Flying your drone safely and legally

From Transport Canada

This page gives you specific guidelines for how to fly a drone (also called a model aircraft, unmanned air vehicle, or UAV) safely. It also helps you understand laws that apply to drone operations.

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“Do’s and don’ts” for flying your drone

If you fly your drone for fun and it weighs 35 kg or less, always follow the basic “Do’s and don’ts” for flying your drone safely and legally. Not doing so may put lives, aircraft, and property at risk.

Do:

  • Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather.
  • Keep your drone where you can see it with your own eyes – not through an on-board camera, monitor, or smartphone.
  • Make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example: Are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
  • Respect the privacy of others. Avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Don't:

  • Don't fly in clouds or fog.
  • Don't fly closer than nine km (five nm) from any aerodrome (i.e., any airport, heliport, helipad, or seaplane base).
  • Don't fly higher than 90 m (300 feet) above the ground.
  • Don't fly closer than 150 m (500 feet) from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles.
  • Don't fly in populated areas or near large groups of people, including at sporting events, concerts, festivals, or firework shows.
  • Don't fly near moving vehicles, highways, bridges, busy streets, or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.
  • Don't fly within restricted and controlled airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons, or forest fires.
  • Don't fly anywhere you may interfere with first responders.

If you fly your drone for fun (legally known as a model aircraft) and it weighs 35 kg or less, following the “Do’s and don’ts” will make sure you operate within the law. You do not need special permission from Transport Canada to fly.

Tips for model aircraft safety

If you fly your drone for work or research (legally known as a UAV), or if it weighs more than 35 kg, you must get a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). The SFOC tells you how and where you are allowed to use your UAV.

For more information on the SFOC, read Getting permission to fly your drone.

Does Transport Canada approve schools that can teach me to fly my UAV safely?

We do not approve UAV training organizations or recognize certificates for UAV operations.

All UAV pilots are responsible to ensure they have the right level of knowledge, experience, and skill. You may access UAV pilot training from sources including:

  • UAV operators and manufacturers
  • manned aviation flight training organizations
  • third parties

When flying a UAV in Canada, you must:

  • follow the rules in the Canadian Aviation Regulations:
  • respect the Criminal Code, your provincial Trespass Act, as well as all applicable municipal, provincial, and territorial laws

Transport Canada inspectors investigate reports of unsafe and illegal UAV use. We may involve local police if other laws (e.g., the Criminal Code and privacy laws) were broken.

You could face serious consequences – including up to $25,000 in fines and/or jail time – if you:

  • put aircraft at risk
  • fly where you are not allowed
  • endanger anyone’s safety

For example:

  • If you do not respect even one safety requirement of your exemption, you will no longer qualify to fly under the exemption and must apply for an SFOC. You must meet all safety requirements of the exemption to continue flying without an SFOC.
  • If you fly a UAV without an SFOC and should have one, we can fine up to $5,000 for a person and $25,000 for a corporation.
  • If you do not follow the requirements of your SFOC, we can fine up to $3,000 for a person and $15,000 for a corporation.

New regulations

Transport Canada is developing new regulations to address the safety requirements, growing popularity, and economic importance of UAVs. Proposed changes include:

  • new flight rules
  • aircraft marking and registration requirements
  • knowledge testing
  • minimum age limits
  • pilot permits for certain UAV operations

We published a Notice of Proposed Amendment in May 2015 to highlight these changes. Canadians will be able to comment on the proposed amendments when they are published in Canada Gazette, Part 1.

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