Latest Drone Laws In Canada

When I want to take my drone for a leisurely spin, across the border is where I go! I find the open landscape of Canada a boon when testing my piloting skills or for capturing breathtaking landscapes.

Similar to the USA and China, Canada too has laws governing the flying of UAVs. These laws are applicable whether you are a tourist or a citizen.

It is crucial to have an understanding of these regulations so you can have a pleasant flying experience.

The drone laws Canada are quite strict, but don’t worry I’ve encapsulated all information for easy understanding. Give it a read to fly responsibly!

Overview of Drone Regulation

The Canada drone regulations are governed by Canadian Aviation Regulations (the CARs) which are implemented by Transport Canada Civil Aviation.

The legal requirements for flying drones in Canada are:

  1. A valid drone pilot certificate as well as drone registration is mandatory to fly drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms.

  2. For drones weighing less than 250 grams neither drone registration nor pilot certificate is required.  

  3. Only a drone pilot certificate printed or electronically issued by Transport Canada is considered valid.

Besides these, the official website states that drone flyers must respect other relevant laws including:

  • Relevant sections of the Criminal Code, including Offenses against Air or Maritime Safety, Breaking and Entering, and Mischief

  • Your province’s trespass act

  • Laws related to voyeurism and privacy

Even if you are flying micro drones, you must avoid flying in a reckless manner and take steps to mitigate any potential risks associated with drone flying.

Latest drone legislation Canada

In July 2023, the Canadian Minister of Transport proposed a new set of laws to govern Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) drones in the country.

These will include rules for lower-risk operations of drones, a new class of pilot certification for lower-risk BVLOS operations, and removing the requirement for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for certain lower-risk BVLOS and medium-sized drone operations.

The proposed drone law updates Canada if accepted will come into effect by fall 2024.

Drone registration process Canada

If you are flying a drone weighing more than 250 grams then registration is mandatory.

The rule applies even if the increase in weight is due to an attachment such as a mobile phone.

Both custom-built and ready-to-fly drones must adhere to the Drone registration Canada process.

To register the drone, you have to sign into the Drone Management Portal.

Besides registration, you can manage all drone-related activities like transfer of ownership, taking online exams, applying for drone pilot certificates, etc., from here.

Before you log in, ensure you have the following handy:

–   Purchase date (if applicable)

–   Make, model, serial number, weight, and type of drone

–   Credit Card

The drone registration fees in Canada is only $5 and it takes about 3-4 minutes to complete the online registration process.

Once you receive the registration number, it must be clearly marked on your drone.

It is important to note here that foreign pilots cannot register their drones in Canada.

I’ll explain how you can fly your drone as a foreign pilot in Canada in subsequent sections. 

Drone Pilot Certificate

There are two types of operations categorized by Transport Canada- basic operations and advanced operations. Based on the category you are flying; you will need a different license.

Basic Operations

As listed on Transport Canada’s official website, 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 meters (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 meet all the above criteria and are above 14 years of age then you need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations.

For this, you have to clear an online exam called the Small Basic Exam.

Once cleared, the pilot certificate can be downloaded from the Drone Management Portal.

Advanced Operations

As listed on Transport Canada’s official website, 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 meters (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

Obtaining an Advanced Pilot’s License is slightly tougher. You will need to pass the online test (Small Advanced Test) and thereafter clear a flight review conducted by a flight reviewer.

The fee for this type of license is $25 and the minimum age for applying is 16 years.

Note that you will still require permission from air traffic control (NAV CANADA or the Department of National Defence) when flying in controlled airspace or No-fly zones Canada.

Rules for Foreign Pilots

If you are visiting Canada like me, special permissions are needed to fly your drone.

Once you identify your drone operation (basic/advanced), you will need to pass the requisite tests as mentioned above.

Once the tests are cleared there is an additional step for non-Canadian citizens. You need to possess a valid Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). The SFOC-RPAS is valid for one year.

Rules for Micro Drones

Drones weighing less than 250 grams are exempt from legal regulations. However, the pilots are expected to follow basic flying rules and not endanger persons or property.

Following good practices like avoiding emergency or disaster sites, adhering to the local rules, avoiding trespassing, and respecting people’s privacy is a must.

It is also recommended to keep the drone below 122 meters and within line-of-sight for safe operations.

Restricted Areas and No-Fly Zones

Certain sensitive or crowded areas have been marked as no-fly zones to keep the airspace safe.

You can spot these on the interactive map issued by the National Research Council.

Drone flights are restricted in the following areas as specified on the official website of Transport Canada:

–   Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace

–   Over a forest fire area or any area located within five nautical miles of a forest fire area, or in any airspace for which a NOTAM for Forest Fire Aircraft Operating Restrictions has been emitted

–   Zones where a 5.1 of the Aeronautics Act restricts the use of airspace to all aircraft has been emitted

–   Take off and land in national parks.

–   The security perimeter of a police or first responder emergency operation

–   Near or over advertised events, such as outdoor concerts and sporting events.

You can only fly in the above areas or airspace controlled by Nav Canada/Minister of National Defence (MND) with proper authorizations and an advanced pilot license.

Read here to learn more about where to fly your drone in Canada.

Canada Drone Penalties For Violating Drone Laws

Breaking the rules in Canada attracts severe penalties. You could also be looking at jail time for serious offenses.

You are in drone law violation if:

–   Flying without a drone pilot certificate (up to $1000)

–   Flying drones that are not registered (up to $1000)

–   Flying in restricted airspace without authorization (up to $1000)

–   Flying in a manner that puts people at risk (up to $1000)

These are the fines for individuals. The fines for corporations can be found here.

Conclusion

It is important to follow and respect the drone laws in any country as they are designed for our safety.

I strongly recommend complying with existing drone operation rules Canada for an enjoyable experience. 

Also, if you want to check out other drone laws in different countries such as Albania then make sure to read our guide here.

Hope you found this information useful. Happy flying!

FAQ

Yes, registering your drone falls under the basic Canadian drone legal requirements if you are a citizen.

Foreign pilots need a valid drone pilot certificate as well as a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).

Yes. Canada restricts flying in sensitive areas. You can find the safe places to fly in the interactive map issued by the National Research Council.

No. while there are no legal laws governing micro drones (<250 grams), the pilot needs to be mindful of the area they are flying in and avoid negligence or reckless flying.

If you are flying without registration then a penalty of up to $1000 may be levied. Flouting drone flying rules can also include jail time in some cases.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *