The government on 9th February, 2022 through a notification from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (“Ministry”), has banned the import of drones with immediate effect, except for research and development, defence and security purposes.
This move was taken in order to further the “Make-in-India” movement in alignment with the Union Budget 2022, as per a statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The Ministry notified the Indian Trade Classification (Harmonised System), 2022 effecting the prohibition of drones for import.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation said that while exceptions were provided for R&D, defence and security, importing drones for these purposes will require “due clearances”. However, it has been clarified that import of drone components will not require any approvals.
While the exception for import of drones is currently limited to research and development, defence and security purposes, there is clarification required as to what class of entities may import drones for defence and security purposes.
This notification is also introduced to complement the drone rules that were notified in 2021, which aimed at creating India as a drone hub. A Production Linked Incentive (“PLI”) scheme for drones and their components was approved by the Government which also allocated INR 120 crore for 3 financial years.