Get permission for special drone operations

If you want to get permission for special drone flight operations, you will need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).

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Who needs to apply

An SFOC gives you permission to operate your drone outside the rules for a specific purpose. You need this certificate if you want to fly your drone outside the rules for basic or advanced operations.

An SFOC is required if:

  • you are a foreign operator (that is, not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada or a corporation incorporated by or under the laws of Canada or a province)
  • you want to fly at a special aviation event or an advertised event
  • you want to fly closer to a military airport
  • you want to fly your drone beyond visual line-of-sight
  • your drone weighs over 25 kilograms (kg)
  • you want to fly your drone at higher altitudes
  • you want to fly your drone carrying dangerous or hazardous payloads (e.g. chemicals)
  • you want to fly more than five drones at the same time

Foreign operators

If you are a foreign operator (that is, you are not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a corporation incorporated by or under federal or provincial law and you want to fly in Canadian airspace), you must have an approved SFOC to fly a drone for any purpose (recreational, work or research).

As a foreign drone pilot, you need a Canadian drone pilot certificate to operate in Canada even if you are authorized in your home country.

For basic operations, you will need to pass the online exam to receive your Pilot Certificate – Basic operations. For advanced operations, you will need to:

  • pass the online exam for advanced operations
  • complete a flight review and apply for your Pilot Certificate – Advanced operations, or provide proof of having booked a flight review with a drone flight school once you’ve arrived in Canada

You must already be allowed to use the drone for the same purpose in your home country. Include your country’s approval or authorization with your application for the SFOC.

How to apply

To apply for this certificate:

  1. Access the Drone Management Portal to pass an exam and obtain a drone pilot certificate for the type of operation you wish to perform if you do not already have one.
  2. Complete an Application for a Special Flight Operations Certificate form (PDF, 1.2 MB) and gather the documentation specified in the application
  3. Send the form and documents to:
    Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Centre of Expertise
    700, Leigh-Capreol Place Dorval, Quebec H4Y 1G7
    Email: TC.RPASCentre-CentreSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca

After you apply

It may take up to 30 business days to review and issue an SFOC. Actual processing times can vary depending on the complexity and completeness of the request.