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Getting Started -UAS Civil COA Desk Reference Guide

Petitioning for Exemption under Section 333 and UAS COA

After receiving an exemption under Section 333 , petitioners should apply for a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). 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.


  • The FAA requires a reasonable amount of time to process a COA. Whenever possible, all efforts are made to handle COA requests expeditiously. The FAA will endeavor to process civil COA applications within sixty (60) business days (excludes federal holidays and weekends). Please note that the timeframe for processing a civil COA application can be impacted by the type of operation that is requested.
  • The COA application process is separate from the petition for exemption process.
  • The Federal Registry Docket number is not an exemption number granted to a petitioner.
  • Both the COA application and the petition for exemption should be submitted under the same name/company name.
  • Questions about the Section 333 process should be directed to