How to Get Your Basic Pilot Certificate
July 5, 2019

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How to Get Your Basic Pilot Certificate

If you are someone who enjoys flying drones, you’ve probably been looking forward to summer all year long!

As the good weather approaches, flying conditions get better, the weather gets more reliable, and the opportunity to do cool things with your RPAS is always nearby.

You should know that as of 2019 Transport Canada released new regulations that affect all RPAS pilots including you.

If you aren’t familiar with the rules, it can be difficult to understand exactly what kind of certification you need for the flights you want to do.

Fortunately, we at Coastal Drone Co. have put together a handy guide to help you learn exactly what you need to get ready to fly!

RPAS certification has been split into two categories depending on the type of flying you plan to do.

We will be covering the basic certification here. If you’re looking for information on the advanced certification, it can be found here

Basic Certification

If you aren’t flying too near to people or in controlled airspace, the basic certification is probably all you’ll need. A basic certification comes with some restrictions on where you can fly, but for many pilots, it will be all they need to do the flying they want. If you have your basic certification, you can fly anywhere you want as long as you are:

  • More than 30m (100 feet) away from any bystanders
  • Not in controlled airspace
  • Never flying over bystanders

If the flights you plan to do meet these requirements, then the basic certification is the one for you. Follow the steps below to get the basic certification you need:

1. Register your RPAS

The first step you need to do before you fly this summer is to register your drone with Transport Canada. Registering is a quick process that only costs $5 to complete. Once you have registered, you will be given an identification number that you need to put somewhere on your drone. This will allow your drone to be identified in the event of a flyaway or accident. This identification number is required by law, so make sure you get one before you fly. You can register your drone here

2. Take RPAS Ground School Basic:

The basic ground school takes about 2-3 hours and will teach you everything you need to know to be a successful and safe drone pilot.

It teaches all the topics that you are mandated to know by Transport Canada, so you’ll know you have the knowledge you need to be successful.

Our basic ground school also includes an exam prep package.

Exam Prep is geared more toward passing the exam than ground school.

You’ll get a summary of the new regulations in plain language and some sample questions to prepare with the right answer explained so you learn as you go.

While not as in-depth as ground school, exam prep covers some of the nitty gritty items you’ll find on the exam. Our basic ground school can be found here

3. Take the Transport Canada Exam

Once ground school is done, all that is left is to take the exam!

The exam contains 35 multiple-choice questions and it gives you 90 minutes to complete them.

You need at least 65% to pass.

Many people find the exam challenging, but you are free to retake it after 24 hours and it only costs $10 to take, so failure isn’t the end of the world.

You can take the exam here

4. Go Out and Fly!

Congratulations!! You did it!

Once your exam is done, you will receive a certificate of completion that will allow you to fly your drone anywhere that qualifies for basic operations!

You must keep a copy if it is ready to present any time you fly.

Police officers may ask to see your license and can charge you a hefty fine if they find that you don’t have one.


And with that, you are all prepared to fly your drone all summer long! If you find the limitations of basic certification too restrictive, you can always upgrade to the advanced certification to get even more freedom in where you can fly! A guide to getting it can be found here. Have fun and fly safe!

Watch this sample lesson from our Basic Pilot Certification Course

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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