Get permission for special drone operations - lower-risk operations

To get permission for lower-risk specific drone flight operations, you will need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).

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Who needs to apply

An SFOC-RPAS gives you permission to operate your drone for a specific purpose. You need this certificate if you want to fly your drone beyond the rules for basic or advanced operations in any of these special lower-risk environments or conditions:

  • Fly within 5.6 km (3 NM) of a military aerodrome
  • Fly more than five RPAs at the same time from a single control station and at more than 9.3 km (5 NM) of an aerodrome in uncontrolled airspace
  • Fly at an advertised event
  • Organize an RPA special aviation event

If you are a foreign pilot, please start at Get permission to fly your drone as a foreign pilot or operator.

Learn more about special drone operations in higher-risks environments.

What you need to fly in lower-risk environments

To get your SFOC-RPAS, you will need to:

Compliance checklists

In your application, you will need to document in detail

  • the purpose of the planned RPAS operation
  • RPA pilot qualifications
  • procedures for RPAS operation and maintenance
  • description of the weather minima for the RPAS operation
  • separation and collision avoidance procedures
  • description of air traffic control services coordination
  • and more depending on the complexity of the planned RPAS operation

Request a Compliance checklist

Request the Compliance checklist that best describes your proposed operation:

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 regional inspector may contact applicants for additional information during the review process.

Guides and help

Guidance for inspectors

Contact us

Telephone: 1-800-305-2059