Rules, Ethics, and Safety

Due to the nature of Orienteering, participants are often on their own and can not easily be monitored by officials. Competitors may report other competitors if a blatant violation has been noticed (ie. travelling out of bounds), but this is not common. Therefore, the onus is placed upon the individual participant to ensure they abide by the rules to promote fairness and honesty within the sport.

The Canadian Orienteering Federation Rule Book contains complete rules and regulations for all Orienteering events. Listed below are some fundamental rules of conduct which will make Orienteering a safe, pleasant and positive experience for everyone.

Punching a control

Ethical Considerations

  • Orienteers should not follow other participants.
  • Orienteers should not discuss the course with other participants while still on the course.
  • Orienteers who ask for help should be shown their location on the map and then reported to an Official at the Finish.
  • Orienteers who have finished a course should not divulge information about the course, map or terrain to others who have not yet started.
  • Orienteers shall respect the land and wilderness environment.


  • Orienteers should wear protective clothing appropriate for the terrain and conditions.
  • Orienteers must carry a safety whistle during the event.
  • Orienteers must report to the Finish official whether they are finished the course or not, and must hand in their map to the Finish personnel.
  • Orienteers must aid any injured participants they encounter on their course.
  • Orienteers crossing roads or railways must observe traffic rules.
  • Orienteering oganizers should provide safety bearing information to all competitors.


  • Orienteers shall not damage, hide, or remove any controls during an event.
  • Orienteers may only use a compass plus the map provided by the organizer during the event.
  • Orienteers must visit the controls in the specified order in a point-to-point orienteering event.
  • Orienteers must not cross areas marked on the map as uncrossable or out-of-bounds.
  • Orienteers shall not damage property such as fences, gates or equipment.
  • Orienteers shall not cross through gardens, or fields with newly planted or growing crops.