Can a Foreigner
Get a Drone
Certificate in Canada?

Last edited on January 24th 2023

Are Foreign Drone Pilots Allowed to Operate in Canada?

Yes, foreign drone pilots can get a Canadian drone operators certificate. In Canada, the use of drones, or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), is regulated by Transport Canada. Foreign drone pilots are required to have a Canadian RPAS operators certificate and must follow the same regulations as Canadian operators. Additionally, foreign operators must have an approved special flight operations certificate (SFOC) before flying any drone that weighs above 250 grams in Canada.

Foreign drone pilots in Canada are required to obtain a Canadian RPAS operators certificate and an SFOC from Transport Canada in order to legally operate drones in the country.

Who Does This Apply To?

Anyone without a Canadian Passport looking to fly drones above 250 grams inside Canada for any purpose.

Canada's Requirements for Foreign Drone Pilots

  • Obtain a drone operators certificate.
  • Obtain a special flight operations certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada.
  • Comply with all applicable regulations in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).
  • Operate in accordance with any conditions or limitations specified in the SFOC.

You must provide Transport Canada with your details, information about your drone, and the planned operation. Foreign operators must also demonstrate that they have the knowledge, skills, and experience to safely operate the drone.

Applying for an SFOC

You must include the following information:

  • a) the legal name, trade name, address and contact information of the applicant;
  • b) the means by which the person responsible for the operation or the pilot may be contacted directly during operations;
  • c) the operation for which the application is made;
  • d) the purpose of the operation;
  • e) the dates, alternate dates and times of the operation;
  • f) the manufacturer and model of the system, and user manual;
  • g) a description of the safety plan for the proposed area of operation;
  • h) a description of the emergency contingency plan for the operation;
  • i) a detailed plan describing how the operation is to be carried out;
  • j) the names, certificates, licenses, permits and qualifications of the crew members, including the pilots and visual observers, and the remotely piloted aircraft system maintenance personnel;
  • k) the instructions regarding the maintenance of the system and a description of how that maintenance will be performed;
  • l) a description of weather minima for the operation;
  • m) a description of separation and collision avoidance capability and procedures;
  • n) a description of normal and emergency procedures for the operation;
  • o) a description of air traffic control services coordination, if applicable; and
  • p) any other information requested by the Minister pertinent to the safe conduct of the operation.

You usually cannot fit all this information onto the SFOC application form. Creating a Flight Operations Manual (FOM) is a great way to organise the information to make it easier for Transport Canada to review.

Example Table of Contents for a FOM:

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Maintenance Procedures
  • Safety Plan
  • Pilot Competency
  • ATC Coordination
  • Appendix A: Flight Logs
  • Appendix B: Home Country Drone License
  • Appendix C: Crew Fitness

If you feel stuck and need help with your FOM, FlightPhoto can help give you the best possible chance of receiving an approval for your SFOC application. Feel free to reach out using the contact information at the bottom of this page.

As a foreign drone pilot, you need a Canadian drone pilot certificate to operate in Canada and you must already be allowed to use the drone for the same purpose in your home country. There are two Canadian RPAS operators certificates to choose from; basic or advanced. People often call the certificate a drone license. To learn more about the differences between the basic and advanced certificates click here. To learn more about how to get your drone certificate click here.

In conclusion, foreign drone pilots in Canada are required to obtain a Canadian RPAS operators certificate and an SFOC from Transport Canada in order to legally operate drones in the country. They must also operate within the conditions and limitations specified in the SFOC. In order to apply for an SFOC, foreign operators must provide detailed information about the drone, the operator, and the planned operation, as well as demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience in operating drones safely.

View the SFOC Application Form