Frequently asked questions about Temporary Admission
Updated Nov 2023
The customs aspect of flying within the EU
Any aircraft flying into the EU will operate under customs control using either the Temporary Admission procedure (TA) or full importation. There are no other options. If the aircraft is not already fully imported, the aircraft will automatically be considered as flying under the TA procedure even though the owner or operator has not themselves taken any action to activate the TA procedure or realized that their aircraft is flying under TA. The TA procedure can only be used by EU outsiders where the aircraft is owned (including any UBOs), operated, registered, and based outside the EU, leaving EU insiders with only one option: full importation. EU outsiders can, of course, choose to use full importation instead of TA if they find it beneficial. However, both options can be used commercially or privately if applied correctly.
Legal background for TA
The Istanbul convention from 1990, regulating the worldwide usage of TA, is not very precise, and the EU Commission has been and is continuously publishing various working papers and guidelines to clarify the correct understanding of TA and its usage in the EU. The 2014 working paper from the EU Customs Code Committee (available in English, French, and German) is especially important. Operators should always be aware that these documents are not binding for the EU member states, which is why different interpretations exist between member states, thus also why it is important to have a competent customs agency to outline the correct use and
understanding based on the specific setup. The problem with local interpretations is often related to flights within France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece.
Click here to see a list of the known grey zone areas where different interpretations of the TA procedure exist and where an operator often needs guidance to use TA safely. None of the grey zone areas create problems for using TA if correctly handled and documented.
TA can be used to fly privately, corporately, and commercially within the EU without any problems and with EU-resident persons onboard if applied correctly. Since 2014, the TA procedure has become a very well-defined customs procedure, especially for corporate and commercial aviation. This is thanks to the huge effort from, e.g., the EU Commission and NBAA.
Even though TA is meant to be a paperless customs entry process, please do not make the mistake of actually flying paperless without the ability to prove TA compliance. Every operator should be able to document their TA eligibility upon request. Mistakes can cost hours on the ramp, even in an “All Good” scenario.
If you have questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.
About the practicalities
Is more than one physical operator allowed for the same aircraft?
This is not a problem, but the actual physical operator must always be the declarant in the TA procedure. This requires different TA setups, one per operator
Can the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) of the aircraft be EU-resident?
What is the definition of the declarant?
It is the entity responsible for the TA process
Can the owner be the declarant?
Yes, but only if the owner is also the physical operator
What is the definition of the physical operator in customs terms?
The physical operator is the entity that has supervision or control of the aeronautical operation and instructs the crew about aeronautical decisions. If the aircraft is managed, the management company is normally considered to be the physical operator
Is the FAA definition of operational control the same as used in customs terms within the EU?
No, the FAA term does not define the physical operator but only the entity which decides where to fly. The physical operator must always be the declarant in the TA procedure
Must the Supporting Document always be stamped by local customs when the aircraft enters or exits the EU?
No, the use is not mandatory, and the entry and exit points can be documented in other, more practical ways.
However, having the Supporting Document ready in the aircraft or actively using the document indicates that the operator understands the use of TA, which is a good start if approached by customs
Is the validity of the Supporting Document always six months?
No, the document is only valid until the next exit (crossing an outer EU border)
Will an approved or stamped Supporting Document provide a free circulation status for the aircraft to roam freely within the EU?
No, the document only establishes the time and location of the entry point (where the outer EU border has been crossed)
Can the Isle of Man (M) registration be used?
Yes, the Isle of Man is outside the customs territory of the Union, which is a must
Can the San Marino (T7) registration be used?
Yes, San Marino is outside the customs territory of the Union, which is a must
About how the aircraft is used
Are internal flights allowed?
Yes, if all flights are defined as private use in customs terms
What does private use in customs terms mean?
Any flight where tickets are not sold
Can we charge passengers a ticket fee or direct payment per person?
Yes, but such a flight will be considered as commercial use in customs terms and have severe limitations
Our CEO or owner wants to pay for certain private flights. Is that okay?
Yes, if handled correctly
Are commercial group charters allowed?
Yes, if handled correctly. Commercial group charters are not seen as commercial use in customs terms but are defined as private use
Are demonstration flights with the purpose of selling aircraft or aviation equipment allowed?
Yes, if handled correctly
Are corporate flights allowed?
Yes. Corporate flights are not seen as commercial use but are defined as private use in customs terms
Are private flights allowed if used for: Entertainment? Hobby? Commuting? Personal/recreational travel?
What about animals onboard?
Animals can be carried onboard but cannot be covered by TA; separate customs procedures must be initiated
Can we carry goods onboard?
Yes, if it is not commercial (paid) freight
Can the aircraft be used for firefighting or aerial photo?
No, TA can only be used for the transport of people and goods. A flight with commercial freight/goods will be considered as commercial use in customs terms and have severe limitations
Can an EU resident lease or rent the aircraft?
No, the aircraft must be fully imported instead
Can a Part 91 operator ask passengers to pay or reimburse the cost of a flight?
Reimbursed or paid flights are okay, but there cannot be any direct splits between persons onboard. We recommend the use of SIFL, imputed income, or timeshare agreement, if possible
Can any flights performed outside the EU influence how an EU customs agency will determine whether or not TA is used correctly within the EU?
No, only flights within the customs territory of the Union will influence the use of TA. This would be different if full importation were used instead.
Can a helicopter arrive at an EU port parked onboard a yacht?
No, a helicopter shall always enter and exit the customs territory of the Union by flying across the outer EU border (12 sea miles from the nearest coast) instead of crossing the outer EU border parked onboard the yacht to avoid the helicopter is considered to be customs and VAT applicable goods and not means of transportation
About the people onboard
Are all non-EU-resident passengers allowed?
Yes, without restrictions
Are all EU-resident passengers allowed?
Yes, please notice that this reply is based on solid EU working papers, but these papers are non-binding for EU member states. The topic can, therefore, be seen as a grey zone area. That is why we mention this reservation and recommend that all operators have proper documentation ready to present during a customs ramp check to secure flights with EU passengers
Can the aircraft be piloted by non-EU-resident pilots?
Yes, without restrictions
Can the aircraft be piloted by EU-resident pilots?
Yes, but only if the declarant directly employs these pilots
Are there restrictions for EU-resident flight attendants or technicians?
Must an owner be present onboard as a passenger when flying within the EU?
No. It is a common misunderstanding.
Must an owner be present in the EU when the aircraft is flying within the EU?
This rule only relates to cases where a physical person is both the owner and operator (typically small GA aircraft)
Is it mandatory to write an authorization / invitation letter for EU-resident passengers?
No, the use of the mentioned authorization/invitation letter for passengers is outdated, as this option was removed from the UCC many years ago. An authorization/invitation letter can, of course, still be used, but it will not have any legal effect and will not protect the use of the aircraft. The authorization or invitation letter was only meant for the pilots and not the passengers, so there was never a legal foundation for the usage of this letter for passengers.