Rovaniemi, Finland, city by drone
Photo by: Jani Kärppä

Drone Filming & Permits in Lapland and Finland

Drone filming in Lapland makes cinematic Arctic vistas cheaper and easier than ever before. Here’s some regulation info and winter filming tips from production professionals.

If you are planning to capture aerial shots in Lapland, there are a few things to take into consideration before taking off your drone. Here is a brief overview of your responsibilities, how to use drones in cold Arctic weather, and Lapland aerial photography services.

Drone regulations

EU drone regulations apply in Finland, and a new set of regulations was implemented at the beginning of 2021. We have put together a summary of the regulations that pertain to what is called the Open Category – that is, drone operations where the visual contact remains during the flying, the flying height remains less than 120 meters, and the drone weighs less than 25 kg. While the following list is by no means comprehensive, it should give you a good idea of what to expect and what is expected of you when flying a drone. These regulations are valid during the transition period from 1 January 2021 to 1 January 2023.

  • You must inform the Transport Safety Agency before flying your drone for the first time in Finland
  • All remote pilots must register as operators and pass an online examination
  • You are obligated to comply with the UAS geographical zones
  • Insurance is mandatory
  • Each drone must be marked with the flyer’s contact information
  • Logs on flight information must be kept
  • All accidents or incidents must be reported

The Open Category is subcategorized as follow:

Open A1 Open A2 Open A3
CE markings: C0 and C1
Maximum weight: 900 grams
MaximCE markings: C2um
Maximum weight: 4 kg
CE markings: C2, C3 & C4
Maximum weight: 25 kg
Flights are permitted over
scattered people, but not over crowds
Flights are permitted at a safe distance from all people Flights are permitted far away from people and settlements
Training requirement:

The remote pilot of a device weighing more than 250 grams must have completed the online examination

Training requirement:

Online examination and an additional supervised examination on theoretical knowledge

Training requirement:

Online examination

Source: DroneInfo

Permits and written permission are required for some drone filming. Flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and operating near airports or other restricted areas also have more stringent requirements. If you need details or help to obtain a permit, Film Lapland is always happy to help.

DroneInfo and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency are the best resources for information on drone regulations in Finland. Aviamaps is a real-time aviation map platform that includes flight planning tools.

Drones & Cold

the Finnish sun in winter, captured from drone
Photo by: Jani Kärppä

Operating temperatures for drones vary, depending on make and model, but when filming at subzero temperatures, here are a few things to keep in mind from aerial DOPs Ilmari Mannermaa, Joonas Mattila and Niko Juntunen and drone pilot Markku Rytinki from Flatlight Creative House.

— In winter, the cold is your biggest enemy. It freezes your fingers and propellers. Always keep your gloves on and avoid flying in moist air. Believe it or not, your mind will also function slower, making decisions more difficult. This happens to people who don’t have experience in a cold environment, and they’ll use a lot of energy to keep warm.

— Up north, everything is covered in snow. That’s what you’re looking for, but have you thought about how to move to your dream location? It usually requires local knowledge and transportation tools like snowmobiles and snowshoes to get your drone equipment to the location in one piece.

Drones are mechanical beings, and at low temperatures, propellers can freeze, servos might lock up, or sensors can frost over or give false readings. This is especially true on foggy or snowy days. (Fog and snow also limit your visibility, so watch where you’re flying.)

Finally, battery performance can drop in cold weather, so it’s a good idea to carry along lots of extra batteries, keep an eye on the battery indicator, and be skeptical. Estimated flying time and battery life can off by 10% or more in subzero temperatures.

Drone lifting off against Finnish sunrise
Photo by: Flatlight Creative House
Flying a drone in winter
Photo by: Flatlight Creative House
Canoeing in Finnish Lapland, filmed by drone
Photo by: Juha Kauppinen | Lapland Material Bank
Drone filming a running wolf, during production of A Reindeer's Journey in Lapland
Photo by: MRP Matila Röhr Productions, Courtesy of A Reindeer's Journey
Farm by a Finnish river, filmed by drone
Photo by: Jani Kärppä
Keminmaa center and highway, filimed by drone
Photo by: Lapland Material Bank