Flying As A Foreign Operator
CHANGES AS OF MARCH 9, 2020
Recreational flying by foreign pilots is now restricted due to the number of applications received by Transport Canada.
If you are 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 want to fly in Canadian airspace), you must have an approved SFOC to fly a drone for any purpose (recreational, work or research).
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.
Please note, we are currently not accepting SFOC applications from visitors to Canada looking to fly recreationally. This change does not affect foreigners requesting a SFOC for commercial purposes. This temporary restriction will be re-evaluated in January 2021. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Some options instead:
- Provide evidence that the flying you’ll be doing is commercial in nature
- Fly an RPAS that weights under 250g such as the DJI Mavic Mini
If you will be flying a Mavic Mini or other very small RPAS in Canada, it’s important to note that you must still use common sense and not cause a hazard to other airspace users or to people on the ground. This falls under Canadian Aviation Regulation 900.06 and applies to all RPAS pilots, regardless of intent of operation or country of origin.
To fly commercially as a foreign pilot in Canada, read below for the steps and a link to our TP15263 compliant training course.
IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK
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 infomation.
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:
TAKE A GROUND SCHOOL
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.
FILL OUT AN SFOC APPLICATION
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.