Drone Laws in Canada

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Canada

Transport Canada Civil Aviation regulates all transportation in Canada

Canada Government Website related to Drones and Drone Safety

Updated July 13, 2022


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Canada

The Canadian agency responsible for drone safety, TCAA, has provided a number of internet-accessible details on flying for fun or for work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.

Are drones allowed in Canada?

According to TCAA, drone use is allowed in Canada, subject to TCAA regulations. Read on for more details.

Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Canada:

New Canada Drone Laws!

On January 9, 2019, Canada published new rules for flying drones. These rules are now in effect.

Overview of the new rules

The new rules apply to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or “drones,” that: 

  • weigh 250 grams (g) up to and including 25 kilograms (kg), and 
  • are operated within the drone pilot’s visual-line-of-sight

The rules introduce two categories of drones operations: basic and advanced. The categories are based on distance from bystanders and on airspace rules. Each of these are detailed further below.

Micro drones (under 250 grams) and drones that weigh more than 25 kilograms

Micro-drones are drones weighing less than 250 g. The weight of the remote control is not factored in to the weight calculation, but the weight of anything attached or carried, such as optional cameras or safety cages, will be considered part of the weight.

Pilots of micro-drone don’t need to register their drones or get a drone pilot certificate to fly them. Pilots of micro-drones are not bound by the same requirements as other drones. However, you must not operate your drone in a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of anyone.

While there are no prescriptive elements of the regulations, there is an expectation that the pilot of a micro drone to use good judgment, identify potential hazards, and take all necessary steps to avoid any risks associated with flying your drone.

As a good practice, you should always:

  • maintain the drone in direct line of sight
  • do not fly your drone above 400 feet in the air
  • keep a safe distance between your drone and any bystanders
  • stay far away from aerodromes, airport, heliport and waterdrome
  • avoid flying near critical infrastructures
  • stay clear of aircrafts, at all time
  • do a pre-flight inspection of your drone
  • keep the drone close enough to maintain the connection with the remote controller
  • avoid advertised events

Follow these guidelines to avoid flying in a negligent or reckless manner and being subject to fines. Enjoy a safe flight and minimize the risk of incidents. Remember: if you feel that your flight is risky, don’t do it.

Micro-drones are considered aircraft under the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations and are therefore prohibited to enter the following zones without the proper authorization:

  • Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace
  • Zones where a NOTAM for Forest Fire Aircraft Operating Restrictions has been emitted
  • Zones where a 5.1 of the Aeronautics Act restrict the use of airspace to all aircraft has been emitted

If your drone weighs over 25 kilograms or you want to fly outside the rules, you will need to get special permission from Transport Canada before you fly.

Penalties

The new rules are enforced by Transport Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). There are serious penalties, for those who break the rules. Individuals and corporations can face fines or jail time for:

  • putting aircraft and people at risk
  • flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • flying unmarked or unregistered drones

Pilot certificates, knowledge tests, and flight reviews

All pilots of drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must get a drone pilot certificate.

Pilots conducting basic operations need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations.

Pilots conducting advanced operations need a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations. To get this certificate, they must pass the Small Advanced Exam and an in-person flight review. The flight review will assess a pilot’s ability to operate their drone safely.

Registration

All drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must be registered with Transport Canada. Pilots must mark their drones with their registration number before they fly.

RPAS Safety Assurance

The RPAS Safety Assurance tells users the safety limits of the drone they are using. Pilots must operate their drone within the limits outlined in the RPAS Safety Assurance that its manufacturer declared to Transport Canada. An RPAS Safety Assurance is needed to conduct advanced operations.

Public liability insurance

Transport Canada recommends buying public liability insurance for your drone. However, it is not required. Note that most standard home insurance policies do not cover the use of drones.

Privacy guidelines for drone operators

Recreational drone operators 

Before you fly your drone, understand the rules you must follow.

Keep in mind the following privacy guidelines when operating recreational drones:

Be responsible 

You’re in charge of any personal information your drone collects. Personal information includes a person’s name, a photo of their face, or their license plate.

Limit the data you collect 

Don’t collect the personal information you don’t need. Make sure any personal information you capture without consent can’t be identified. For example, blur faces or license plates.

