The global aviation industry has seen an increase in the number of potential registers on which to put your aircraft. There are newcomers such as Guernsey, Jersey and San Marino; popular and relatively new registers such as the Isle of Man; and then the old guard including Bermuda, Cayman Islands and the On-Shore registers like United Kingdom, Germany or USA.
Your Local Aircraft Registry
As an aircraft owner you can choose where to register your aircraft. It does not have to be the country in which you live. The register you are able to choose broadly depends on your tax structure and the location of the entity that owns the aircraft.
Understanding why to choose a certain registry is very important. Some may offer tax advantages or disadvantages which you should discuss with your tax advisor. Others are well known for being service friendly. For example, the Isle of Man is renowned for being customer-oriented and usually act very quickly with events such as validations, dates for Export Certificate of Airworthiness, or annual Certificate of Airworthiness renewals. Some registers have lower fees than others. Some allow charter to be conducted within multiple jurisdictions, while others will not. Certain registers have ratified and implemented the Cape Town Convention, a treaty where international security interests are filed making these jurisdictions favourites of aircraft finance companies. This is an age where you have competition as to where you can register your aircraft and there are financial differences amongst them.
There is not one answer to where to register your aircraft. You will probably have options to choose between. However, there are certain questions you have to ask yourself to determine the right options:
1) Do you want to charter your jet? Many of the off-shore registries do not allow aircraft on their registers to operate for charter (the Isle of Man register, for example).
2) How are you structuring your ownership to address VAT liability? The specific structure you choose can affect the registry you should use, particularly if you are relying on charter to help negate VAT consequences.
3) Do the maintenance facilities you regularly use have the capability to work on aircraft with that registration? Maintenance facilities have to be approved by each registry to perform work on aircraft with that registration. Most facilities are approved by EASA or FAA to work on their jets and many registers fall under those umbrellas, but ones like Bermuda or Cayman require separate approvals.
4) Where is your holding entity? Some registers restrict the jurisdiction of entities that own the aircraft. The Isle of Man requires the owning entity to be either an EU member state or a member of the British Commonwealth. A USA owned aircraft therefore cannot register on the Isle of Man. Most Commonwealth nations (such as Bermuda and Cayman) have similar limitations.
5) Where is your aircraft currently registered? Is it EASA or FAA approved? There are different approvals for avionics and STC’s for each of these and many registers will only allow one type (EASA compliant jets vs FAA compliant jets) to register with them.
6) What registers can your Operator operate? They may have pilots and crew with licenses only for EASA or FAA aircraft. Validating for another register can have a time and/or financial burden behind it.
As previously stated, there is not one right answer for you as often a couple of options will happily meet your needs, but speak with your operator and tax advisor and ask questions to the register office as to what their requirements are and what their annual needs are to have an aircraft on their registry.
Articles are written from real world experience by Colibri Aircraft’s individuals. If you have any questions or comments about the topic of this blog, please feel free to contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org