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New Drone Regulations Canada

New Drone Regulations Canada

Of all the aviation governing authorities, the Canadians probably have one of the most practical and easy-to-understand legislation structures developed for the drone industry. It provides for a lot if implied freedom to the law abiding drone flying citizen, whilst maintaining safety boundaries.

The Transport Canada Civil Aviation authority (TCCA) does regular reviews and published the New Drone Regulations Canada effective June 1, 2019. The Canadian drone laws were adjusted in harmony with the global need for better control of drone flying. Amongst others, the UK promptly enlarged their airport buffer zones after the December 2018 events at Gatwick Airport. Drones flying in the vicinity of the airport caused havoc and the closure of the airport. The damage to lost income amounted to 100’s of millions of GBP.

In this article both the former and new rules will be explained.

SECTION A: Rules Applying Until May 31, 2019

Q: Are there areas where drones are not to be flown?

A: For sure. These are called “No Drone Zones” and include aerodromes, national parks, border crossings and busy, populated areas.’No Drone’ Zones Are Sometimes Marked Signs Under The Canadian Drone Laws


Q: When do the rules apply?

A: These rules apply when drones weighing between 250g and 35kg are flown for recreational purposes. Drone flights at a field or event approved by the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada are excluded.

Q: Are there any height limits?

A: Yes, you are restricted to fly below 90m (300ft).

Q: Can I fly anywhere I want?

A: No. For a drone weighing:

  1. 250g – 1kg, remain at least 30m (100’) clear of people, vehicles and vessels;
  2. 1kg – 35kg, remain at least 76m (250ft) clear of people, vehicles and vessels, and

For all drones, fly:

  • Not closer than 5.6km (3nm) from aerodromes and other places where aircraft take-off and land
  • Not closer than 1.9km (1nm) from heliports
  • Outside of controlled or restricted airspace
  • More than 9km (5nm) from a natural hazard or disaster area
  • Not in the vicinity of police operation or first responders
  • In daytime only, and clear of clouds
  • So that you remain within visual contact with your drone at all times
  • Not further than 500 metres (1640 feet) of yourself
  • Only if your drone is clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number

Q: Where can I find help in selecting a safe area to fly in legally?

A: Click to navigate to a handy interactive site selector distributed by the National Research Council Canada. It will make the job of selecting a site much easier!

Q: Which rules apply when I fly for work, or with drones weighing more than 35kg when fully equipped?

A: You have to obtain a Special Flight Operations certificate from TCCA. This certificate is specific to the circumstances of your application and certain exemptions may apply to drones weighing less than 25kg.

Q: Can I get in trouble if not following the above rules?

A: Absolutely, yes. Serious fines apply. Leisure drone flyers can be fined up to $3,000 for a transgression, and fines for the professional drone environment may extend up to $25000.

SECTION B: Rules Applying After 1 June 2019

The law upgrade attempted to create better awareness and accountability amongst drone pilots, which led to the introduction of a certification programme for both pilots and vehicles. This is now mandated by the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) Part IX – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

The first thing to understand is that the new drone regulations Canada are much different from the old set of rules since the structure has been changed as per below:

New Drone Laws in Canada Differ Significantly From The Old

Q: The new Part IX regulatory structure refers to “Basic Operations” and “Advanced Operations”. What do these mean?

A: To be classified as a Basic Operation, your drone should meet all of these requirements:

  • You fly it in uncontrolled airspace, and
  • You fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders, and
  • You never fly it over bystanders

If any 1 of these criteria is not satisfied, yours would be an Advanced Operation.

Q: Ok, I just want to practise my skills, conforming with the “Basic Operation” criteria. Can I go now?

A: Unfortunately not. Firstly, your drone has to be registered with the authorities (click to do this) which would cost you $5. The registration number must be affixed to your drone. You also need to pass a small online knowledge exam costing $15, which may require some prestudy of the new rules. Study material can be found here, but TCCA recommend attending a training course with a flight school.

Q: There may be other people at the park that I plan to fly from, thus making my drone flight an Advanced Operation. Do I also have to pass an online exam to do this?