Get permission 

If you’ll likely capture personal information on your flight, do your best to inform the people you film and get their permission.

Store information securely 

If you save recordings that contain personal information, take steps so only you can access the information.

Be open about what you’re doing 

If someone complains that your drone use is affecting their privacy, make sure to respond with respect and courtesy.

Violating some parts of a person’s privacy could result in criminal charges relating to:

  • voyeurism
  • mischief
  • creating a nuisance
  • violations of provincial or municipal laws

Commercial drone operators

Businesses in Canada must follow the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) when using drones.

Under PIPEDA, you must get consent to collect, use and share personal information with others. In order for consent to be valid, people must understand what they are agreeing to.

Your business must handle people’s personal information professionally and with respect. This includes explaining why you need to collect personal information and giving people access to their personal information.

You’re responsible for protecting and handling personal information throughout your business.

Who doesn’t need to follow PIPEDA? 

PIPEDA doesn’t apply if your organization operates only within Alberta, British Columbia, or Quebec; however, other provincial privacy laws still apply. PIPEDA also doesn’t apply if you’re collecting, using, or sharing personal information for:

  • journalism
  • art
  • books
  • academic research
  • not-for-profit organizations or charities

Foreign operators

If you are a foreign operator (that is, you are not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a corporation incorporated by or under federal or provincial and you want to fly in Canadian airspace), you must have an approved Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) to fly a drone for any purpose (recreational, work or research).

You must already be allowed to use the drone for the same purpose in your home country. Include your country’s approval or authorization with your application for the SFOC.

As a foreign drone pilot, you need a Canadian drone pilot certificate to operate in Canada even if you are authorized in your home country.

For basic operations, you will need to pass the online exam to receive your Pilot Certificate – Basic operations. For advanced operations, you will need to:

  • pass the online exam for advanced operations
  • complete a flight review and apply for your Pilot Certificate – Advanced operations, or provide proof of having booked a flight review with a drone flight school once you’ve arrived in Canada

You must already be allowed to use the drone for the same purpose in your home country. Include your country’s approval or authorization with your application for the SFOC.

How to apply

To apply for this certificate:

  1. Access the Drone Management Portal to pass an exam and obtain a drone pilot certificate for the type of operation you wish to perform if you do not already have one.
  2. Complete an Application for a Special Flight Operations Certificate form (PDF, 1.2 MB) and gather the documentation specified in the application
  3. Send the form and documents to:
    Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Centre of Expertise
    700, Leigh-Capreol Place Dorval, Quebec H4Y 1G7
    Email: TC.RPASCentre-CentreSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca

After you apply

It may take up to 30 business days to review and issue an SFOC. Actual processing times can vary depending on the complexity and completeness of the request.

Are drones allowed in Canada National Parks?

Recreational use of drones at all Parks Canada places is prohibited.

Drone flying is a popular hobby for many people and may also be used for commercial purposes. However, Drones can pose risks to visitors, disturb wildlife and lead to negative experiences for other visitors to Banff National Park. For these reasons, Parks Canada strictly limits the use of drones.

Anyone caught operating a drone within park boundaries and without an approved permit may result in law enforcement action and a fine of up to $25,000.

Recreational drone use in Canada National parks – Prohibited

Recreational drone flying is prohibited across all Parks Canada locations. Please do not fly your drone in the park.

Commercial drone use in Canada national Parks – By permit only

The Superintendent may only issue a Restricted Activity Permit for the use of a drone for the following purposes:

  • Natural or cultural resource management and protection
  • Public safety
  • Law enforcement
  • Park/site management purposes directly relating to park administrative purposes

If you would like to apply for a Restricted Activity Permit for the use of a drone, you must submit a written proposal to banff.superintendent@pc.gc.ca. In your proposal you must clearly demonstrate how your intended use of a drone supports any of the above purposes. If your project involves commercial filming, please refer to the commercial film and photography guidelines for the mountain national parks for more information.


Notes For “Basic” Drone flying for fun in Canada

Canada Drone Laws do not make a clear distinction between hobbyists or recreational use and commercial use. Instead, they have crafted their rules around “Basic” and “Advanced” operations.

We will clarify the rules for basic drone operations here, and the advanced operations below.

