How to apply for a drone pilot license & RPA Operator Certificate in the Philippines

If you want to go pro and prove your skills, then you need to get certified and get a license

Anybody can buy a drone today and fly (with limits) – no license or training required.

It’s extremely easy to get into unmanned aerial vehicles and remotely piloted aircraft as a hobby because our drone laws in the Philippines are more lenient and generous than most other countries.

But if you want to get serious and promote yourself as a skilled professional pilot and operator, then you need to get certified.

 

What are the drone licenses and certificates in the Philippines?

Note that there is no formal “drone pilot license” in the Philippines. Instead, we have RPAS Certificates issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

There are currently 3 different certificates or “licenses” you can get:

RPAS Controller Certificate

This certificate is what you need to become a licensed UAV professional pilot.

The Civil Aviation of the Philippines (CAAP) awards this to any individual who completes formal drone pilot and safety training, and passes their knowledge and flight skills test.

RPAS Registration Certificate

This is the certificate you get when you register your aircraft and UAVs with the CAAP.

If you see a drone with big identification stickers and numbers like RP-0103819, then that means the owner has registered that drone with the authorities.

RPAS Operator Certificate

This authorizes businesses and organizations to provide commercial drone services by the CAAP, like aerial photography, drone survey mapping, pilot training courses, and agricultural surveys.

You need this if you want to start your own business and earn money flying drones.

How do I apply for the RPAS Controller Certificate and become a licensed pilot?

The process to get your drone pilot license is actually easy and simple, but it takes time. Processing is only 5 days, but the whole process from start to finish might take 1-3 weeks from start to finish because you need to complete training, pass 2 exams, and make multiple visits to the CAAP office.

Here’s our step by step infographic guide to help you get your RPAS Controller Certificate:

How to Apply for a Drone Pilot License in the Philippines

Philippine Drone Network Guide to Drone Licenses

1. Complete training from an authorized drone operator in the Philippines and ask for a formal training certificate

  • Make sure your trainer and their organization is recognized by the CAAP to provide commercial services. Ask them about their certifications.
  • Training should cover modern drone applications, safety and emergency procedures, flight techniques, compliance with local laws and regulations, and drone mechanics
  • It should include at least 5 hours of hands-on flight time

The Philippine Drone Network provides certified drone training on demand through our CAAP-authorized providers. Click here to inquire and get notified when public training opens again, or to schedule a private session for yourself or your group.

2. Fill out the CAAP Airman Personal License Form (also known as Form 542)

Download the form here from the CAAP website.

3. Print out the technical specifications and photos of your drone or UAV

Technical specifications can typically be found in your drone’s manual or downloaded from the manufacturer’s website (ex: DJI website)

Print at least 4 photos: top view, bottom view, side view, and front view.

4. Go to the CAAP office and submit your documents in person to the Licensing and Certification Department (LCD)

Compile your training certificate, filled out form, technical specifications, and photos in a folder to make it easy to check

  • Pay the necessary application fees (get drone certificate costs from the CAAP)
  • The CAAP office is located at OLD MIA Road in Pasay City. You can contact them at [email protected] or +63 2 7944-2142 or 7944-2143

When you submit your documents, you will get a Routing Slip from the licensing staff. They are extremely helpful and will guide you through the next steps that includes taking the knowledge exam.

5. Pass the knowledge exam and schedule a day for your skills test

After you pass the written test, you will be given a Knowledge Test Report. Submit this report to get yout Skills Test Permit and schedule.

6. Show up on your scheduled day and pass the Skills Test.

Bring the same drone that you submitted specifications and photos of in step #3.

7. Apply for your RPAS Controller Certificate and wait 5 days for processing

After you pass both tests, return to the CAAP and bring the following to formally apply for your drone license certification:

  • Knowledge Exam and Skills Test results
  • 2 1×1 pictures

You can pick up your certificate after 5 working days. You are now a licensed drone pilot!

 

What are the benefits of getting certified as a pilot?

We always recommend all drone hobbyists to register with the CAAP and get their RPAS Controller Certificate. The advantages include:

  • Get flight permits much easier in cities and provinces with local regulations that control who can fly or operate drones (ex: Boracay Island)
  • Gain confidence in your skills by learning safety and emergency procedures
  • Makes you understand the processes of the CAAP
  • Helps you fulfill requirements to get the RPAS Operator Certificate so you can provide commercial services like aerial photography and drone surveys
  • Helps you fill requirements to get the RPAS Registration Certificate so you can register your equipment and operate larger drones

May I use this infographic in my own website, social media, or publication?

Yes. You may display this infographic anywhere as long as you give proper credit.

Simply mention that this infographic was created by the Philippine Drone Network, and include a link to our website at https://philippinedronenetwork.com.ph.

Have questions?

We’re happy to help if you need extra clarifications or guidance. Leave a comment on this page or send us an email at [email protected].

You can also contact the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippine directly at +63 2 7944-2142 or 7944-2143.

Comments (48)

  • Michael Manuel Reply

    Wich drone we need to get a license ? Do i need to get a license for my dji mavic 2?

