On 14 December 2016, Regulation No.1093/2016 was approved, providing a framework for the operation of drones in Portugal. The regulation applies to all civil drones, except those operating in closed or covered areas. The Regulation has entered into force on 13 January 2017.

The regulation provides general freedom of operation for drones with an operational mass of less than 25 kg, during daytime, within the operators’ visual line of sight (VLOS), up to a maximum altitude of 120 meters above ground level, and in areas not subject to restrictions. For toy aircraft (drones weighing less than 250 grams), the maximum altitude is 30 meters above ground level, and flight is prohibited over people.

The operation of a drone generally requires an authorisation from the National Authority for Civil Aviation (ANAC), requested 12 working days prior to the start of the flight, for cases in which it occurs:
(a) during night time, or 
(b) higher than 120 meters above ground level, or 
(c) beyond visual line of site of the operator (BVLOS), or 
(d) in the case, the drone weighs more than 25 kg. 

Additionally, drone pilots shall: 

1. Not fly if their mental/physical abilities are compromised or if under the influence of psychoactive substance/medication which could affect a secure and controlled operation;
2. Not fly above crowds of people outdoors (i.e. groups of more than 12 people);
3. Not fly above areas where rescue operations are taking place.

For drones with image collection capabilities, pilots shall consider relevant data protection obligations, set forth in Law 67/98. If a drone is used to perform aerial surveys, it shall request an authorization from the National Aeronautical Authority.

To assist pilots, ANAC has launched a website – voanaboa.pt– to provide an overview of the rules established. The website includes: 

- An FAQ section;
- An interactive map displaying restricted flying areas on Portugal’s territory via Google Earth;
- The template authorization request form from ANAC.

The regulation does not impose requirements related to matters of registration, insurance and training for pilots.