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Canada passed new laws making it even harder to fly drones for fun

The new rules are more restrictive than in the U.S., and violating them could result in a $3,000 (Canadian) fine.

Drone in Flight Bruce Bennett / Getty

Canada released new regulations for flying recreational drones this morning.

The rules apply to noncommercial drone operators flying aircraft weighing between 250 grams (about half a pound) and 35 kilograms (77 pounds). Violators can face fines up to $3,000 Canadian, or about $2,248 U.S.

That’s almost 60 percent higher than fines in the U.S., where it tops out at $1,414.

Before these new rules, Canada had a set of guidelines for flying recreational drones safely, but there were no penalties for not following them, Canada’s Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said in a press conference today.

Under the new recreational drone rules, you can’t fly:

  • Higher than 90 meters (300 ft.) above the ground
  • At a distance of more than 500 meters (1,640 ft.) 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 or within 9 km of forest fires
  • If your drone doesn’t have your name, address and telephone number labeled on the aircraft
  • In a way that interferes with first responders or police

Canada’s new rules are more restrictive than U.S. recreational drone regulations, which allow for flying up to 400 feet, don’t have a set distance restriction for flying near buildings and allow for recreational flying at night.

U.S. rules also don’t have a set restriction for how far away a drone is allowed to fly from its operator, but rather require drones be kept within the operator’s line of sight.

Members of the drone industry say they didn't see Canada’s new regulations coming.

“I’m very surprised,” Brendan Schulman, the head of policy at DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, said in an interview. “There was no consultation with any relevant stakeholders before this announcement was made.”

The order issued this morning is an interim order; according to CBC, Garneau said in a press conference that he plans to update Canada’s drone laws more fully this summer.

The Ottawa Airport Authority called the new rules, “a necessary and welcome move,” in a statement today. Incidents involving drones at Canadian airports have more than tripled since 2014, according to the Globe and Mail.

The 250g weight limit is likely derived from U.S. drone registration requirements and has roots in Cold War-era math.

The rules also prohibit flying a drone for fun throughout large swaths of many urban areas in the country, as Canadian journalists on Twitter pointed out:

This article originally appeared on

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