Flying As A Foreign Operator
July 11, 2019

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Flying As A Foreign Operator

by | Jul 11, 2019 | Blog


1. Take a 20-hour TP15263 compliant ground school
2. Apply for your SFOC with your ground school certificate
– Use this checklist to support your SFOC application!


There’s really only two steps. To fly in Canada as a foreign operator you need an SFOC-RPAS. To get an SFOC-RPAS you need proof of meeting the knowledge requirements. For advanced operations, like those that will take place in the red circles on this map, read on for more information.

If you will be flying a Mavic Mini or other microdrone (under 250g) in Canada, it’s important to note that you do not require an SFOC-RPAS though must still use common sense and not cause a hazard to other airspace users or to people on the ground.


As home to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet, it’s no surprise that Canada attracts thousands of visitors every year. When you visit, it can be tempting to want to get some amazing footage by drone, but make sure that you are aware of the Canadian regulations before you start firing up your propellers.
Currently, Canadian residents need to take either the Basic or Advanced RPAS pilot exams depending on the type of flying they plan to do (more info here). Unfortunately, at this time, these exams can only be taken by Canadians. This may leave visitors wondering if they there is even a way to legally fly their drone in Canada. While the process for foreign pilots is a little more complicated, it is still possible to get permission to fly if you follow the right steps.

Fortunately, Coastal Drone Co is here to help walk you through the process and make sure you have the knowledge you need for your visit to the great white north! If you follow these steps, you will be set up with permission and ready to fly in no time:


In order to fly your drone in Canada, you are going to need to prove that you have taken ground school training that meets the Canadian requirements for RPAS pilots (TP15263). A requirement of TP 15263 is that the course is at least 20-hours in length. 

Coastal Drone Co has an all-online course for foreign visitors to Canada! Upon completion of the course, which you can do from anywhere, you will receive a certificate of completion that can be used to prove to Transport Canada that you have taken the appropriate course.


Once you have proof that you can fly safely, your final step will to be file for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). The SFOC will allow you to fly for the duration of your trip at the locations that you specify when you apply. Unlike a pilot’s certificate, the Special Flight Operations Certificate is limited to certain locations and times, but as long as you specify everywhere you plan on flying beforehand it should be enough to allow you to fly for the entirety of your visit. If you need a hand with filing an SFOC, Coastal Drone Co is more than happy to help with that as well! Check out our guide to SFOC application completion here.

If your operations will take you into advanced environments, you will also need to complete a flight review while you’re in Canada. This is an in-person assessment of your knowledge, documentation and flight skill. Check out our video here for more information! To schedule a foreign pilot flight review with Coastal Drone, send an email to [email protected].


Once you finish these steps, you will be set to do all the flying you want on your visit up to Canada! It’s important to remember that most SFOCs only last for a limited amount of time, so if you are visiting the country more than once, you may need to file again for each trip you do. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and we will be more than happy to answer your questions.



Fly safely!


Want to learn more?

This content and more is covered extensively in our five-star online drone pilot ground school. We offer both Basic and Advanced online training courses to help you get ready for the Transport Canada online exams at your own pace from the comfort of your home.


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