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Regulations

Before you fly a drone, you should know whether or not there are any restrictions in the country where you are flying. If you don't follow the rules, you may be putting lives at risk. In addition, you may be subject to heavy fines, so it pays to be sure of the rules.

Here are the drone regulations from aviation authorities for various countries. This information will be periodically updated to reflect changes.

* LAST UPDATED: Jan 11, 2016 *

Canada (Transport Canada):

Flying Guidelines

Do:

  • Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
  • Keep your drone in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.
  • Make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
  • Know if you need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate
  • Respect the privacy of others – avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Don't:

  • Fly near areas with large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows.
  • Fly near moving vehicles, near highways, bridges, busy streets, or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.
  • Fly over military bases, prisons, forest fires, or anywhere you could interfere with first responders.
  • Fly closer than 150 metres from animals
  • Fly within 150 metres from people, buildings, structures, or vehicles.
  • Fly higher than 90 metres above the ground.
  • Fly closer than nine kilometres from an airport, heliport, or aerodrome.

In addition, recreational use of a UAV/drone is prohibited in national parks. The National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations prohibits aircraft landings and take-offs in national parks except by permission of the Superintendent for park management purposes or in emergencies.

PERMITS

Flying UAV not more than 35kg recreationally - permit not required

Work or research use - permit required, with the following exemptions

From the Transport Canada website:

To use your UAV for any form of work or research, you are legally required to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). This applies to all UAVs used for anything but the fun of flying and regardless of how much they weigh. Transport Canada inspectors will review your SFOC application and determine what safety conditions are needed to reduce the risks.
You must send a detailed application to the Transport Canada Civil Aviation office in the region where you intend to fly your UAV. Your application must include your contact information and describe how, when and where you plan to use your UAV, as well as how you plan to deal with the safety risks.
 

FINES

People who should have an SFOC but don't:

  • Individuals: Up to $5,000.
  • Businesses: Up to $25,000.

People who don't follow the conditions of their SFOC:

  • Individuals: Up to $3,000.
  • Businesses: $15,000.

Full infomation: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/general-recavi-uav-2265....

Proposed amendments for 2016: http://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/2/NPA-APM/actr.aspx?id=17&aType=1&la...

Jonathan's picture
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United States Regulations

United States (FAA):

Any drone that weighs more than 0.55 lbs must be registered before it can be flown outdoors. Drone owners 13 years and older are required to submit their name, email and home address to receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. This will include a unique identification number owners must affix to any drone they own and operate exclusively for recreation.

Registration will be valid for three years. Once registered, owners will be able to access the registration website to update the information provided to register the aircraft as well as cancel registration as circumstances require (e.g., aircraft destruction, transfer, sale, change in owner eligibility to register).

To register your drone, go to https://registermyuas.faa.gov/

PENALTIES for not registering:

Failure to register an aircraft can result in civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000 under 18 U.S.C. 3571 and/or imprisonment up to three years.

Recreational Use

Defined as the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for personal interests and enjoyment. For example, using a UAS to take photographs for your own personal use would be considered recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a commercial operation. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes commercial or other non-hobby, non-recreational UAS operations.

Safety guidelines for recreational users:

  • Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
  • Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft
  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your drone within eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the drone.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Don’t conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

Users of commercial and recreational UAS should be aware that in remote, rural and agricultural areas, manned aircraft, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, may be operating very close to ground level. Pilots conducting agricultural, firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical, wildlife survey operations and a variety of other services all legally and routinely work in low-level airspace. Operators controlling UAS in these areas should maintain situational awareness, give way to, and remain a safe distance from these low-level, manned airplanes and helicopters.

Commercial Use

The FAA currently authorizes the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for commercial or business purposes on a case-by-case basis. You may not fly your UAS for commercial purpose without the express permission from the FAA. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes a commercial or business use of small UAS.

What qualifies:

Any commercial use in connection with a business, including:

  • Selling photos or videos taken from a UAS
  • Using UAS to provide contract services, such as industrial equipment or factory inspection
  • Using UAS to provide professional services, such as security or telecommunications

Examples:

  • Professional real estate or wedding photography
  • Professional cinema photography for a film or television production
  • Providing contract services for mapping or land surveys

If you want to use UAS for a commercial purpose, you have a few options. You can apply for an exemption from the FAA to operate commercially. You can use UAS with an FAA airworthiness certificate and operate pursuant to FAA rules. In both cases you would also need an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA). For more information about how to apply for an exemption, visit the FAA’s “Section 333” page.

Public Entities

Public entities, which include publically funded universities, law enforcement, fire departments and other government agencies, may currently apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA in order to use small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in public aircraft operations.

Who can obtain a COA to operate public aircraft?

  • Only government entities—such as federal and state government agencies, law enforcement agencies and public colleges and universities—can receive a COA for public UAS aircraft operations.
  • Public aircraft operations must be conducted for a governmental function.
  • COAs are most commonly issued to public (government) entities, but are also required for civil (private) operations.
  • The FAA thoroughly evaluates each COA application to determine the safety of the proposal.
  • COAs are issued for a specific period of time, usually two years, and include special provisions unique to each proposal, such as a defined block of airspace and time of day UAS can be used.

