Flying As A Foreign Operator
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.
BASIC OR ADVANCED
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, 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 a flight school that is comparable to the one a Canadian would need to undergo the same flight. So, if you want to fly in areas that would normally need a basic certification in order to fly, you will need to take a ground school that prepares you with the same skills you would need for a basic certification. Flights under advanced certification conditions will need a comparable training to that of a advanced certification.
If you are looking for a basic certification style course, Coastal Drone Co has an all online course for Foreign Pilots designed specifically 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.
If you are looking to fly in advanced environments, our Advanced Online Bundle can be used for the same purpose. You’ll also need to complete an in-person flight assessment.
While you can’t take the actual Transport Canada exam, you are required to take an equivalent exam to show that you understand the principles taught to you in ground school. For advanced certification, you will need to complete the exam prep course (included with the purchase of advanced ground school bundle) and complete the final quiz portion in under an hour. Once you successfully complete your exam, send us an email and we will verify that you have completed the course correctly. Once we verify your completion we can write Transport Canada a letter saying that you have completed an appropriate exam and that you have the knowledge needed to fly advanced operations.
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!
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.