Foreign pilots and operators must have a valid Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) to fly a drone for any purpose (recreational, work or research).
You are considered a foreign pilot or operator if you are not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a corporation incorporated by or under federal or provincial law.
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.
On this page
- What you need to apply
- Flying beyond basic or advanced operations
- Registering your drone as a foreign pilot or operator
- Drones under 250 g
- After you apply
- Guides and help
What you need to apply
Foreign pilots need to have a Canadian drone pilot certificate to apply for a SFOC-RPAS.
Getting your drone pilot certificate
Find your category of operation to understand which certificate you need and how to get it.
For basic operations, successfully pass the basic exam to get your Pilot Certificate - Small RPA - Basic Operations, then apply for your SFOC-RPAS.
For advanced operations, successfully pass the advanced exam , then apply for your SFOC-RPAS before your flight review (this may take up to 30 working days). Pass the flight review and apply for your Pilot Certificate - Small RPA - Advanced Operations.
Learn more about getting a drone pilot certificate.
Apply for your SFOC-RPAS
- complete an Application for a SFOC-RPAS form (PDF, 1.2 MB)
- send us your SFOC-RPAS application form and documents by email to: TC.RPASCentre-CentreSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca
Upgrading from Basic
If you already have an SFOC-RPAS for foreign pilot and want to upgrade your basic pilot certificate to advanced, successfully pass the “RPAS - Advanced Operations” written exam and a flight review. The SFOC-RPAS for foreign pilot you got earlier is valid for your flight review and for advanced operations once your advanced pilot certification is obtained. There is no need to apply for a new COAS-SATP once the advanced level certification is obtained.
Flying beyond basic or advanced operations
If your drone operations would normally require an SFOC-RPAS (even as a Canadian), you will need to:
- have your Canadian basic or advanced drone pilot certificate rated for the planned operation (see process above)
- follow the steps for applying for an SFOC-RPAS for operations in higher-risks environments or for operations in low-risk environments
Registering your drone as a foreign pilot or operator
Foreign pilots or operators can’t register drones. You need an SFOC-RPAS to comply with CARs regulations.
Drones under 250 g
Foreign drone pilots or operators do not need special permission for fly drones under 250 g. You still need to follow all safety guidelines for micro drones (under 250 g).
After you apply
It may take up to 30 working days to review and issue an SFOC-RPAS for low-risk operations. Actual processing times can vary depending on the complexity and completeness of the request. Accepted SFOC-RPAS applications will be done in the order received. SFOC’s should be issued within the 30-working day window, assuming the applicant responds to additional requests in a timely manner.
SFOC-RPAS Application received with less then 30 working days advanced notice will not be accepted. If the requested window is longer term (say from today for 1 full year), the SFOC-RPAS application will be accepted.
A foreign pilot is usually issued an SFOC-RPAS valid for one year.
Guides and help
- Fly your drone safely and legally
- Advisory Circular (AC) 903-002 - Application Guidelines for a SFOC-RPAS
- Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual - Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Chapter
- Canadian Aviation Regulations - Part IX