Getting permission to fly your drone

From Transport Canada

Flying a drone for work, research, or as a hobby? You may need special permission from Transport Canada. Learn about the requirements on this page.

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About the Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC)

The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) require unmanned air vehicle (UAV) operators to apply for SFOCs so Transport Canada can ensure operators use their UAV reliably and safely.

Each SFOC contains conditions for where and how to fly, such as:

  • maximum altitudes
  • minimum distances from people and property
  • coordination requirements with air traffic services

Read about SFOC requirements in detail by referring to these sections of the regulations:

For more information about how to get an SFOC, see Applying for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).

Qualifying for an exemption

Two exemptions allow non-recreational operators to conduct lower risk operation in more remote areas without the need to apply for an SFOC.

Although most UAV operators will need to hold an SFOC, some may benefit from these exemptions. Our infographic, Flying an unmanned aircraft?, will help you understand if you need an SFOC or if you qualify to operate under one of the exemptions.

To operate under an exemption, you must meet all safety conditions outlined in one of the following:

If you cannot meet all of these requirements, you need an SFOC to legally operate your UAV. This infographic, Do I qualify under the UAV exemptions?, provides a quick overview of the areas where you must fly under the exemptions. You must refer to the official exemption documents and comply with the entire list of conditions.

Exemption for: How to qualify?
UAVs that weigh one kg or less
  1. Read the Exemption for UAVs that weigh one kg or less.
  2. Ensure you meet all safety conditions outlined in the exemption.
  3. Notify Transport Canada that you qualify under this exemption by completing and submitting the Exemption Notification Form.
  4. Fly safely.
UAVs that weigh above one kg (up to and including 25 kg)
  1. Read the Exemption for UAVs above one kg (up to and including 25 kg).
  2. Ensure you meet all safety conditions outlined in the exemption.
  3. Notify Transport Canada that you qualify under this exemption by completing and submitting the Exemption Notification Form.
  4. Fly safely.

Advisory Circular (AC) 600-004—Guidance material for operating unmanned air vehicle systems under an exemption provides additional guidance on the UAV exemptions as well as detailed information on each of the safety conditions. It is highly recommended that you review the AC before operating under either exemption.

Training required to fly a UAV under the exemptions

Each exemption has specific training requirements. For example, to fly a UAV that weighs above two kg up to and including 25 kg without an SFOC, the UAV pilot must be trained to understand:

  • airspace classification and structure
  • weather and notice to airmen (NOTAM) reporting services
  • aeronautical charts and the Canada Flight Supplement
  • relevant sections of the CARs

For more information, read the knowledge requirements for UAV pilots.

Exemption notification form

To qualify to operate under either of the UAV exemptions, you must comply with all the safety conditions contained in the applicable exemption and provide Transport Canada with the following information prior to flight:

I confirm that:

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