Flying your drone safely and legally
Drones are aircraft—which makes you a pilot. When you fly your drone, you’re sharing the skies with other drones and aircraft. Before you fly, understand the rules you must follow and review our safety tips.
On this page
Legal requirements when flying drones
Drone pilots must follow the rules in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Part IX – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems contains most of the rules that apply to drones up to 25 kilograms. You should read these regulations in full before you fly your drone for the first time.
Drone pilots must carry a valid drone pilot certificate and only fly drones that are marked and registered. If you are flying a drone that is less than 250 grams, you do not need to register the drone or get a drone pilot certificate.
Members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) may be exempt from Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations if they meet the conditions set out in Exemption NCR-011-2019.
Respect all other laws
You must respect all other laws when flying your drone. We encourage you to read the following documents before you fly for the first time:
You must respect the privacy rights of others when you fly.
We investigate reports of unsafe flying. We may involve local police if you break other laws.
Fly your drone safely
It’s important that you fly your drone responsibly to avoid harming others. Here are the rules you need to follow.
Before you fly
- Understand your legal requirements when flying drones
- Understand the difference between basic and advanced operations
- Get the necessary knowledge requirements
- Get a drone pilot certificate
- Choose the right drone if you want to perform advanced operations
- Register your drone
- Follow your drone manufacturer’s instructions
- Survey the area where you will fly
- Take note of any obstacles, such as buildings and power lines
- Advanced operations only - to operate in controlled airspace (Classes C, D or E) you need to ask NAV CANADA for an RPAS Flight Authorization
To keep yourself and others safe, fly your drone:
- where you can see it at all times
- below 122 metres (400 feet) in the air
- away from bystanders, at a minimum horizontal distance of 30 metres for basic operations
- away from emergency operations and advertised events
- Avoid forest fires, outdoor concerts and parades
- away from airports and heliports
- 5.6 kilometres (3 nautical miles) from airports
- 1.9 kilometres (1 nautical mile) from heliports
- outside controlled airspace (for basic operations only)
- far away from other aircraft
- Don’t fly anywhere near airplanes, helicopters and other drones
You could face serious penalties, including fines and/or jail time, if you break the rules.
Fines for individuals
- up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
- up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
- up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed
- up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk
Fines for corporations
- up to $5,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
- up to $5,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
- up to $5,000 for flying where you are not allowed
- up to $15,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk
If you break more than one rule, you could receive multiple penalties.
Tips for first-time pilots
- Make sure it is safe to fly (ask yourself, for example: are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold or windy to fly?)
- Fly your drone with someone who has flown a drone before
- Fly your drone in an open space and away from people
- Fly your drone close to the ground and at a low speed
- Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather
Public liability insurance
We recommend 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.
Useful terms to know
Drone and Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)
We use the term “drone” on these pages to refer to any type of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). There are a number of different terms for this technology. In Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, we use the term Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to align with our international partners.
Visual-line-of-sight means keeping your device in sight at all times without visual aid (for example, binoculars or video feed). This means not flying into clouds or fog, or behind trees, buildings or other (even partial) obstructions.
Bystander refers to anyone that is not directly associated with the operation. Among others, this excludes the pilot and crew.