The following rules apply to all drone operations:

  • All drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must be registered with Transport Canada. Pilots must mark their drones with their registration number before they fly.
  • All pilots of drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must get a drone pilot certificate.
  • Fly your drone where you can see it at all times
  • Fly below 122 meters (400 feet) in the air
  • Fly away from bystanders, at a minimum distance of 30 meters for basic operations
  • Do not fly at the site of emergency operations or advertised events
  • Avoid forest fires, outdoor concerts, and parades
  • Do not fly within 5.6 kilometers (3 nautical miles) from airports or 1.9 kilometers (1 nautical mile) from heliports
  • Fly far away from other aircraft
  • Do not fly anywhere near airplanes, helicopters, and other drones
  • Always respect the privacy of others while flying

Additional rules apply depending on your type of operation. The rules introduce two categories of drones operations: basic and advanced. The categories are based on distance from bystanders and on airspace rules.

Basic operations

If you meet all 5 of these conditions, you’re conducting basic operations:

  • You fly it in uncontrolled airspace
  • You fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders
  • You never fly it over bystanders
  • You fly it more than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome
  • You fly it more than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport

If you do not meet any 1 of these 5 conditions, you are conducting advanced operations.

For example, let’s say you fly your drone more than 30 meters (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders but in controlled airspace. This operation is advanced because you’re flying in controlled airspace even if you’re more than 30 meters (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders.

For basic operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time
  • Mark your drone with its registration number
  • Pass the Small Basic Exam
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations and proof of registration when you fly

Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Canada

The following rules apply to all drone operations:

  • All drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must be registered with Transport Canada. Pilots must mark their drones with their registration number before they fly.
  • All pilots of drones that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg must get a drone pilot certificate.
  • Fly your drone where you can see it at all times
  • Fly below 122 meters (400 feet) in the air
  • Fly away from bystanders, at a minimum distance of 30 meters for basic operations
  • Do not fly at the site of emergency operations or advertised events
  • Avoid forest fires, outdoor concerts, and parades
  • Do not fly within 5.6 kilometers (3 nautical miles) from airports or 1.9 kilometers (1 nautical mile) from heliports
  • Fly far away from other aircraft
  • Do not fly anywhere near airplanes, helicopters, and other drones
  • Always respect the privacy of others while flying

Additional rules apply depending on your type of operation. The rules introduce two categories of drones operations: basic and advanced. The categories are based on distance from bystanders and on airspace rules.

Advanced operations

If you meet any 1 of these conditions, you are conducting advanced operations:

  • You want to fly in controlled airspace
  • You want to fly over bystanders
  • You want to fly within 30 metres (100 feet) of bystanders (measured horizontally)
  • You want to fly less than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome
  • You want to fly less than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport

For advanced operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time
  • Mark your drone with its registration number
  • Have a drone with the appropriate Safety declaration for the intended operation
  • Pass the Small Advanced Exam
  • Pass a flight review with a flight reviewer
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and proof of registration when you fly your drone
  • Seek permission from air traffic control (NAV CANADA or the Department of National Defence) to fly in controlled airspace (request an RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA)
  • Fly within the operational limits of your drone

You can only use drones that meet the safety requirements for the operation you want to conduct. See tips on choosing the right drone before you fly.

If you have a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations, you do not need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations to conduct basic operations.


Useful published information on flying drones in Canada

Here is a useful page published by TCAA that discusses more details on flying drones in Canada

Here is a useful introduction video provided by TCAA…

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site (The latest Drone Laws/Drone Regulations) is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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41 thoughts on “Drone Laws in Canada”

  1. Also sorry , follow up to my question , re what is required to sell footage from a micro drone less than 250g , I’m in Ontario Canada

    Reply
  2. I am a photographer and ,I am considering getting the new DJI mini pro for recreational and some real estate sale stuff.
    I don’t see anywhere about using the drone under 250g commercially to make money.
    what is needed to sell footage from a under 250g drone ?

    Reply
  3. Part 107 in the U.S. states that “The altitude of the small unmanned aircraft cannot be higher than 400 feet above ground level unless the small unmanned aircraft is (1) flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure, and (2) does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.”

    Does this apply at all to Canadian UAV operation?

    Reply
  4. Question: with a micro drone… is it “law” or “suggestion” that a pilot has VLOS at all times.

    When I look at the Transport Canada info it has two sections… What we “must do”, and what we “should do”. VLOS falls under “should do.”

    TIA

    john

    Reply
    • John, the website says:

      While flying
      To keep yourself and others safe, fly your drone:
      where you can see it at all times

      Reply
  5. Legally, the requirement is to keep the drone within line of sight. What about when you look down at your controls to take a photo? Is that still considered within line of sight or would you then need an observer to keep an eye on the drone?

    Reply
    • As long as the drone is within a distance that you can see it you are flying within the regulation, even if you look down to take a photo.

      Reply
  6. It appears drone operators for real estate agencies do what they want and evade privacy laws all the time. I have a situation where the drone operator did not get permission but then strategically took pictures leaving things out of the pictures that would distract from the sales price of a lot. I’ve asked the real estate agent to have the drone operator return and apologize but they are exceptionally rude and just want the sale. Making matters worse they took pictures of my property and wanted to sell it with the single lot that was for sale. The lot is being misrepresented and oversold as a Quiet level 9 when in fact we live in General Basic Zoning with a Quarry, wood splitting, wood mill, cannabis production/processing etc. Do I go the RCMP and have them charged with Tresspassing or Nuisance ? Does the Real Estate Board care about miss-leading agents using drones to sell their property ?

    Reply
    • Paul, this sounds like a misrepresentation of real estate through selective video/photography rather than a violation of drone regulations.

      Reply
  7. How low can someone fly their drone through my property?
    I can only find it should be under 400ft, but I believe a peeping Tom has been flying one below even my roof peaks….

    Reply
  8. Drones are annoying and irresponsible when operated over/near private property. We had a real estate drone flying our neighbourhood. How can we tell if it is someone out for kicks, or voyeurism or a criminal casing our properties. This drone was clearly a long distance from the subject property. We confronted the operator, but next time, how can we possibly find the operator of a drone that comes and goes.
    Conclusion: we need stiff penalties and confiscation not guidelines in order to deter them from invading our privacy, whether thay are recording images or not. I do not want my yard or family on display.

    Reply
    • So how about my phone and my crazy camera they can see clearer and further than my drone. Should we ban those to. I mean anything can be used for bad stuff. Cars make noise and are annoying should we ban them as they drive close to our houses. Your privacy is indooors not outside. The airs are not your property they are controlled by TC.
      They are a lot of things that are annoying but we don’t call for they’re ban.

      Reply
  9. I want to photograph a construction site from overhead with a micro drone (Mavic mini, sub 250 g), commercially for a magazine. But the construction site is close by a Canadian naval base (no airport). Need to know if the same restrictions apply as for a military aerodrome. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Can a person with a drone, take pictures of my property and boat without my permission and keep the pictures

    Reply
    • Steven, there may be privacy laws that prohibit this, check with your local regulators and law enforcement.

      Reply
  11. Can I fly my drone in my back yard it borders several homes in a urban community want to inspect my roof but only on my property

    Reply
  12. Can I use a micro drone in Banff National Park?
    Do I need permission to use it? or can’t all kinds of drones be used in national parks?

    Reply
  13. Is there prescriptive text requiring written/verbal landowner permission to takeoff and landing a drone on public or private property? Understanding private trespass law and municipal drone bylaw don’t make it a simple yes or no in some cases. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • You are correct that it could vary significantly by locality. We have added the standard privacy guidelines Transport Canada provides above.

      Reply
  14. You’re basic & advanced operations as mentioned in the above article are not 100% correct. In both instances you fail to make mention that operating closer than 1NM from cert heliports and 3NM from cert airports are an advanced operation. This needs to be mentioned for both basic and advanced operations.

    Reply
  15. Do Canadian corporations require RPAS liability insurance? This was a former requirement but seems to be rescinded. According to updated TC text, employee’s flying a microdrone for work theoretically don’t even need to register or be licensed either?

    Reply
  16. I want to fly a drone recreationally in Canada, what’s the situation like? Does my drone license/certificate need to be from Canada or can it be from another country?

    Reply

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