Algeria recently adopted rules for drones. Presidential Decree 21-285 of July 13, 2021 established the general framework governing unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) and became effective as of its publication on July 18, 2021 (“New Decree”). However, Executive Decree No. 09-410 of December 10, 2009 on the safety rules applicable to activities on sensitive equipment will remain in force until the publication of the implementing texts of the New Decree. UAS owners have 12 months to declare existing equipment.

The New Decree governs the manufacture, acquisition, import, export, sale, transfer, possession, reform, and use of all unmanned aircraft systems except those used for national defense purposes.

UAS used for recreational or competition purposes must have a mass less than or equal to 2 kilograms (Category 1) and must be equipped with a geo-monitoring system and an electronic identification system.

UAS may be used for commercial or other purposes, namely, (i) aerial photography for the purposes of geographical information, television, film, and all other forms of data collection, observation, evaluation, inspection, and aerial surveillance and (ii) all other forms of professional or specific activities, including scientific and service activities. The mass of such UAS, which must be equipped with a geo-monitoring system, an electronic identification system and light signaling, may vary between 2 and 150 kilograms.

Professional or specific activities relating to aerial photographic coverage and all other forms of data collection relating to the physical environment of the national territory and its territorial waters, carried out by or with foreign bodies by a UAS, are controlled by the Army.

Autonomous drone flights are permitted. However, prior authorization is required for the use of unmanned aircraft for professional and specific use. There are exceptions when UAS belong to the State, are placed at its disposal or chartered by it, and when they are used within the framework of intervention operations by the security services, rescue and salvage missions, and missions to fight forest fires. The authorization is delivered by the National Center for Unmanned Aircraft created by the New Decree and whose members have yet to be installed. A special authorization is required for international flights.

Drones may be operated beyond visual line of sight (“BVLOS”) for professional or specific use unless the flight constitutes a danger to air safety. The maximum height is 120 meters except derogation. BVLOS flights are prohibited for UAS used for leisure or competition.

The New Decree also provides for UAS overflight bans and exemptions.