    March 17, 2021 at 12:42 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Michael. You can get a license for the mavic 2, but it’s not required unless you plan to offer commercial services.

      March 17, 2021 at 1:31 pm
  • josef Reply

    kung freelancer na may controller and registration certificates mula caap pwede na magtayo ng business?

    March 20, 2021 at 5:35 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Josef. Pwedeng pwede, pero kailangan rin magapply for Operator Certificate kapag may business registration na kayo sa DTI or SEC.

      March 21, 2021 at 1:11 pm
  • PJ Lossana Reply

    Dji Phantom needs to be registered?

    March 20, 2021 at 5:49 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi PJ. No you don’t need to register your drone if you’re using it as a hobby/recreationally, and as long as it weighs less than 7kg and you follow the CAAP’s limitations for recreational use.

      March 21, 2021 at 1:10 pm
  • Stephen C. Reply

    magkno po ang application fees kng mron?

    March 20, 2021 at 2:00 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Pwede ninyo tawagan ang CAAP para makuha ang latest application fees bago kayo magpunta sa office nila para magsubmit ng application. Baka kasi magbago ang fees.

      March 21, 2021 at 1:12 pm
  • Berb Reply

    Do you have a law or memo from CAAP that a trainer should be certified drone pilot or the organization should have a drone operator certificate?

    March 26, 2021 at 3:16 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Berb. Yes, the CAAP has regulations where it says RPAS certificates are required for any person or business who want to provide professional/commercial drone services. This is what section 11.11.4 of the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR) says: “No person may use an RPA in commercial operation unless he or she has obtained an RPA Controller Certificate.” Additionally section 11.11.6.4 says “No person may operate an RPA for commercial operations unless the person holds an RPAS Operator Certificate. Providing drone training services with fees is a commercial activity which means trainers need to be certified. You can download the entire PCAR document on the CAAP website https://caap.gov.ph/.

      March 26, 2021 at 3:38 pm
    • Glenn Reply

      Do I still need a certification for an agricultural drone for personal lot usage only?

      November 9, 2021 at 8:45 am
  • karl Reply

    ilang years valid po ito?

    March 27, 2021 at 9:00 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      5 years po ang unang certification.

      March 28, 2021 at 10:25 pm
  • Theo Sanvictorio Reply

    pano po yung mga nasa visayas? san pwde kumuha ng cert

    March 27, 2021 at 8:11 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Theo. Sa ngayon ay sa Pasay office lang pwede magapply para sa certificate. Pero pwede mo tawagan ang CAAP at tanungin kung meron silang tauhan sa lalawigan mo na pwede mong pasahan ng requirements.

      March 28, 2021 at 8:53 am
  • Joseph Robert Reply

    How much does all of it (tests + licensing) cost?

    March 27, 2021 at 9:53 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Joseph. It’s best to call CAAP (their number is in the post) to get their latest application and test fees. They’re very helpful and will answer any questions you might have.

      March 28, 2021 at 8:59 am
  • Napoleon Biron Reply

    Is there any SPECIFIC brands that you need in order to be certified for example DJI Mavic or does it also depend on how big and heavy your drone is like more than 500 grams?

    March 28, 2021 at 4:08 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Napoleon. You can use any drone brand in your application as long as it is safe to operate. If your drone is heavier than 7kg then you are required to register it and also get an RPAS Registration Certificate which has a different process from the RPAS Controller Certificate.

      March 28, 2021 at 8:49 am
  • Arthur Amora Reply

    Hi, ano po yung additional steps from getting RPAS Controller Certificate, then getting RPAS Operator Certificate?

    April 18, 2021 at 9:12 am
  • Joseph Senga Reply

    Is it impossible for an individual/freelance content creator to obtain an RPAS Operator Certificate? The requirements specifically ask for an organization. Let’s say you want to monetize a YouTube video, is that a dead end unless you have people to join/form a media group to apply?

    April 22, 2021 at 9:50 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Joseph. We recommend individuals to register themselves with DTI (application can be done online) if they want to take on freelance jobs and become a legitimate business. If you’re recording videos for your own use then it isn’t likely to be considered commercial use and doesn’t require certifications as long as you follow the CAAP’s limitations for recreational use.

      April 27, 2021 at 9:46 am
  • Herve Reply

    Is being a certified drone pilot by the FAA in the US can serve as a credential to get the RPAS certifications and to operate commercially a drone here?

    April 30, 2021 at 8:46 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Herve. You can apply to the CAAP and have them validate your foreign RPAs controller certificate as long as it is still active.

      April 30, 2021 at 8:50 pm
    • martin castro Reply

      UAV / RPAS Controllers (Foreign Controllers):

      PCAR 2.13.10 – Validation of Foreign RPA Controller Certificate, License or Authorization.Note: This new provision provides a mechanism for foreign companies that possess a current and existing certificate or authorization from their country to be validated in order to operate in the Philippines.

      October 21, 2021 at 10:54 am
  • Noel Reply

    Hi, I am a OFW and resident in Philippines, I am also a beginner drone operator. I would like to bring home my small drone which is less than 7kgs for a recreational/hobby purposes. Do I not I need a permit or permission letter from CAAP prior arriving in Manila or any provincial airport?

