If you flown a drone before 2014, you belong to the few that enjoyed the freedom of the Wild West. You could capture some excellent videos such as birds-eye views of football stadia and beaches. There were no fines and the rules were simple: stick to the legal flying places.
2015 changed it all, so be careful if you read articles issued before that year. The Spain’s ruling of drone laws in 2015 kicked in, establishing fines of circa €400,000.
Why? Spain deem the art of flying a drone to be dangerous, reminiscent of drones used in wars. To protect the nation from any incoming terrorist attack, various military forces are constantly watching the air for any suspicious activity. If your drone shows up, it could put the country on red alert and waste valuable governmental resources in preventing a false attack. And for those who think that Spain’s rules are a case of all bark, no bite: the Spanish government has collected almost €2 million from drone fines alone since 2015. No joking. Be careful!
Now, there are differences between private drone flying and commercial usage. The problem here is that as a private user, you can’t sell your aerial photos and videos without having a license, security, and official permission from the AESA (Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aerea). To get permission, write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You may NOT exceed an altitude of 120 meters (400 feet)
you may NOT can’t fly near buildings and urban areas with population. People-frequented beaches, concerts, streets of any town, parks, sports fields, etc., are therefore excluded.
The drone owner is, in any case, fully responsible and liable for possible damages.
You may NOT fly your drone in a controlled airspace, including anywhere your drone could collide with other type of manned aircrafts, including areas with paragliders. In any case, you have to be, at least, 8km from any airport, heliport or airfield.
The drone must weigh less than 10kg.
The drone has to stay in visual range at a maximum of 100 meters.
You may NOT fly the drone at night.
You have to respect other’s privacy and may NOT use the drone for remote surveillance and similar activities. Keep in mind that this is a very serious offence in Spain and therefore is heavily fined (you could even go to jail).
Important! Do not try to fly your drone over populated areas as you’ll be on the cards to get fined or even detained. See the Barcelona’s detailed map below? All the city air space is banned to drone flying, even the mountains behind the city…
Can I capture footage with my Drone?
It depends. From a legal point of view, you can only capture footage if you are authorised by the AESA. This is big stuff, as the Spanish public administration is not as flexible as it should be.
In the real world, my advise is: stick to small areas that are not populated highly, don’t stick too close to the ground, yet don’t fly at an obscenely high altitude. You have to know your limitations. You could possibly fly around your back yard, garden or even a park. Anything more than that and Spain’s tough law system could crack down on you and, looking at their track record, there would be no issue in them doing so.