A: Yes, you do. In fact, if ANY of the following criteria apply, your operation would fall into the “Advanced Operations” category and you will have to take the corresponding “Small Advanced Exam” (click for access):

  • 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)

Once you passed your exam, you also have to do a flight review with an examiner (“Flight Reviewer”). Your local flight school would be able to provide more information.

Q: Once completed, what do I do with my flight certificate?

A: Keep it with you when flying your drone, as you must be able to produce it on request from an official.

Q: I have a toy drone weighing 210g with battery and camera fitted. Do I have to conform with all these rules?

A: Microdrones below 250g are excluded from the Part IX rules. However, you still have to fly it away from aircraft and airports, taking the safety of other people, aircraft and property into account.

Q: What about operations with drones over 25kg, or when the drone weighs less than 25kg but the rules would be exceeded?

A: A Special Flight Operations Certificate needs to be obtained (click to apply).

Take Away

A handy summary is given in the schematic below which might help to make this whole lot more understandable. And please DO comment on this presentation format– we were trying to present the complex New Drone Regulations Canada in the most simplistic manner available!

Determine Which Category You Fly Under the New Drone Laws Canada

This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Good info. Especially the recap chart makes it easier to understand.   

    What agency or authority enforces these rules and how serious are they about enforcement?  Often there are so many laws on the books it’s impossible and not practical to keep  up with enforcement, until someone does something stupid then they come down on you. Drones are fun for all ages and getting more popular with the public and business.

    In the insurance industry, they are the first “go to” source for catastrophic events like hurricanes and tornadoes because people and cars can’t always get up close to the disaster site.  

    1. Thanks for your remarks Les. Enforcement is a big discussion point. Most authorities have training programs for the various law enforcement agencies in place and they are able to levy stiff fines. But I think it will be a while before the broad public is informed. Hopefully, this happens before and not after some disaster occurs!

      Happy hovering!

  2. Great Content and Information!

    What a concise and thorough article. I found the post very detailed and Informative. So so many useful tips and tricks all on one page! Wonderful! I bookmarked to look further. This is an eye opener for me as I am just getting to know about the new drones regulations in canada. I can attest to the fact that I learnt alot from this article. Thanks for the live changing sensitization

  3. Hi Arie,
    Happy to know about the regulations for flying drone in Canada. There are no such restrictions in my hometown. Sometimes when a drone flies near to me, it makes me discomfort. I think it’s a very good idea to have some restrictions while using a drone for safety also. Thank you very much for sharing this valuable presentation.

    1. Ranao, thanks for the compliment. Many of the authorities, including India and Thailand, are presently sharpening up on the law enforcement. Hopefully your discomfort will soon be something of the past. Happy hovering!

  4. This article is super rich with latest information on new drone regulations in Canada. Seriously this article must be read by everyone as drones can’t just be flied anyhow. The punishment attracts a hooping 3000 dollars for any violation. I have learnt something important today which I must inform my friends as well. This article is really informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing this article. 

  5. You have done a great job enlightening us with this new development in Canada. I really love the way you concisely drafted this piece,  It is highly informative to be frank. I think the fines for any transgressor is quite reasonable ($3000 for leisure drone flyer and $25000 for Professinal flyer), this will definitely scare people away from Breaking the law. The new regulations which takes effect as from June is quite cool as it attracts awareness amongst drone pilots and car users. Kudos to you for this highly informativ article.

  6. Hi Arie,

    Thank You very much for sharing such an informative post with all the necessary information about “New Drone Regulations Canada”

    Really this is an amazing article. I like this article very much. I have learn something new and interesting from your article.I have learn properly all the information of new drone regulations in canada.This article is very helpful for all the peoples who are not aware about the restriction of using drone in canada.I have gained all the details of new drone regulations canada as you highlighted the article so nicely.I will share this article with my friends and relatives so that they can benefited from this.

  7. Hi Arie,
    This is a great informative and educative article about Drone Regulation Canada. In my country, there is no rules and restriction yet. Very few people are using a flying drone in my country. After reading your article, I have understood the importance of Drone Regulation for any country. I believe that those rules and restriction will be helpful to avoid so many accidental incidents. I am going to share this information with others. Thanks for writing this helpful article.

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