Canadian Drone Regulations and Laws

Last year, Transport Canada posted official regulations and information regarding the use of drones and quadcopters within Canada. I will try to explain what they have posted in an easy-to-understand, simplified form.

You see, there are two different categories for drones, and quadcopters such. They are drones used for recreation, and drones used for work or research. The legal names of these are model aircraft and UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicles), respectively.

Recreational Drones

dji phantom

Kinds of drones such as recreational drones are the least regulated and do not require special certificates to fly, providing they:
  • Weight less than 35kg and,
  • are used strictly for recreational use.
These drones, Transport Canada refers to legally are called model aircraft and follow the appropriate criteria above.

Transport Canada has also posted a list of "Do's and Don'ts" when flying your model aircraft within Canadian borders. Here is the list:

Do's and Don'ts List
Click to expand

It is a pretty straightforward list which can be officially found here. Some key takeaways though, are:

  • Never fly inside of clouds or during fog.
  • You must stay 9km from aerodromes.
  • Maximum altitude to fly is 90m (300ft) above ground.
  • Your drone has to stay 150m (500ft) from any structures or people.
Always anticipate where your drone would crash land if it were to lose power exactly where it is in sky.

Use this, with some common sense and you'll be sure TC won't be coming to knock on your door if something happens.

Drones for Work or Research

Inspire Drone

Drones used for work and research are legally known as UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicles) and incur more severe regulations than recreational model aircraft. A model aircraft becomes a UAV when they weigh more than 35kg.

To operate these aircrafts, you must acquire what is called a SFOC (Special Flight Operations Certificate) which cannot be provided by an external school or program, they are only provided by Transport Canada. Here is a link to getting your SFOC.

What you have to do when flying a UAV in Canada:

  • Follow the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs)
    • section 602.41 UAVs
    • section 602.45 Model Aircraft
  • Respect your local and provincial laws, as well as the Criminal Code of Canada and your provincial Trespass Act.
Can you fly your UAV without an SFOC? Sure, if you're willing to pay a $5000 fine.

It is possible to get up to a $25,000 fine and/or jail time if you put aircraft at risk when flying, fly where you are not allowed, or endanger anyone's safety.

That's it! Just use common sense when piloting a drone, and be sure to follow all applicable regulations when flying in Canada and you should be fine.


Sources from blog & full information:

If you happen to find any incorrect information in this informative blog post, please leave a comment. If you feel anything else should be added, please let me know as well.

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