The below list contains step-by-step instructions for requesting FAA authorization to operate a UAS for civil (non-governmental) purposes other than for recreation or hobby.
- Review the FAA's Guidelines for Submitting a Petition for Exemption.
This website details the general exemption process for filing any petition for exemption, and it provides answers to frequently asked questions.
- Review the Section 333 Guidance (PDF) from the FAA's UAS Integration Office.
This document describes what information petitioners should submit specifically to request FAA authorization to operate a UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS).
- Prepare your petition for filing. Before filing your petition, review our Section 333 Checklist and Guidance (PDF) to ensure your petition contains all the necessary information.
- When you have verified that all the necessary information is included, file your petition for exemption on the public docket. This docket has been created exclusively for the submission of Section 333 petitions. Submission instructions are available here (PDF).
The FAA will jointly issue a "blanket" COA for flights at or below 400 feet to all UAS operators with a Section 333 exemption. View a copy of this "blanket" COA, including operating conditions and limitations (PDF).
Any operator with a valid Section 333 grant of exemption can operate using this COA, unless it conflicts with their grant of exemption.
After receiving a grant of exemption, petitioners who want to fly outside these blanket parameters will be eligible to apply for a separate "full" COA specific to the airspace required for their operation. Applications for a "full" COA MUST be submitted through the UAS Civil COA Portal. DO NOT submit the COA application to the public docket. The FAA will ONLY accept and process complete COA applications.
COA applications MUST include:
- An exemption number – corresponding to the Federal Register Docket ID for your petition for exemption
- A registration number – all aircraft must be registered with the FAA to be issued a COA
NOTE: the COA application process is separate from the petition for exemption process. The COA process makes applicable FAA Air Traffic Control facilities aware of proposed UAS operations, and provides the FAA the ability to consider airspace issues unique to UAS operations. Both the COA application and the petition for exemption should be submitted under the same name/company name.
Questions about the COA APPLICATION process should be directed to
- Section 333 FAQs
- Guidelines for Submitting a Petition for Exemption
- Section 333 Guidance (PDF)
- Instructions for filing a petition for exemption on the public docket (PDF)
- Aircraft registration instructions
- Press release for streamlined COA procedures
- "Blanket" COA for flights below 400 feet (PDF)
- UAS Civil COA Portal
- SAMPLE Civil COA application (PDF)