100ft(30m) from people
Don't interfere with aircraft
Don't fly over crowds
400ft(122m) max height
All Drone Laws in Canada for 2020 (Complete Guide)
This is a complete guide on the drone rules rules in Canada for 2020 (updated every year) where you'll get a clue about what you can or shouldn't do while flying a quadcopter anywhere in this country.
Table of Contents
Can I fly a drone in Canada?
Yes. But like any other country, regulations for drones, or what they technically call Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), in Canada are differentiated according to the purpose of usage (recreational or commercial) and weight.
Who can fly a drone in Canada?
The youngest individual to fly a drone under basic operations is 14 years old. For advanced operations, the youngest is 16 years old. Later on, I’ll discuss to you the difference between basic and advanced operations.
Children younger than 14 years old may still operate provided they are supervised by someone with a license. Other supervisions can come in the form of clubs, camps, and youth groups.
Who to contact?
Canada also has its own governing agency, the Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), that oversees the drone regulations in the country.
For more in-depth information, you may visit contact them through:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the Drone Laws in Canada?
As mentioned above, drone laws in Canada are determined depending on their purpose and weight. Like in other countries, it isn’t that strict yet when it comes to recreational use. As for the commercial purpose, the only difference is securing an authorization permit. For more details, kindly check the guidelines from TCCA below:
Recreational drone rules
For drones weighing between 250 g to 25 kg, you have to
For drones weighing above 25 kg, all of the above guidelines still must be followed.
However, you should get a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC), an authorization that allows you to operate drones in circumstances that go beyond the guidelines specified above. For more information about SFOC, click here.
You should also be wary of the consequences of not following the guidelines. Not doing so will subject you to sanctions, such as fines. Depending on the gravity of your offense, judges will evaluate your sanction whether you intentionally committed your violation or if there is an undeclared commercial work involved.
Fines vary depending on the weight of the drone:
- $3,000 for drones less than 24 kg
- $15,000 for drones over 25 kg
Commercial drone rules
Effective June 1, 2019, the rules applied for recreational purposes are the exact ones applied for commercial operators, as mandated by TCTA. However, drones weighing above 25 kg are required to obtain an SFOC. To get this, the operator must follow these guidelines:
- attend a mandatory training from an approved drone flight school
- complete an SFOC application form
- send the accomplished form to the Civil Aviation regional office
- follow all the drone recreational code of conduct guidelines (those listed above)
- follow the rules specified in the Canadian Aviation Regulations
follow the Criminal Code, the Trespass act, and other municipal, provincial, and territorial laws that apply; you may check those here
How can I register my drone
Drones weighing between 250 g to 25 kg must be registered with TCCA. The registration fee is CA$ 5. Drones under 250 g need not be registered, as long as operators will follow the guidelines for flying. As mentioned previously, those above 25 kg require an SFOC in order to fly. To apply for an SFOC, check this link.
It only takes 3 min to register a drone. All you need is to provide the following information:
- purhcase date
- serial number
- type of drone
- details of your card for payment (this is because this transaction is done online)
You will also be asked to choose one of the following secure sign-in options to access the Drone Management Portal:
- Government of Canada login (GCKey)
- online banking login (sign-in partner)
Check this link for more info.
Why should I register?
You should register your drone because authorities can help you if ever you come across some troubles, such as losing it. Through the contact number and model details you have given, the TCCA can call the manufacturer of your RPAS and may be able to trace your drone’s whereabouts.
Basic and Advanced Operations
When flying drones in Canada, another classification you have to take note is whether you’re performing basic or advanced operations. Unlike in most countries where they only issue is toeing the line between recreational and commercial purposes, in Canada they also base their regulations on how adept you are in controlling drones.
As per the TCCA guidelines, here are the differences between basic and advanced operations.
If you qualify under all these circumstances, you will fall under basic operations:
- flying in uncontrolled airspace
- flying more than 30 m (100 ft) horizontally from people
- never fly over people (or bystanders, for a more technical term)
If even a single 1 from these 3 qualifications are not met, then you are considered to be conducting advanced operations.
There are also certain rules you must follow if you want to perform basic operations.
