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Find your category of drone operation

In Canada, there are 2 main categories of drone operation: basic and advanced. Each one has a different set of rules drone pilots must follow.

The weight of your drone, distance from bystanders and airspace rules define your category. The rules do not treat people who fly drones for fun or for business differently.

Basic operations

If you meet all 3 of these conditions, you’re conducting basic operations:

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

If you do not meet any 1 of these 3 conditions, you are conducting advanced operations.

For example, let’s say you fly your drone more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders but in controlled airspace. This operation is advanced because you’re flying in controlled airspace even if you’re more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders.

For basic operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time
  • Mark your drone with its registration number
  • Pass the Small Basic Exam
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations and proof of registration when you fly

Advanced operations

If you meet any 1 of these conditions, you are conducting advanced operations:

  • 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)

For advanced operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time
  • Mark your drone with its registration number
  • Pass the Small Advanced Exam
  • Pass a flight review with a flight reviewer
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and proof of registration when you fly your drone
  • Fly within the operational limits of your drone

You can only use drones that meet the safety requirements for the operation you want to conduct. See tips on choosing the right drone before you fly.

If you have a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations, you do not need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations to conduct basic operations.

Micro drones (under 250 grams) and drones that weigh more than 25 kilograms

Micro drones (under 250 grams) and drones that weigh more than 25 kilograms do not fall into the basic or advanced operations categories. If you have a micro drone, you must fly it away from aircraft and airports. Never put people, aircraft or property in danger. Only fly your drone where you can see it and avoid flying in clouds or fog. Always fly responsibly.

If your drone weighs over 25 kilograms or you want to fly outside the rules, you will need to get special permission from Transport Canada before you fly.