New Transport Canada UAV Exemption Details Announced

Today Transport Canada made the details on the less than 2kg and 2-25kg weight class exemptions known on their website.

If your aircraft:

Weighs less than 2 kg and you can meet the safety conditions in the Transport Canada exemption for UAVs that weigh less than 2 kg, you don’t need to request permission to fly.

Weighs between 2 kg and 25 kg and you can meet the safety conditions in the Transport Canada exemption for UAVs that weigh between 2 kg and 25 kg, you don’t need to request permission to fly. However, you must email Transport Canada with:

Your name, address, and phone number
UAV model and serial number
A description of the operation
The geographical boundaries of the operation
If you cannot or choose not to meet the safety conditions in the UAV exemptions, you must apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

Use this infographic to help you understand the rules and find out if you need permission to fly.



For most operators however this will have very little impact.  The following restrictions make the exemptions primarily focused on rural areas only, such as farms, wood lots, mines, etc.


  • Fly closer than 9 km from forest fires, airports, heliports, aerodromes, or built-up areas
  • Fly over crowds or higher than 90 metres

    “These exemptions mark an important milestone in UAV safety. By easing restrictions for businesses, Canada is promoting growth and innovation in an important sector, while ensuring the continued safety of those on the ground and in the sky.”

    The Honourable Lisa Raitt
    Minister of Transport

    Quick Facts

  • Canada has had safety regulations in place that govern the use of UAVs since 1996.
  • Operators that use UAVs over 25 kg for work or research must apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
  • If an operator flies a UAV without a Special Flight Operations Certificate and should have one, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company.
  • If an operator does not follow the requirements of their Special Flight Operations Certificate, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a business.
  • Recreational operators continue to be responsible to fly safely and should refer to Transport Canada’s website for information on any operating requirements.


  1. Honestly, I never dreamed they would do such a great job, Its even safer in many ways that the hobby rules and still covers off the bases, thanks for re-posting Mark!!


    1. I was very excited about this at first, until somebody else pointed out the 9km from built-up areas part. That completely kills it. I have to think that is actually a mistake, because it’s completely unreasonable, while the rest of the document is completely sensible. Also it’s so vague. What is the definition of a “built up area”?

      Also, one of the main points of this whole thing, was to reduce the amount of SFOC’s being submitted. TC is swamped with applications. They wanted to unburden them for the same things. But, that restriction would mean that just about everybody still has to apply.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t see the 9km as a mistake. TC weren’t going to make this a free for all for everyone to fly where ever they wanted. it is for very specific rural uses. Most will still need SFOCs for anything done in urban areas, same as before.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not even rural uses. I live rural. There’s always a town every ~10km.

        It just doesn’t make sense with the stated intent of these rules, which was to make it possible to do simple, safe operations.

        So, a person cannot use a 1.5 kg quadcopter with RTH capability to take a few real estate photos. But a hobbyist can fly a 30 kg 1/3rd scale plane within 4 km of an airport? That is just nonsensical.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wildfires (My raison d’etre) and The 9km was also a killer for me, because most Airports/aerodromes are 6km from the small communities, also 30 meters from buildings. so this means my biggest opportunities all require SFOC. 30 meters from buildings makes it a guarantee that to do residential realty shots, I need SOFC to get close enough. Sitll all in all I am grateful from the work.


  3. Even with an SFOC the 30M is still a restriction but the building that is part of the operation you can be closer to, it is only in reference to elements outside the operation itself.


    1. Gee thats worse. In my case, nearly *all* houses in the NWT communities have other houses within 30 meters so if its still a restriction, filming and shooting all the local B&Bs and realty opportunities cant even happen unless I fly for free 😦 I just realized they lowered the insurance requirement to 100k which is also a huge shift to the better.


      1. Yes, exactly. We need clarification on this. This was supposed to be better, and make things easier. There’s a brief somewhere that even talks about making it easier for real-estate photography, etc. But these restrictions completely kill that. You can only take real estate photos of houses on 4+ acre lots, 9km from town. So, it’ll be great if you’re selling a farm-house, but that’s about it.

        It doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

        The only people this will help is going to be the tarsands industry.

        I live in a rural area, and I can’t even do a job at an open pit mine, because there are still towns within 9km. You don’t get 18km between towns until you are WAY up north.


      2. I don’t think they ever claimed it was going to make it easier for all. This is really for limited uses such as farms, mines, forestry. mining in remote areas.


    1. “I don’t think they ever claimed it was going to make it easier for all. This is really for limited uses such as farms, mines, forestry. mining in remote areas.”

      Lisa Raitt:
      “For businesses, these changes will make it easier for their small UAVs to take flight sooner, while maintaining the safety of those on the ground and in the skies,”

      From this story

      GC press release here:

      Sure sounds like they were touting simplified rules to me!


  4. No, there’s definitely some confusion here. Check this page:

    “Don’t fly:
    Closer than 9 km from any airport, heliport, or aerodrome.
    In populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows.”

    This says don’t fly IN populated areas, not 9km from them.

    If it is actually 9km from any populations, then that restriction needs to be at the VERY TOP of the decision tree, not buried in a footnote of an infographic.

    I can’t find the thing I read last night where it specifically said the reason the regulatory exemptions came out was to allow simple applications and reduce SFOC workload. I’ll keep looking.


    1. Problem is some of those guidelines are for recreational and some are commercial. They are muddling the two together and causing confusion. They need to clarify it all better.

      The exemption requirements for commercial use do state the 9KM restriction for built up areas.


    2. Yes, there is definitely some confusion. I’ll be very disappointed if it turns out that hobbyists continue to have way more freedoms than commercial operators, and it’s just completely unjustified.

      I never suggested or expected the new rules would remove all for everyone. But I expect these rules will only reduce workload… in the single-digit percent.


      1. New rules are actually about what I expected. If your a commercial operator the simple solution is get a blanket SFOC, then none of this impacts you. Otherwise you will be limited by the exemption requirements ongoing.



    They have yet to update or add the official exemption documents and related details. Hopefully when they do it will clarify it further.

    I’m not sure why they have deiced to trickle these out in a slow confusing manner, would have been better if it all came at once so we are not left assuming things.


  6. I really have to agree with Robert and thanks Robert for making the point!

    The rule that you must not fly within 9km from a built up area does NOT belong in the footnote and should be listed front and centre. It’s way to easy to miss that rule. My guess is that TC tried to show it as a rule for both columns.

    My only saving grace is doing fishing videos and photos out in the boonies to pay for my gear and insurance (which I’m not complaining about, insurance should be required).


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