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).
On this page
- Who needs to apply
- What you need to fly in lower-risk environments
- Compliance checklists
- After you apply
- Guides and help
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:
- have a drone Pilot Certificate for basic or advanced operations (see Compliance checklists for required qualification)
- gather the documentation specified in the Compliance checklist
- complete an Application for a Special Flight Operations Certificate form (PDF, 1.2 MB)
- send us your SFOC-RPAS application form and documents by email to: TC.RPASCentre-CentreSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca
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:
- Fly within 5.6 km (3 NM) of a military aerodrome – Request a copy of 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 – Request a copy of 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 – Request a copy of Fly at an advertised event
- Organize an RPA special aviation event – Request a copy of Organize an RPA special aviation event
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
- Canadian Aviation Regulations - Part IX
- Advisory Circular (AC) 903-002 - Application Guidelines for a SFOC-RPAS
- Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual - Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Chapter
Guidance for inspectors
- Staff Instructions (SI) 903-002: Processing of an Application for a SFOC-RPAS
- Internal Process Bulletin (IPB) 2021-03: Supporting Guidance to SI 903-002 – Processing of an Application for a SFOC-RPAS