Everybody and their dog seems to own one of these. Can you guess what it is?

 That’s right… a Drone.

But, can anybody fly them anywhere? Not exactly! Here are some safety tips for flying your UAV and some other things you should know about flying UAV’s for Real Estate such as the Legal Status, Certification, Restrictions and More.

UAV Use for Real Estate


For the past few years, drones have been growing in popularity. Now, because of the ease of use and technology that is present in higher end drones they are being used as gifts for children, but by all means, they are not kids toys.

By operating a UAV you instantly enter into “Airspace” the same airspace used for emergency helicopters and commercial and recreational planes. While most of these vehicles fly at altitudes above 500ft over the ground, within city limits or close to airports it is much lower than that. 

This is why Transport Canada now has laws surrounding UAV use for both Recreational and Commercial Purposes. The requirements for Recreational Drone Flights (flying for fun, not profit) would be:

Rules for Flying your Drone Recreationally:

  • You must below 90 m above the ground
  • Fly at least 30 m away from vehicles, vessels and the public (if your drone weighs over 250 g and up to 1 kg)
  • Fly least 75 m away from vehicles, vessels and the public (if your drone weighs over 1 kg and up to 35 kg)
  • Be least 5.5 km away from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft take off and land)
  • Be least 1.8 km away from heliports or aerodromes used by helicopters only
  • Must Fly outside of controlled or restricted airspace
  • Must Fly least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area
  • Be Far Enough away from areas where drone use could interfere with police or first responders
  • Must be during the day and not in clouds
  • Keep your Drone within your sight at all times
  • Keep your Drone within 500 m of yourself
  • Only Fly if your Drone is clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number

But before you go out and buy yourself a drone to go use in your own real estate business, you first need to realize that you will no longer be flying purely for fun, so the above rules do not apply to you, but rather commercial rules would apply which leads us into the commercial use requirements.

Commercial Use Requirements:

There are many different requirements that commercial UAV Pilots need to meet in order to fly commercially, but if you are looking to get permission from transport Canada to fly commercially here is what you need:

  • First, you need to attend a UAV ground school that meets the Transport Canada Knowledge Requirements and obtain a Certificate of Achievement from that ground school.
  • Second, you need to have UAV specific Liability Insurance of at least $500,000 but most insurance companies will only write policies of $1,000,000+ 
  • Third, you need to apply for a Simplified SFOC (Special Flight Operations Certificate) which details your flight plan, proposed area of operations, and ensures that you have property owner permission to Launch, Fly-Over, and Land on the Property. This is good for only 1 property and takes approximately 1 month to obtain approval from transport Canada. You will need to apply for one of these for each property you list so you can build up enough experience and a reputation with transport Canada at which point you can apply for a standing SFOC.
  • After approximately 5-10 hours of tracked flight time, you can then safely assume that you have enough experience to apply for a STANDING SFOC. This certificate will allow you to forgo the approval process for every property, and allow you to fly under certain conditions.

With that being said, it is often times much easier and faster to hire out a currently licensed Drone Service like Gravidia so that you can get your property shot and have the drone visuals for when you list it.

Possible Penalties:

If you decide that you are going to break the law, and fly for commercially as an unlicensed pilot, here are the risks you are taking…

  • If you fly your drone recreationally where you are not allowed, or break any of the rules in the Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft, you may be fined up to $3,000
  • If you fly a drone without a certificate and should have one, Transport Canada may fine you up to $5,000 for a person and $25,000 for a corporation
  • If you do not follow the rules of your SFOC, Transport Canada may fine up to $3,000 for a person and $15,000 for a corporation

Qualifying and Selecting A UAV Pilot

So if you want to have Aerial Shots of your Listing, but don’t want to go through the lengthy and expensive process of getting certified, buying the drone, insurance.

Here is how you can simply and easily determine whether a pilot is qualified and licensed to shoot your listing.

  1. Ask them where they completed their Ground School. If they can’t tell you, then they are definitely not certified. At Gravidia, our pilots go through Harv’s Air Online Ground School which is the equivalent of a University Course on Flight Safety, UAV Regulations, Flight Crew Requirements and so much more.
  2. Ask how much Liability Insurance they carry for their UAV. At Gravidia, we carry a $1,000,000 Policy to protect from Damages to your clients home, and have never had to use it.
  3. Ask if they have an SFOC and are willing to show it to you. (Pertinent LAW: This SFOC must be at easy access to the pilot at all times during the flight.) At Gravidia, our pilots carry digitized copies of their SFOCs and Insurance so that they are always on their person, ready for any Transport Canada Inspector, Peace Office, or Police Office that requests to see them.

If you ask these three questions, and they provide you with acceptable answers, have their insurance and SFOC then you are safe to hire them for your next listing. If they don’t provide you with these answers, don’t have an SFOC, or Don’t have liability insurance… Then you always have the friendly Drone Pilots at Gravidia.