Japan Drone Laws and Regulations
Must NOT fly above 150 meters (492 feet)
Must NOT fly within 9 km of airports
Must keep at least 30 meters (98 feet) away from people, buildings and vehicles
Must NOT fly at night
Must always maintain Visual Line of Sight (VLoS) when operating the drone
Must NOT transport hazardous materials such as explosives on the drone
Must NOT drop any objects from the drone
Must NOT be flown in any of Metropolitan Tokyo’s 81 public parks and gardens
Must NOT fly over densely populated areas like cities (4000 people per square kilometer or more)
Must NOT fly over densely populated areas such as festivals and events
JAPAN DRONE FINES
If any of the rules above are violated, the drone operator is liable for fines up to a 500,000 JPY.
*Please note that the drone laws are always changing. This is not a definitive guide and you must check with the local authorities and the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism directly for the most up to date laws and regulations.
Japan Drone Permission Requirement Self-Check
1. Does your drone weigh less than 200 grams?
If your drone weighs less than 200 grams, you do not need to get permission from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). But if you will fly your drone in densely populated areas such as temples, castles, tourist destinations, public parks, festivals, concerts, etc., you should notify the local facility administrator prior to flying your drone.
2. Will your drone fly in any of the following airspaces?
You MUST get permission from the MLIT to fly your drone if (A)(B)or(C):
A) If you want to fly above 150 meters (492ft)
B) If you want to fly within 9km of an airport
C) If you want to fly over densely populated areas (4000 people per square km or more)
Please refer to the link below to see Japan's Airports and No-FlyZones
EXAMPLE: Tokyo Airports and NO-FLY Zones
HOW TO FLY YOUR DRONE IN TOKYO OR OTHER DENSELY POPULATED AREaS IN JAPAN
The drone application process with the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) goes like this:
1. Download the application online.
2. Fill it out, and send out the first draft via email.
3. Receive feedback on the application from MILT.
4. Make any requested changes to the original application.
Note: Steps 3&4 may repeat if you don’t change the applications as the MLIT requested.
5. When the application is approved, they will send you the non-official copy of the permission letter via email. They will also ask you to send a printout of the updated application form with your personal seal on it, along with an envelope and stamps to send the official letter back.
6. After a few days/weeks, you will receive the official permission letter.
7. And then you are ready to fly in Japan!
**MLIT do have an online application system for Microsoft Windows users. Mac users are unable to use the online application form. If you are overseas and are a Windows user, then it may be the easiest way for you to apply.
***You do not have to fill out some parts in the application if your drone is listed in this waver list below. (Updated on 2017 Dec. 20)
****Depending on the location you chose to fly, you need to get a permission from property/facility management on your own. The permission from MLIT does not allow you to fly drones without these additional permission.
WHEN TO APPLY?
The MLIT website recommends to apply at least 10 business days in advance but the lawyer advices to plan for 4-5 weeks in advance.
One thing you need to remember is that, if you want to fly near airports or above 150 meters, you have to get a permission from the applicable Airport Office in addition to the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Also, in the densely populate area in Tokyo, you need to get a permission from the property/facility management in addition to a permission from the MLIT so you might want to apply a few weeks earlier than what is recommended above.
FILLING OUT THE APPLICATION
This may be the most difficult part in this process as the application form is quite thorough. For one, it’s all in Japanese. The MLIT do NOT accept English applications. There are a lot of boxes to check-off and some parts require a written explanation.
The process can be slightly simplified if you have one of the pre-aproved drones on the MLIT's list. If you have a drone like the DJI MAVIC PRO which is on MLIT's list, you could copy and paste most of the stuff where you are suppose to write it in Japanese.
The application consists of 10 parts
1. UAV flight Permit, Approval Application Form
2. Route of the flight
3. Manufacture, Name and Weight of UAV
4. Statement of Conformity about Function and Performance of UAV
5. Unmanned UAV
6. Additional Compatibility of UAV
7. List of Operators of UAV
8. Compatibility of operators of UAV based on the application
9. Additional Compatibility of operators of UAV
10. Flight Manual
MLIT Drone Application First Section (English Translation*)
*Example ONLY - English Translation may not be 100% accurate
JAPAN DRONE APPLICATION SERVICE
If you would like help, you can be referred to an English-speaking lawyer in Japan. The lawyer can answer Japan drone permission related questions FREE-of-charge and can also obtain drone permission from the Japan Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for a fee. Please fill out the form below to contact a lawyer.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
1. FILL OUT THE FORM
Tell us when, where and how you want to fly your drone. (See form below)
2. FREE CHECK
An English-speaking lawyer in Japan will contact you and confirm if you need to get permission from the MLIT.
The lawyer cannot get permissions for some of regulated flights as below.
- flights over events, festivals, concerts, etc.
- transporting hazardous materials
- flight to drop objects from the drone
Based on the information you give during the free consultation, the lawyer will give you a quote.
3. PAY LEGAL FEE
Once you send payment fo the legal fee directly to the lawyer (see LEGAL FEE) prior to the application process.
There will be a refund if the application is denied by the MLIT. However, please understand that there will not be a refund if reasons of permission denial was caused by you (i.e. you did not provide sufficient information to the lawyer) or if you attempt to request a permission date earlier than lawyer's recommendation.
4. LAWYER SUBMITS APPLICATION
Once you send payment, the lawyer starts the application process.
If yes, the drone application process will take 4-5 weeks.
5. FINALIZE APPLICATION
The lawyer will send you the finalized official application form to your address or via email. Please print out on your own if you decide to have it sent by email.
You will sign the finalized OFFICIAL APPLICATION FORM and send it back to the lawyer's office via post. (You may send the OFFICIAL APPLICATION FORM prior to your visit to Japan or after you enter Japan, but it may be better to send it from your home country since you will not be able to fly your drone until you receive a PERMISSION LETTER from the MLIT)
After the lawyer receives the signed OFFICIAL APPLICATION FORM, the lawyer will review it and send it to the MLIT for approval.
The lawyer is able to send you in advance an unofficial PERMISSION LETTER (via email) but it is not valid until the signed OFFICIAL APPLICATION FORM is sent to MLIT.
6. ENJOY FLYING IN JAPAN
Print out the official or non-official permission letter from the MLIT and carry it with you during your flight(s).
ONLY when MLIT receive your signed application form, does the NON-official permission letter becomes a valid permission document.
*Process may vary slightly for steps 5&6 depending on your arrival date in Japan.
**It is your responsibility to get a permission from property/facility management prior to your flight.
- FREE - A lawyer will confirm if you need to get permission to fly your drone in Japan
- 400.00 USD and up - The lawyer will give you an quote based on your flight requirements after the free consultation
Only overseas remittance is accepted for the payment.
FREE JAPAN DRONE PERMISSION VERIFICATION
We'll send your information to an English-speaking lawyer in Japan, who can verify if you need to obtain permission from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to fly your drone in Japan for FREE. You'll get a response within 1-3 business days.
*The TokyoZebra.com website refers drone operators to lawyers in Japan who can assist with the Japan MLIT drone application process. TokyoZebra.com is not responsible for future interactions between the drone operator and lawyer. TokyoZebra.com is not responsible for actions performed by drone operators in Japan.