Flying an unmanned aircraft recreationally
Update on UAV regulations
Transport Canada is developing new regulations to address the growing popularity of UAVs
Unmanned air vehicles, model aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems, drones
Think safety first
More and more people are using unmanned aircraft for work or pleasure. Transport Canada regulates their use to keep the public and our airspace safe.
Aircraft without a pilot on board go by many names—unmanned air vehicle (UAV), remotely piloted aircraft system, model aircraft, remote control aircraft, and drone.
Call it what you want, but always think safety first.
If your aircraft weighs less than 35 kg and is used for recreational purposes, you don’t need permission to fly, but please read and follow our safety guidelines.
You are responsible to fly your aircraft safely and legally. In Canada, you must:
Follow the rules set out in the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
Respect the Criminal Code as well as all municipal, provincial, and territorial laws related to trespassing and privacy
Transport Canada expects you to follow these basic Do’s and Don’ts.
Fly your aircraft during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
Keep your aircraft in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.
Make sure your aircraft is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
Know if you need permission to fly and when to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate
Closer than 9 km from any airport, heliport, or aerodrome.
Higher than 90 metres from above the ground.
Closer than 150 metres from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles.
In populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows.
Near moving vehicles, avoid highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.
Within restricted airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons, and forest fires.
Anywhere you may interfere with first responders
Frequently Asked Questions
What laws apply to unmanned aircraft?
In aviation, you must always think safety first. In addition to respecting the Canadian Aviation Regulations, you must follow the rules in all acts and regulations—including the Criminal Code as well as all municipal, provincial, and territorial laws regarding issues such as trespassing and privacy.
If you think someone has committed a criminal offense, please contact your local police department.
If you are concerned about the safe operation of an aircraft, you can report it to Transport Canada at email@example.com.
How does Transport Canada enforce the regulations?
Transport Canada regulates the use of all aircraft, manned and unmanned, to keep the public and our airspace safe.
If an incident is reported to the department, one of our inspectors will verify that the operator followed the rules and used the aircraft safely. Local police may also verify if other laws were broken, including the Criminal Code and privacy laws. If an operator is flying an aircraft for recreational purposes, it’s illegal to do anything that puts aviation safety at risk. The courts would decide on the penalty.
Does Transport Canada plan to review the current regulations for UAVs?
Yes. Transport Canada is exploring changes to the regulations that will address the growing popularity and economic importance of UAVs and integrate them safely into Canadian airspace. The department published a Notice of Proposed Amendment that highlights several proposed changes, including new flight rules, aircraft marking and registration requirements, knowledge testing, minimum age limits, and pilot permits for certain UAV operators.
Transport Canada will hold stakeholder consultations to ensure the new regulations are effective, balanced, and fair. Feedback received during the consultation process will help inform the regulatory changes. The Canadian public will also have the opportunity to provide comments when the proposed amendments are published in Canada Gazette, Part I.
Why are there so many different terms for unmanned aircraft?
You may know them as “drones”, but the aviation community uses many different terms. The words to describe unmanned aircraft are changing almost as quickly as the technology itself.
In Canada, our laws use two terms:
- Model aircraft, which describes those usually used by hobbyists for recreational purposes.
- Unmanned air vehicle, or UAV, which generally refers to more complex operations used for commercial purposes.
Other countries use the term “remotely piloted aircraft system”, or RPAS. The International Civil Aviation Organization uses this term as a catch-all for all unmanned aircraft.
Call your aircraft what you like—but Transport Canada expects you to operate it safely and legally.
Can I fly my UAV outside of Canada?
Rules for UAVs vary from one country to another. Always check the local aviation regulations before you fly your UAV.
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