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.
Drone pilots must always carry a valid drone pilot certificate while operating their drone. A valid drone pilot certificate is a printed or electronic document issued by Transport Canada. No other form of certification will be accepted.
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:
- Relevant sections of the Criminal Code, including Offences against Air or Maritime Safety, Breaking and Entering, and Mischief
- your province’s trespass act
- laws related to voyeurism and privacy
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.
Who can fly
You need a drone pilot licence to fly drones that weigh 250 grams (g) up to and including 25 kilograms (kg).
You need to be 14 years old to get a basic license and 16 years old to get an advanced license. Children younger than 14 must be supervised by someone with a license. This includes clubs, camps and other youth groups.
Before you fly
- Understand your legal requirements when flying drones
- Understand the difference between basic and advanced operations (find your category of drone operation)
- 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 always see it
- You can fly at night if you have lights on your drone
- 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.
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 several 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 always keeping your device in sight 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.