Get permission to fly your drone outside the rules (new rules)

If you want to fly your drone outside the rules, 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 in the following cases:

  • You want to fly your drone outside the rules for basic or advanced operations
  • Your drone weighs over 25 kilograms (kg)
  • You are not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada or a corporation incorporated by or under the laws of Canada or a province

You do not need this certificate if:

  • you are flying your drones within the rules for basic or advanced operations, and
  • your drone weighs under 25 kg

Note: getting an SFOC is no longer a prerequisite for commercial operations. However, commercial operators still need an SFOC if their operation falls into one of the categories above.

How to apply

To apply for this certificate:

  1. Read and understand all information in the Special Flight Operations Certificate guidance advisory circular
  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 the Civil Aviation regional office in the region where you intend to fly your drone

Apply as early as possible before you plan to use your drone. Your application may take longer to process if it is missing information or if we receive a large number of applications.

Qualify for a standing certificate

If you show a track record of safe flying, you may qualify for a standing Special Flight Operations Certificate.

We keep all issued certificates on file, which allows us to see an applicant’s history. There’s no set number of regular certificates you must get before applying for a standing certificate. We won’t issue you a standing certificate if you haven’t applied for and received a regular certificate in the past. Your eligibility depends on factors like:

  • pilot qualifications and experience
  • knowledge of relevant regulations and Canadian airspace
  • your ability to identify and mitigate risks

For more information, read the:

You will also need to read TP15263 Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Small Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems 250 g up to and including 25 kg, Operating within Visual Line-of-Sight (VLOS).

If you still have questions, contact the Civil Aviation regional office in the area where you operate your drone.

Foreign operators

Extra rules apply if you're a foreign operator (that is, you are not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a corporation incorporated by or under federal or provincial and you fly in Canadian airspace). You must have an approved SFOC to fly a drone for any purpose.

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.

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