Switzerland wants to adopt the European Drone Regulation, which provides for uniform flight rules for the entire European airspace. But introduction of the regulation is delayed and until further notice national law applies. In addition to the current rules for drone flights at federal level, some cantons have local environmental and noise protection requirements or even flight bans.
FOCA drone map
The FOCA flight zone map shows which areas you are allowed to fly in, where there are restrictions and where flying is prohibited. The map can also be displayed in the Swiss Map Mobile app (under the ‹Aviation› tab). The app also detects your location.
Where is drone-flying permitted?
You do not need a permit to fly a drone that weighs less than 30kg. However, you must always have direct visual contact with your drone when it is in the air. Moreover, there are certain situations in which you need a permit even for smaller drones. Check whether you are allowed to fly your drone at the desired location, and how high. There is a general ban on flying around airfields.
Where is drone-flying prohibited?
Depending on the weight of your drone, you may not be allowed to fly in certain locations:
Where/when you are not permitted to fly
Rules for all drones
Rules for drones weighing 0.5 kg and above
Drone-flying: cantonal rules
Before you fly your drone, check with the local authorities to see if any restrictions apply. For example, restrictions apply to major events, international conferences and sporting events.
It is not permitted to fly a drone near gatherings of people or when you do not have direct visual line of sight to your drone. However, in exceptional cases the FOCA may issue a permit for such flights. For festivals a simple standard permit may be issued.
If your drone weighs more than 30kg, you will always need a permit.
If it is necessary to fly a drone within a prohibited zone, you can find out which licensing office to apply to on the FOCA drone map.
You should allow sufficient time to submit your application and do this as early as possible.
For a drone weighing 500g or more, in Switzerland you must have liability insurance with cover of at least CHF 1 million. However, even with small drones, it is worth finding out how much cover your own liability insurance provides before the first launch.
You may fly over inhabited areas, but must keep your drone at least 100 metres away from gatherings of people. Furthermore, the regulations of the Data Protection Act and privacy laws apply: if there is a possibility that people may be visible on your video or if you are flying over other people's gardens, you must obtain permission from the people in question[HPB1] .
With FPV (First Person View) flying, the pilot follows the drone on video goggles or on a monitor. In this case, a second person must be at your location and always have direct visual contact with the drone in order to be able to take control at any time. Otherwise you need a special permit from the FOCA.
FPV drones are often used for drone racing. This requires a permit from the FOCA.
Even on a smaller drone, the rotors can cause serious harm. If a drone crashes, it can injure people on the ground. Low-flying drones can cause animals to panic. Therefore, be considerate towards people and animals when flying drones. If other aircraft such as helicopters and planes are in the air, land your drone.
There is no general complaints body for prohibited or nuisance drone flights. It is best to speak to the pilot. If that doesn't get you anywhere, you can complain to the police.
Video surveillance by private individuals (Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner FDPIC)
Swiss Federation of Civil Drones: Courses and voluntary register (not official)