If you found this page, you probably already know that Canadian pilot license is usually required to fly in Canada. I am going to describe the process of conversion the FAA license to a Transport Canada one. Of course for working here you also need a work permit or be a citizen or permanent resident, but this is a totally different story.
I have a FAA and EASA Commercial Pilot License, but I am not allowed to fly a Canadian aircraft here unless I have a local license, and no one will consider to offer me a job without it. Therefore I have to obtain a Canadian license (TCCA – Transport Canada).
Fortunately there is a bilateral agreement between the FAA and TCCA allowing to convert the license without even a practical test, and the best part is that it is true for Commercial licenses too. The process is pretty straightforward, and it is very well described on the official site. Basically you need to obtain a Canadian medical, obtain a Radio Operator Certificate (ROC-A), pass written exams and send the documents to one of the Transport Canada offices in your province.
The first medical is essential. After it would have been processed, you get a license number, and there is nothing that can be done before that. I got mine in about 2 months after the appointment, but as I heard it can be much longer.
After getting a license/medical number it is possible to book an appointment for written exams. The one for commercial license is FAACA, and for instrument rating is FAAIA. The appointment can be booked by email – the full list can be found at the official site. You have to provide the license number (the one on the medical), copy of the FAA license, desired exam date(s) and confirmation of payment. The exams can be paid online.
Ontario office responds really quickly, in a couple of days, and in my case they booked me the date just next week.
After passing the exams you need to fill a license conversion form and email it to the same address as for booking the exams. The official site says that additional documents will be requested after reviewing it, but it is a good idea to send them right away to speed up the process.
Of course, for issuing the license all prerequisites should be met. It means BFR (Biannual Flight Review) in the previous 24 months, and in case of Instrument Rating IPC (Instrument Proficiency Check) in the previous 24 months (yes, it is not necessary to be current).
My BFR is still good, but 24 months from the previous IPC already lapsed. The problem is that I don’t have the US visa yet, and I cannot find a current FAA CFII in Canada, so probably firstly I will get my license and later will add an instrument rating. Basically any FAA CFII can do it in any country, I even seriously considered traveling to South Africa for that, but finally decided that it’s easier to obtain a US visa and do it in the US. Even though it will take more time.
As I already mentioned, if all prerequisites are met and written exams are passed, the official guide recommends to send the license conversion form by email and wait for further instructions. It can work of course, but to speed up the process along with emailing the form I suggest sending all the documents right away by regular mail: aviation booklet application, certified passport-size photo, ID copy, proof of citizenship copy, conversion request form, FAA license copy, copies of the last 3 logbook pages, and copies of the logbook pages with BFR and IPC. Better to send the email with all supporting documents as well along with the paper package.
Waiting is a necessary part of almost all government-related services, and nothing can be done with it. If you’re lucky it can take a couple of months, but easily could be a year as well. The official Transport Canada processing time is up to 90 days, so theoretically it could be up to 90 days for a medical and no more than 90 days for an aviation booklet. But this is not guaranteed.
I just got my medical certificate and booked my written exams. Will keep you updated!
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