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The Importation Alternative To Cabotage Compliance
An option for removing cabotage restraints on international operations is importation of a U.S. registered aircraft into foreign country (e.g. Canada, a European Union country etc.) in which corporate aircraft owner wishes to operate. Importation then makes aircraft an aircraft of country into which it is imported (e.g. an aircraft of Canada or a European Union aircraft). The aircraft can usually be imported on a temporary or permanent basis and does not usually require that aircraft be re-registered.
For importation into most countries, corporate aircraft owner will be required to pay “Value-Added Tax” (VAT) on value of aircraft. Two exceptions are European Union countries of United Kingdom and Denmark. Both countries have a zero valuation of aircraft weighing over 24,000 pounds and are frequently used to import corporate aircraft into European Union. Once aircraft is imported into foreign country, for purposes of regulation it becomes an aircraft of that country and is no longer subject to cabotage restrictions.
Locating Cabotage Regulations
If importation is not an option, a corporate aircraft operator will need to research cabotage restrictions and regulations for particular country of intended travel. The first place to consult is Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) published by country to which operator wishes to travel. How do you get AIP for a particular country? Well, best place to start is International Flight Information Manual (IFIM). The IFIM is published by FAA and has information regarding civil aviation authority for each country and respective contact information and addresses to which you can direct your request for country’s AIP.
However, you should be aware that many countries’ AIP’s may not contain all of applicable rules and regulations relating to cabotage and its enforcement. Often times a country’s customs and/or revenue officials responsible for enforcement are not always on proverbial same page and may interpret regulations inconsistently.
Fortunately for corporate aircraft operators, IFIM contains a section for each country titled “Corporate Aircraft Constraints” that includes information prepared by U.S. Department of State. This section specifically addresses cabotage and similar regulations as they may apply to operation of corporate aircraft within foreign country.
At end of day, pilot in command is responsible for operation of flight in compliance with all applicable regulations. However, in context of a corporate operation, corporation is also responsible for operation of its aircraft. Violations of cabotage regulations can subject both pilot and corporation to some nasty consequences.
To avoid these consequences, as a corporate aircraft operator you should find out about applicable regulations before you fly. Consult AIP for country in which you wish to travel. Review corporate restraints for that country in IFIM. If you are a member of National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), review feedback for country in NBAA’s International Operators Bulletin or on NBAA’s website. Also, check with your point of entry handler/FBO/flight planning organization. Finally, for final, “official” confirmation, contact applicable governing authority within country to obtain current regulations and interpretations.
Proper planning and current information are essential for international operations by corporate aircraft. Don’t leave home without them.
Greg is an aviation attorney, author and holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating. His practice concentrates on aviation litigation, including insurance matters and creditor’s rights, FAA certificate actions and aviation related transactional matters. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his website at www.aerolegalservices.com.