How to apply for a COA

  • Visit the FAA website for information on how to apply for a COA online.
  • A sample application can be viewed here.
  • Since 2009, the FAA has taken steps to streamline the application process by transitioning online.
  • The average COA processing time is less than 60 days.
  • Expedited authorization is available in emergency and life-threatening situations.

For more information, visit the following sources:

https://www.faa.gov/uas/model_aircraft/
https://www.faa.gov/uas/publications/model_aircraft_operators/
http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/
https://www.youtube.com/user/FAAnews

 

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United Kingdom Regulations

United Kingdom (CAA):

Safety Guidelines for drones weighing 20kg or less:

  • You are legally responsible for the safe conduct of each flight. Take time to understand the rules - failure to comply could lead to a criminal prosecution.
  • It is illegal to fly your unmanned aircraft over a congested area (streets, towns and cities) or large gatherings such as concerts and sports events . Also, stay well clear of airports and airfields.
  • Always keep your drone away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields
  • Before each flight check that your unmanned aircraft is not damaged, and that all components are working in accordance with the Supplier’s User Manual.
  • Don’t fly your unmanned aircraft within 50m of a person, vehicle, building or structure, or overhead groups of people at any height.
  • You must keep the unmanned aircraft within your sight at all times and don't fly higher than 400 feet
  • Think about what you do with any images you obtain as you may breach privacy laws. Details are available from the Information Commissioner's Office.
  • You are responsible for avoiding collisions with other people or objects - including aircraft. Do not fly your unmanned aircraft in any way that could endanger people or property
  • If you intend to use an unmanned aircraft for any kind of commercial activity, you must get a ‘Permission’ from the Civil Aviation Authority, or you could face prosecution

Permission is not required for aircraft of 20 kg mass or less being flown within direct unaided line of sight and away from people, property and congested areas. 

Permission to operate a sUAS for 'aerial work' is required from the CAA.
Special permission is also needed to fly a SUAS commercially or recreationally outside of the operating limits set out in the Air Navigation Order - this includes flights in congested areas.

For more details, visit www.caa.co.uk/uas

Jonathan's picture
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Singapore Regulations

* LAST UPDATED Jan 26, 2016 *

Singapore (Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore)

Operator and Activity Permits required

For any purpose - drone over 7kg in total weight
For any business purpose (i.e. Commercial activities or Specialized services) including if not Recreation or Research in nature - drone of any weight

No permit required

For Recreation or Research, weight up to 7kg

* However, an Activity Permit (only) is required if the unmanned aircraft is flown outdoors:

  • in a Restricted or Danger Area; or
  • within 5km of an aerodrome/military airbase regardless of operating height, or above 200 feet beyond 5km of an aerodrome/military airbase

Note: In all the above operational scenarios, if the unmanned aircraft is flown indoors at a private residence, or indoor area used for the purpose of constructing or testing unmanned aircraft and accessible only to the persons involved, and the flying does not affect at all the general public, no permits are required.

Additional permits will be required if:
(a) There is discharging or dropping of substances/items from the unmanned aircraft.
(b) The radio frequencies and power limits used for operating the unmanned aircraft do not comply with IDA’s guidelines on radio frequencies and power limits for short range devices.
(c) The unmanned aircraft is flown over Protected Areas [i.e. security-sensitive locations gazetted as such and their immediate vicinity (defined by a lateral limit of 150m from the perimeter of a designated location)]. 
- The specific locations of these Protected Areas, as and when they are declared by the Minister for Transport, will be published in the Government Gazette and on the OneMap portal .
(d) Photographs (including videoing and live-streaming) of a Protected Area are taken using the unmanned aircraft.
(e) The unmanned aircraft is flown in Special Event Areas as declared by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the POA.

What are the different types of permits?
(1) Operator Permit 
An Operator Permit is granted by CAAS to an applicant if the applicant is able to ensure safe operation of unmanned aircraft, taking into account the applicant’s organisational set-up, competency of the personnel especially those flying the unmanned aircraft, procedures to manage safety including the conduct of safety risk assessments, and the airworthiness of each of the aircraft. The permit is valid for up to one year.

(2) Activity Permit
An Activity Permit is granted by CAAS to an applicant for a single activity or a block of repeated activities to be carried out by an unmanned aircraft at a specific area of operation, and which are of specific operational profiles and conditions.

(3) Other Permits
Other permits are required from various agencies for certain aspects of the unmanned aircraft operation that come under their purview, such as Singapore Police Force (SPF) for aerial photography and/or overflight of security-sensitive locations, or Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) for the use of radio frequencies.

How can I apply for a permit?
You can apply for a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore at http://www.caas.gov.sg/caas/en/eServices_Forms/Application_for_Aerial_Activities

For more details, visit https://www.caas.gov.sg/caas/en/ANS/unmanned-aircraft.html

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Canada vs US Infographic from Dronelife

Here's a great Infographic from DroneLife (http://dronelife.com/2016/02/12/drone-regulations-canada-vs-us-an-infogr...) comparing the current regulations between Canada and US