Canada’s New Drone Rules Aren’t Flyer-Friendly

If you thought the recreational drone rules were tough in the United States, be thankful you don't live in Canada.

Canada might have universal healthcare and the metric system, but recreational drone flyers in the United States won’t be envious of their neighbors to the north.

Canada’s new drone rules are more restrictive than in the U.S.

The new rules, which are listed below, apply to non-commercial operators who are flying drones that weigh between 250 grams (about half a pound) and 35 kilograms (77 pounds). And if anyone is caught breaking the rules, they can face fines up to $3,000 Canadian (or $2,248 US). Fines in the US for violating drone rules are capped at $1,414.

According to Canada’s new rules recreational drone operators can’t fly:

  • Higher than 90 meters (300 ft.) above the ground
  • More than 500 meters (1,640 ft.) away from the operator
  • Within 75 meters (246 ft.) of buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people or crowds
  • At night or in the clouds
  • Within 9 km (5.6 miles) from the center of an airport or other facility where aircraft takeoff
  • If your drone doesn’t have your name, address and telephone number labeled on the aircraft
  • If you’ll be interfering with first responders or police

The first four rules above are really where Canada is being stricter than the US, which to compare:

  • Allows you to fly up to 400 feet high
  • Allows you to fly at night
  • Doesn’t specify a restriction for how far away a drone is allowed to fly from its operator, as long as its stays within the visual line of sight
  • Doesn’t set a distance for flying near buildings

Members of the drone industry say they didn’t see this coming, and recreational drone flyers in Canada certainly aren’t happy with the new rules. Kristian Binder is just one example, of course, but he lives in the northern Canadian town of Inuvik, all of which is within 5.6 miles of an airport. He tells the CBC that “basically, if I’m following the rules, I won’t be able to fly in Inuvik anymore.” Binder continues, “I’ll just be able to do landscape photography out of town away from people, away from buildings.”

Canadian journalist John Bowman took to Twitter to also point out how limiting these rules will be:

The Ottawa Airport Authority called the new rules, “a necessary and welcome move,” in a statement, citing the increasing number of reported drone incidents at Canadian airports.

Canada Drone Rules

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe:  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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