Are you traveling to Morocco or Egypt and are you bringing a drone? Bad news: Drones are strictly prohibited in Morocco and Egypt without permission from the respective Civil Aviation Authority. Attempting to sneak one into either country is not recommended. Customs at the airport, and the police, are exceptionally vigilant about catching people who try to sneak drones into either country. If they catch you bringing in the drone, you may be fined but you will lose your drone. No exceptions.
As for Egypt, a law approved in December of 2017 regulates the use of drones in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks, stipulating fines and prison terms for any violations. “Article 1 of the law bans local administration units, such as public ministries, local councils, public institutions, companies and individuals from using, manufacturing, trading, assessing, importing or possessing drones unless they obtain a permit from the competent authority, the Ministry of Defense. Violating this regulation would entail a period of imprisonment of no less than one year and no more than seven years, and/or a fine of no less than LE 5,000 ($283.54) and no more than LE 50,000 ($2,835.40).” (source: Egypt Today).
Can you get a drone into Morocco or Egypt legally? Yes… but it isn’t an easy process. You will need to receive permission from the respective Civil Aviation Authority.
DCA Contact Form / +212 3 773 242
email@example.com / +202 202-22677613
What are your chances on sneaking one into either country successfully? About 50 percent at best. Even then, you still have to sneak it back OUT of the country as they check bags again on the way INTO the airport. Sneaking it in and out is risky… and your chances are low and the penalties are high - but, you won’t be sneaking it in simply to have it on your person, you will want to use it as well. And that is risky too!
“a number of British nationals were fined and had their passports confiscated for flying drones without permission.” - Foreign & Commonwealth Office of U.K.
So, what should you do if you're already in the process of traveling and you have your drone with you?
If you’re going into Egypt, find a way to get rid of your drone before you arrive in Egypt. If you arrive and you have it, do your best to not have it - send it home, mail it away, consider throwing it in the garbage (we actually brought ours into the country by accident!). See below for details.
If you’re going into Morocco, the best recommendation is to stop at Customs, BEFORE the bag scanner, and declare your drone to the authority sitting at the desk. Yes, let them know that you have one! Many people tried quite hard to direct me to the “Nothing to Declare” line, but I insisted that I had something to declare. It was a confusing moment for me.
I was worried when I arrived in both Morocco and Egypt that if I declared the drone I might not receive it back. Well, that wasn't true. In Morocco, they did return my drone to me!
However, if you don’t want to declare it, skip to the bottom section.
This is what I did:
1. Declare your Drone in the appropriate line at customs in the airport. DO NOT go through the bag scanning machine ("Nothing to Declare" line). They will give you a receipt for your drone which you will need to pick up your drone upon leaving.
2. Make sure you are also flying out of the same airport. This was difficult for us as we had originally planned to fly out of a different airport so we needed to rearrange our plans to fly out of the same one.
3. When you are ready to leave Morocco, go back to the same airport and check-in with your airline. If you have any bags that you need to check, check them at that time as well. You will not be able to return to check-in counter once you pick up your drone.
4. Fill out your Exit Paper (it's a small slip that is required for leaving the country and you need it to get your passport stamped). You will need to have this so the guard can walk you through to security without having to wait in the line (s/he will likely not want to wait with you to fill it out after you pick up the drone).
5. Prior to going through security you will need to go back to the same exact spot that you dropped off your drone. You may need to go through a small security check to get there. Once you arrive, hand them the receipt along with 201 Moroccan Dirham (about $20 USD). This is their "storage fee" for holding your drone in the locker room. There are around 100 drones in that room at any given time, so if you don't have your receipt they will not know which one is yours and you will not receive it back!
6. They will issue you a receipt, which you have to sign, and return your drone to you! (Congratulations!)
7. A security guard will walk with you to the customs desk at the security checkpoint. Customs will allow you to pass into the security line.
8. You have to walk through security to get into the international part of the airport. At this point your drone will go through the regular bag check and you will have all of your electronics out and in separate bins as usual, including the drone. THEY WILL NOTICE THE DRONE!
9. You will be required to show them your receipt for having picked up your drone. If you do not have your receipt you will likely get fined and lose your drone! So, even if you somehow did sneak your drone into the country, you will likely fail here! Show them the receipt and you have successfully made it back out of the country while still owning the drone. Well done!
Please let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like to add any additional comments! Thanks and best of luck!
Passing through Security WITH your drone
While we won’t advise passing through security WITH your drone, we did happen to accidentally pass through security in Egypt with our drone. Simply put, we were so tired from the lack of sleep that we simply forgot that we had to do it.
This is what happened: I did take the battery’s OUT of the drone and kept them completely away from the drone that I was carrying (a DJI Mavik Air). However, like I mentioned, we simply forgot to declare it and there was such a long line at the bag scanner machine that the security guard waved about half of us around to pass without doing the bag checks. Then, I suddenly realized that we got off pretty lucky!
Keep in mind that in Egypt, you have to come back into the airport at some point to fly out - AND they do a bag check AGAIN before you are allowed back inside! I was rightfully worried… but, with the batteries separate from the drone, I simply put the bag on the bag check machine and waited to see what would happen. The bag went through and the guard had only slightly glanced at the machine. I imagine that if he had looked a little longer it might not have turned out so well, but he didn’t. I was carrying a DJI Mavik Air.
It is worth mentioning that while it was tempting to fly my drone in Egypt as I had it with me for the full month, I was only ever in Cairo (where they are noticed much more often) and then on a tour down the Nile River through Luxor to Aswan and then at Abu Simbel. Flying a drone around any famous or ancient tourist spots is pretty risky, so I didn’t fly it at all during that trip… but that’s another story.
If you’re going to try to sneak it into the country, I would recommend considering doing it overland or via boat - not through the airports.
Best of luck to you if you try any of these methods!
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