New Canadian Drone Piloting Rules, What’s Changed?

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New Canadian drone piloting rules were announced by Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau that will take effect on June 1st, 2019 and they include a number of changes to the older regulations we posted about in July 2017.

New Canadian Drone Piloting Rules – Highlights

The new rules apply to anyone who will be operating a drone weighing between 250 grams and 25 kilograms and is flown within a pilot’s visual-line-of-sight, regardless of application (fun, work or research).

DJI Spark

DJI Spark weighs 300 grams

Anyone wishing to pilot a drone will have to pass an online exam, get a pilot certificate for basic or advanced operations and be at least 14 years of age.

As with the current rules, anyone wishing to pilot a drone in circumstances that fall outside of the rules of basic or advanced drone operations as mentioned above, are required to apply and be approved for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).

It will also be mandatory to register your drone(s) individually with Transport Canada and be issued a registration number (same as with normal aircraft) which will have to be clearly visible on the drone itself before you can fly.

Pilots will also be required to carry a copy of their certification(s) and proof of registration (hard copy or electronic copy on a mobile device) with them at all times when operating their drone.

Associated Registration/Examination Fees

  • Drone Registration – $5.00
  • Pilot exam (Basic or Advanced operations) – $10.00
  • Pilot certificate — Advanced operations – $25.00

New Flying Rules

When flying a drone the following rules apply:

  • Drone must be within line-of-sight at all times
  • Keep below 122 metres (400 feet) in the air (currently 90m/400ft)
  • Stay a minimum distance of 30m from bystanders (excludes pilot & crew), for basic operations (unchanged)
  • Avoid emergency operations and advertised events such as:
    • forest fires
    • outdoor concerts
    • parades
  • Stay away from airports and heliports
    • 5.6 kilometres (3 nautical miles) from airports (unchanged)
    • 1.9 kilometres (1 nautical mile) from heliports (unchanged)
  • Stay far away from other aircraft including: (No specific distance listed)
    • Airplanes
    • helicopters
    • other drones

The new rules also officially make it illegal to operate a drone within 12 hours of consuming an alcoholic beverage or while under the influence of alcohol (i.e. drunk) or any drug that “impairs a person’s faculties to the extent that aviation safety or the safety of any person is endangered or like to to be endangered.”

Interestingly, there is no formal requirement for personal liability insurance, however, the government does highly recommend buying some to make sure you are covered in case of an accident involving a person or property and your drone.


Anyone caught breaking these rules can face fines up to a maximum of $5000 for individuals or $25,000 for businesses and/or jail time.

Cover Image Credit: david henrichs on Unsplash