Getting permission to fly your drone

From Transport Canada

Flying a drone for work, research or as a hobby?

You need special permission (a Special Flight Operations Certification or exemption) if:

  • you fly for work or research, or
  • you fly for fun and your drone weighs over 35 kg

You do not need special permission if:

  • you fly your drone for fun, and
  • it weighs under 35 kg

On this page

About the Special Flight Operations Certificate

To use a drone of any size for work or research, you must:

  • hold a Special Flight Operations Certificate, or
  • qualify for one of two exemptions

You also need a Special Flight Operations Certificate if your drone weighs over 35 kg, even if it is used recreationally.

Our infographic Do I need permission to fly my drone? will help you understand whether you need a certificate or if you qualify for an exemption.

Each Special Flight Operations Certificate contains conditions for where and how to fly, such as:

  • how high you can fly
  • how close you can fly to people and property
  • what rules you must follow to share the airspace

For more information, see Applying for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

The Canadian Aviation Regulations require these certificates to ensure that operators fly reliably and safely. The full requirements can be read in the Unmanned Air Vehicles section of the regulations.

Note: Drones used for work or research are legally called Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV).

Qualifying for an exemption to fly a drone

Two exemptions allow drone use for work or research, without a Special Flight Operations Certificate, when the use is low risk and in a remote area. If you are a recreational drone user, the exemptions do not apply.

To use an exemption, you must have read and understood the official exemption document. You must also carry one of the exemption documents below while flying your drone:

You also need at least $100,000 of liability insurance to qualify for an exemption. You must buy insurance from a company that offers coverage for public liability, as required by the regulations.

If you cannot meet all of the requirements in the exemption document, you need a Special Flight Operations Certificate to use your drone. See the table below for a summary of rules:

Type of exemption How to qualify
UAVs that weigh 1 kg or less
  1. Read the Exemption for UAVs that weigh 1 kg or less.
  2. Ensure you meet all safety conditions outlined in the exemption.
  3. Notify Transport Canada that you qualify under this exemption by completing and submitting the Exemption Notification Form.
  4. Fly safely.
UAVs that weigh above 1 kg, up to and including 25 kg
  1. Read the Exemption for UAVs above 1 kg, up to and including 25 kg.
  2. Ensure you meet all safety conditions outlined in the exemption.
  3. Notify Transport Canada that you qualify under this exemption by completing and submitting the Exemption Notification Form.
  4. Fly safely.

Guidance Material for Operating Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Under an Exemption gives more information on the exemptions as well as detailed information on each safety rule. You are strongly advised to review this Advisory Circular before operating under either exemption.

The infographic Do I qualify under the UAV exemptions? gives a quick overview of the rules. You must still read the exemption document and meet all of its conditions.

Training required to fly a drone under the exemptions

Each exemption has specific training requirements. For example, to fly a drone that weighs above 1 kg, up to and including 25 kg, you must be trained to understand:

  • airspace classification and structure
  • weather and notice to airmen (NOTAM) reporting services
  • aeronautical charts and the Canada Flight Supplement
  • relevant sections of the Canadian Aviation Regulations

For more information, read the knowledge requirements for UAV (drone) pilots.

Exemption notification form

To qualify for a UAV (drone) exemption, you must meet all the safety conditions in the exemption and provide Transport Canada with the following information. You must do so before you fly. Fill out the e-form below:

I confirm that:

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