Flying your drone safely and legally

From Transport Canada

This page provides specific rules and guidelines on how to fly a recreational drone (also called a model aircraft) safely and legally. It also helps you understand laws that apply to all recreational and non-recreational drone operations.

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Rules for recreational drones

If you fly your drone for fun and it weighs more than 250 g and up to 35 kg, you do not need special permission from Transport Canada to fly.

Follow the basic safety rules below. Not doing so may put lives, aircraft and property at risk. If you fly where you are not allowed or choose not to follow any of the rules below, you could face fines of up to $3,000.

Do not fly your drone:

  • higher than 90 m above the ground
  • closer than 75 m from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds
  • closer than nine km from the centre of an aerodrome (any airport, heliport, seaplane base or anywhere that aircraft take-off and land)
  • within controlled or restricted airspace
  • within nine km of a forest fire
  • where it could interfere with police or first responders
  • at night or in clouds
  • if you can’t keep it in sight at all times
  • if you are not within 500 m of your drone
  • if your name, address, and telephone number are not clearly marked on your drone.

The list above is an overview of the new rules for recreational drone users. Consult the Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft for the full list of provisions. Members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) who operate at MAAC sanctioned fields or events are not subject to these rules.

Tips for recreational drone users:

  • 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.

Non-recreational drone: If you fly your drone (or UAV) for work or research, 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 skills required to safely operate. You may access UAV pilot training from sources including:

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

When flying a UAV (non-recreational drone) 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 that apply

When flying a model aircraft (recreational drone) in Canada you must:

Transport Canada inspectors investigate reports of unsafe and illegal drone use. We may involve local police if other laws (e.g., the Criminal Code and privacy laws) have been 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 fly where your drone recreationally where you are not allowed or choose not to follow any of the rules outlined in the Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft you could face fines of up to $3,000.
  • If you fly a UAV without an SFOC and should have one, we may 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 may 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 pilots  

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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