- register your drone under TCCA
- mark your drone with a registration number
- pass the small basic exam (you can take it online)
- show your Pilot Certificate for Basic Operations proof of registration upon flying
If you qualify under all these circumstances, then you are conducting advanced operations:
- you want to fly in controlled airspace
- you want to fly over people
- you want to fly within 30 m (100 ft) horizontally of people
Similarly, there are certain rules you must follow to in order to perform advanced operations:
- register your drone with TCCA
- mark your drone with registration number
- pass the small advanced exam (see previous link attached above)
- pass the flight review offered in drone flight schools
- show your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations proof of registration upon flying
- request an RPAS Flight Authorization from air traffic control agencies like NAV CANADA in order to fly in controlled airspace (to know more about Canadian airspace class, check this)
- fly only within the operational limits of your drone
RPAS Safety Assurance
Choosing which drone to use in Canada, however, is not as easy as choosing whatever drone you like. Through the RPAS Safety Assurance, the TCCA has published a list of recommended drone models that have met their safety requirements for advanced operations.
Drone owners doing basic operations don’t need to secure and RPAS Safety Assurance, since it poses less risk to people and aircraft.
To those doing advanced operations, however, are highly required to follow the RPAS Safety Assurance, as it poses higher risk since they could be flying drones near and people and in controlled airspace.
These are TCCA’s RPAS Safety Assurance requirements for advanced operations
What if not all requirements are met?
If any of the abovementioned requirements is not met, the drone could only perform basic operations for that particular condition. But if the drone has successfully passed other requirements, it could still perform advanced operations for that matter.
For example, a drone met all the requirements but the “controlled airspace” standard, then it could perform advanced operations for “near people” and “over people” except for the “controlled airspace” where it could only perform basic operations.
For list of the manufacturers and models enlisted in TCCA’s RPAS Safety Assurance, you may check this link.
What if I have modified my drone?
You are compelled to submit a drone safety assurance declaration to the TCCA. Not doing so could lead to paying fines–CA$ 1,000-3,000 for individually-owned drones and CA$ 5,000-15,000 for corporation-owned drones. To submit a declaration, you may check this link.
What if my drone isn’t listed?
For that matter, your manufacturer is either yet to submit a declaration or the declaration is yet to be reviewed. Otherwise, you’ll be issued a new certificate once the declaration is submitted. You may also ask your manufacturer if a declaration has been made.
How about drones that weigh <250 g and >25 kg?
Drones that weigh below 250 g and more than 25 kg neither fall into basic nor advanced operations. If you have a micro drone (below 250 g), you just have to make sure you won’t put other people or aircraft in danger. If your drone weighs more than 25 kg, you have to secure an SFOC from the TCCA.
Do I need to enroll in a drone school?
It is not entirely compulsory, but it is highly recommended as it could prepare you for online exams and flight reviews.
Since you need to pass an in-person flight review in order to receive your Pilot Certificate for Advanced Operations, it is advisable that you book a flight review first with a drone school so you’ll come prepared in the online exam.
The lessons taught in drone schools could also equip you with knowledge in case you want to apply for an SFOC. For list of accredited drone schools, you may check this link.
Restricted Areas and Geofencing (drone flying map)
For a detailed interactive map of the restricted zones in Canada, you may check this online version.
Meanwhile, here are the “no-drone zones” in Canada:
- near power sources, military, and religious sites
- national parks and reserves (not all)
- around airports and aerodromes
- over border crossings
If you insist on flying on these areas, you may, however, ask for permission from the TCCA. You may visit their site through this link.
The best way to figure out what areas you can fly in, is by consulting DJI offilicial map.
They do a great job mapping the places that one should avoid while flying in every country:
What are my top drones to fly safely in Canada?
None. As what have been mentioned above, since June 1, 2019, an amendment has been passed stating that no drone shall be allowed to fly in Canada without being registered.
For foreign operators, if you want to fly a drone whether for recreational, research, or work purposes, you must secure an SFOC. You must also have an existing authorization in your own country to fly a drone. For applications for an SFOC, you may go to this site.
As a foreigner, you should adhere to the following requirements:
- have adequate knowledge of the Canadian Aviation Regulations
- proof of ability that you have completed the TP 15263 training
- a signed and duly completed Form 26-0835 E-Application for SFOC
- other documents required by the TCCA such as drone’s manual, maintenance instructions, emergency plan, safety measures
- (for advanced operations only) an appointment for an in-person flight review where you could showcase your skills at an authorized flight school
Can I travel with my drone in Canada by plane?
Yes! If you’re a foreigner or a citizen flying back to Canada, it’s not really an issue if you bring your drone as there aren’t any restrictions yet for that matter. However, you should note that there is a one-drone-per-person policy.
For added precaution, you could also prepare detaching your drone’s batteries and place them in a separate firecase, as some airlines impose a battery voltage limit. For more information about the guidelines from Transportation Security Administration, you can visit this site.