batteries and controller in my carry-on baggage (as per airline safety policies). Then on arrival I would retrieve our checked baggage and quickly and quietly hide the drone, controller, and batteries in my checked baggage."

It isn't uncommon for people to shuffle items around or go digging for things once they've retrieved their bags. My hope is that the customs check and xray scanner is far away from the luggage carousel. I doubt any suspicion would be raised.

So the options are (in order of my preference):
  1. Avoid Da Nang international arrivals if you have a drone.
  2. If you must bring a drone into Da Nang, help them avoid their own corruption. Hide the drone.
Is it worth the risk for my Mini2? Maybe. Is it worth the risk to get a Air2S confiscated. Probably not.
 
In the end we went to Singapore and Indonesia instead. Both are quite friendly for drones and we had no problems whatsoever.

My plan for Vietnam if we HAD to fly into Da Nang (DAD) was to hide the drone from customs inspectors in my checked luggage. I read somewhere that they only look for drones in your carry-on baggage.

I would have at least the batteries and controller in my carry-on baggage (as per airline safety policies). Then on arrival I would retrieve our checked baggage and quickly and quietly hide the drone, controller, and batteries in my checked baggage.

The best thing of course would be to avoid an international arrival at Da Nang if you are carrying a drone. It would be best if you can arrange your flight itinerary so that you arrive in SGN or HAN and depart from DAD (or any other airport for that matter).

Any recent experiences from pilots who've been through Vietnam with a drone would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for your reply.
I don't have any international flight at Da Nang airport but only a domestic flight :)
I read that this problem existed at a time when they had a conference in the country. Nothing similar has happened in recent years.
 
Not sure it's a good idea for any of us to advocate circumventing customs/etc. It also makes matters much worse if it's clear you were intentionally hiding it. Also the batteries at the very least cannot safely go into checked baggage, and having loose drone batteries in your carry on might raise some suspicions. (Plus where exactly would you transfer stuff back to checked baggage without raising alarm)I totally agree
 
Not sure it's a good idea for any of us to advocate circumventing customs/etc. It also makes matters much worse if it's clear you were intentionally hiding it. Also the batteries at the very least cannot safely go into checked baggage, and having loose drone batteries in your carry on might raise some suspicions. (Plus where exactly would you transfer stuff back to checked baggage without raising alarm)
I totally agree with you!
 
Bringing a drone into Vietnam is perfectly legal. The problem appears to be some sort of corruption only in the Da Nang airport. There are MANY reports of drones being confiscated. Some are returned for a fee.

As I stated the "I would have at least the batteries and controller in my carry-on baggage (as per airline safety policies). Then on arrival I would retrieve our checked baggage and quickly and quietly hide the drone, controller, and batteries in my checked baggage."

It isn't uncommon for people to shuffle items around or go digging for things once they've retrieved their bags. My hope is that the customs check and xray scanner is far away from the luggage carousel. I doubt any suspicion would be raised.

So the options are (in order of my preference):
  1. Avoid Da Nang international arrivals if you have a drone.
  2. If you must bring a drone into Da Nang, help them avoid their own corruption. Hide the drone.
Is it worth the risk for my Mini2? Maybe. Is it worth the risk to get a Air2S confiscated. Probably not.
Thank you for you comments.
I have only a domestic flight At Danang airport from Saigon.
So if i am not mistakes this will not be an issue.
Am i right?
Also ι have read a report that says that this problem existed at a time when they had a conference in the country. Nothing similar has happened in recent years.
 
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