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8 Answers

Flying an N registered airplane in a foreign country with a foreign license

Asked by: 9349 views ,
FAA Regulations, General Aviation

I would like to know if it's legal to fly a Us registered aiplane in a foreign country with a foreign license, as long as the flight takes place within that country. Im quoting the CFR 61.3 :


(a) Pilot certificate. No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft of the United States, unless that person—

(1) Has a pilot certificate or special purpose pilot authorization issued under this part in that person's physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate or authorization. However, when the aircraft is operated within a foreign country, a pilot license issued by that country may be used; ... "

And I dont know in that case if all the rating I have endorsed in my foreign license apply.

Thank you

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8 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Jul 22, 2011

    From what I understand about these regulations.  There are three cases to consider.

    A US registered (N number) aircraft flying within the United States requires a pilot with a US pilot license
    A US registered (N number) aircraft flying between countries other than the United States requires a pilot with a US pilot license 
    A US registered (N number) aircraft flying solely in one foreign country requires a US pilot license or a pilot license from that foreign country provided the country is an ICAO member.

    For your example, situation three applies and the ratings and limitation placed on your foreign pilot license apply to the US registered aircraft you are planning on flying to include aircraft category, class and type if required.
    A couple legal interpretations from the FAA:



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  2. Axel Boorberg on Jul 23, 2011

    Hi, I am a PPL rated aviation attorney in Germany. Over here it is very common that airplanes are registered with the FAA instead of it’s European equivalent the EASA. This is mainly because the IR rating is more complex in Europe and quite a hassle to get especially when it comes to the written tests. Many people and a lot of my clients therefore have opted to register their airplane with the FAA. When it comes to the licence required to fly your airplane, there are different things to look for. Firstly you will have to check what the ICAO says and if it applies to your country. Usually ICAO ruling is that member’s properly qualified pilots can fly they airplanes according to national and foreign rules in each member’s airspace. This means US pilot with US licence and US airplane (for example Robert Gannon on his lately completed circumnavigation) can fly where ever he wants. Some countries go one step further and allow national pilots to fly foreign airplanes in their airspace. Such a ruling can be found in Germany. According to our national requirements a German licensed pilot is allowed to fly a N registered aircraft within Germany but not in foreign airspace. Check for your country if such a ruling exists. If not, you can always validate your license in the US and then fly with the FAA validation of your foreign license. I hope I helped you with this comment. If not, let me know.

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  3. Armando Vazquez on Jul 23, 2011

    Thank you very much for your answers, they were very useful to me ,and I  see  now that its legally to fly an N registered airplane in a foreign country with a foreign license. I currently have an ICAO CPL with IFR and MEL ratings, also LJ30 and LJ60 ratings , so I don’t know if I can exercise the privileges of my CPL or I will be just restricted to the PPL level flying N registered airplanes within my country (MEXICO); I also have an FAA PPL validated with my foreign license, but I have the “VFR  ONLY” limitation since I didn’t present de IFP test, so I have the following question too : The VFR ONLY limitation applies only when im flying inside US in a US airplane?
    Thank you very much again to both of you for your responses!!!!

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  4. Rodolfo Chinchilla on Aug 17, 2011

    I am Costa Rican Pilot with ICAO Commercial and ATPL Airline transport Pilot and also hold a valid license FAA ATP  on Airbus A320 multi engine land with Instrument rating.
    My question is if I can legaly flight a privat Cessna 172 withing USA airspace ? My plan is to buy a Cessna in USA and Flight down to Costa Rica. Can I do that?

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  5. Femi Arowolo on Nov 17, 2012

    Does an N registered Business jet used in Africa have to be taken back to the USA perriodically for sighting?

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  6. Femi Arowolo on Nov 17, 2012

    Does an N registeredBusiness Jet Used in Foreign have to be flown back to the USA periodically for sighting?

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  7. Pete Vincent on May 23, 2013

    Can a US licensed pilot fly a plane (within the US) that is registered XB or XA (Mexico) without holding a Mexican license?

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  8. Juan J on Apr 05, 2015

    Rodolfo, the answer is no. You need a US pilot’s license to fly N-numbered aircraft in US airspace.

    Femi, no, FAA-certified mechanics and inspectors can conduct inspections anywhere in the world as long as they do so per regulations and the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Pete, no, you have to have a Mexican pilot’s license to operate XA- or -XB-. For XB- it has to be a commercial license and no foreigners can get one of those. For XA- you have to be a certified masochist.

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