    To whom or any personnel (email add.) I can send my inquiry to request a letter in hand to show to our Airport Custom just in case they stop me or either confiscate for bringing my drone in Philippines.

    May 13, 2021 at 5:32 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Noel. There’s no need for CAAP clearance to bring in your recreational drone. If you want to be sure and have paperwork to show, you can call CAAP directly at +63 2 7944-2142.

      June 1, 2021 at 6:01 am
  • Randel Reply

    Hi, I wanna know if Certificates or License is needed for DJI Phantom 4 to be used for Aerial Videos and Photos for Construction project of PNR (Railway Project) in City of Sanfernando, Pampanga ?

    September 6, 2021 at 10:26 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Randel. If you are a subcontractor for the project or are hired by the construction company to do an aerial survey, then yes your pilot, equipment, and organization need to be certified by the CAAP first.

      September 6, 2021 at 10:56 am
      • Randel Reply

        Got it. Thank you!

        September 7, 2021 at 8:25 am
  • Eugene M. Emnacin Reply

    Hi! Im a seàferer and resident in iligan city im planning to buy dji mini 2 in singapore airport. Cause my returing home this 30 sep 2021 from peru. Transiting singapore to cebu. Do I not I need a permit or permission letter from CAAP prior arriving in cebu & domestic flight going to my home in iligan City. To whom or any personnel (email add.) I can send my inquiry to request a letter in hand to show to our Airport Custom just in case they stop me or either confiscate for bringing my drone in Philippines.

    September 18, 2021 at 9:19 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Eugene. No need for a letter to bring your small drone into the country, but you can also just buy the DJI Mini 2 in the Philippines instead.

      September 18, 2021 at 9:24 am
  • Knivez F. Reply

    Hi, I am located in blue zone (authorization zone) in DJI map and is near the airport. I wanted to fly my drone to look for cellsites’ Line-of-Site and determine the height of antenna I need to deploy. This is for personal use only. Do I need authorization from CAAP to fly at a lower altitude (<30 meters) within my propery perimeter in a subdivision?

    September 28, 2021 at 9:42 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Knivez. Yes, otherwise you operate at your own risk of being reported for safety violations.

      September 28, 2021 at 9:59 pm
  • Win Reply

    Hi. I’m a freelancer and I’m planning to use my air 2s drone for wedding photography. Do I need to get a certificate?if yes, What certificate would you suggest? Thank you

    October 6, 2021 at 12:19 pm
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Win. As mentioned in the guide, the CAAP requires certifications before you can provide commercial drone services like photography/videography. Start with the RPA Controller and RPA Registration certificate to formalize your skills and equipment. Then once you setup a business entity for DTI or BIR registration, you can apply for the RPA Operator Certificate. On another note, there are many photo/video studios that offer aerial photos for events that don’t have any certifications. These are non-compliant with CAAP regulations and operate at risk of being reported and fined by the CAAP.

      October 6, 2021 at 12:30 pm
  • martin castro Reply

    Hello, Can anybody take the RPAS certification ? is Visa status a factor ?

    thank you

    October 21, 2021 at 10:19 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Martin. There are no visa requirements to apply for certification.

      October 21, 2021 at 10:34 am
  • yong Reply

    Do I need to register a drone that is 249g?
    (DJI MINI SE)

    November 8, 2021 at 8:23 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Yong. It depends on what you’re using it for. Please read the 1st question on our guide here on Philippine Drone Laws and Certificates to get your answer.

      November 9, 2021 at 8:30 am
  • Judy Ponce Reply

    Hi, for Habsun Zino needs to be registered?

    November 9, 2021 at 12:52 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Judy. It depends on what you will use your drone for. Please read the 1st question in our guide to Philippine Drone Laws and Certificates here to get your answer.

      November 9, 2021 at 8:32 am
  • Jimuel Reply

    Hi, if a construction company wishes to fly their own drone for their own survey data and acquisition in their project, do they also need to have their own RPAS operator certificate even if they do not plan to use or offer the drone survey as a service for other companies? Thanks.

    November 9, 2021 at 9:22 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Jimuel. The RPA Operator Certificate is not required in that case.

      November 9, 2021 at 11:41 am
      • Jimuel Reply

        Thank you

        November 9, 2021 at 4:53 pm
  • Jerome Jungco Reply

    I’m a Government Employee and uses drone for documentation and coverage. But out from my work I do also freelance drone aerial coverage.
    I just to become a license drone pilot so that I may know more about the regulations and I am coordinated with the aviation authority wherever I launch
    the drone like restrictions in some areas like ports and airports. Is there online examination or test because I’m from cagayan de oro city mindanao its difficult to travel to manila to main CAAP.

    Thanks.

    November 28, 2021 at 3:21 am
    • Philippine Drone Network Reply

      Hi Jerome. Some parts of the certificate application can now be done with the CAAP, but not all of it because they don’t have enough offices in other airports outside of Manila. You can call or email them directly to make arrangements.

      November 28, 2021 at 8:51 am

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