Laser safety measure: questions and answers

Transport Canada has put in place a new permanent safety measure (regulation) to protect Canadians from laser attacks on aircraft. This replaces the previous interim order. Find answers to any questions you may have about buying and possessing lasers as well as about enforcement and penalties.

On this page

About the safety measure (regulation)

Where is it prohibited to possess a laser with a power output over 1 milliwatt (mW) outside private dwellings?

We invite you to explore our new interactive map to find out where you can and cannot possess a hand-held laser over 1 mW.

What type of hand-held lasers are prohibited under the regulation?

Hand-held lasers over 1 milliwatt (mW) are prohibited. You may still use hand-held lasers 1 mW or less.

Are 1 mW lasers harmless?

Unless it’s taken apart, a hand-held laser with a power output of 1 mW or less can be operated safely.

Learn more about laser classification and power output

How do I know if my laser is 1 mW or less?

Look for any warning labels, safety features and instructions about your laser. Also look for your laser’s classification on the label and in the instructions. If you’re not sure about its classification, contact the manufacturer.

Where can I find out more about the regulations?

Please read Use hand-held lasers legally and safely and the regulation.

If you still have questions or concerns, you can contact:

Buying and possessing a laser

I have a hand-held laser over 1 mW. Can I keep it?

You may keep your hand-held laser for a legitimate reason, such as for work, school or educational purposes. But, you must comply with the regulations. This means you can’t be in possession of your laser in public areas within:

  • municipalities within the greater Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver regions
  • a 10-kilometre radius of any airport or certified heliport

Can I still buy and own a hand-held laser?

Yes, you are allowed to own and purchase a hand-held laser. But if it’s over 1 mW, you must comply with the regulations.

I live within a prohibited zone and just bought a laser from the store. How do I bring it home?

The regulations do not affect the purchase and sale of hand-held lasers.

The regulations include an exception for transportation of hand-held lasers between place of purchase and a dwelling house, and transportation between dwelling houses. Possession is not prohibited in a dwelling house.

Most Canadians obey the law. As an individual, consider transporting the laser in its original packaging and store it safely .

As a corporation, use the same discretion as if you were an individual.

Law enforcement agencies are aware of legitimate reasons to be in possession of a laser.

Enforcement and penalties

How will law enforcement know that I’m using a laser for a legitimate reason? Will I need to carry proof?

You don’t need to carry any documentation, but you should be prepared to demonstrate to the officer why you’re in possession of a hand-held laser.

Law enforcement agencies are aware of legitimate reasons to be in possession of a laser. They will exercise their discretion and judgement when determining whether or not to issue a fine.

Can an offender be charged for two offences—both for shining a laser at an aircraft and for possession under the regulations?

Yes, an offender can be fined for an offence under Section 601.20 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and for prohibited possession under the new regulations at the same time.

What are the maximum fines? How did we determine those amounts?

The maximum fine amounts are:

  1. Under the Contraventions Regulations:
    • up to $1,000
  2. Under the Canadian Aviation Regulations:
    • up to $5,000 for an individual
    • up to $25,000 for a corporation
  3. Aeronautics Act: If you are convicted of intentionally interfering with an aircraft by using a laser, you could face one or both of:
    • up to $100,000 in fines
    • up to 5 years in prison

These fines, called administrative monetary penalties, come from the Canadian Aviation Regulations, the Contraventions Act and the Aeronautics Act.

Law enforcement uses discretion on how much to fine an individual. The amount may depend on previous infractions and circumstances surrounding this infraction.

More information

Use hand-held lasers legally and safely