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Quick Guide for International Charter Operators
– For AOC holders, Part 135 charter certificate holders, or similar

Compare full importation and Temporary Admission

Updated March 2024

This quick guide covers the typical case where an aircraft is operated by a company and used for private and corporate purposes.

The description is based on the Union Customs Code (UCC) and various EU directives and working papers. In our opinion, this is the correct interpretation of the regulations, but all EU member states have not necessarily implemented everything at present.

Full importation is mainly for EU-established entities. It grants free circulation for the aircraft, holds a lot of privileges but also potential liabilities, and includes procedures that must be handled continuously and correctly.)

Temporary Admission is only for entities established outside the EU. It holds some limitations and preconditions for the owner and operator structure and includes grey zone areas, which can all be handled securely by having the proper documentation.

Important things to know about Temporary Admission
Operators should be aware that different interpretations of the TA procedure exist between member states. Thus, it is important to have a competent customs agency 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, Greece, and less often other places.

Be prepared to meet the EU customs when using Temporary Admission
Feedback shows that being prepared when flying to the EU is crucial. We recommend that operators are always ready to prove TA compliance and can present relevant documents during a potential customs ramp check. Even though an EU entry can be made paperless. No operator should fly to the EU unprepared and unable to explain and document why they are eligible to use the TA procedure. Being ready for a customs ramp check should be seen parallel to how an operator prepares for an eventual SAFA ramp check. We acknowledge that it might be difficult for operators to prepare a convincing portfolio of documentation proving TA compliance. However, having this ready for customs ramp checks protects operators against the large financial risk as well as hours or days of delay at the ramp while their case is perused. We have helped hundreds of clients prepare for ramp checks with different TA solutions pending on the risk profile. A ready-to-use portfolio of relevant documents is simply operators’ only security, easing customs ramp checks and giving all involved entities peace of mind. We experience that many pilots are not trained and prepared to handle the above issues convincingly. Please inquire for more details.

Important things to know about full importation
Operators should be aware that full importation includes a potential VAT and tax liability, requires onwards continuous correct worldwide economic activity as well as correct handling of any potential worldwide non-business use and or non-commercial use; requirements that the TA procedure does not have. The statute of limitations is five years for full importation, and the use of the aircraft must worldwide stay fully compliant with current EU regulations until the end of this period.

Wrap up
Non-EU operators capable of using the Temporary Admission procedure will have vast advantages. These operators will practically have the same flying privileges as given under full importation, as the few limitations do not influence the typical flight for EU outsiders. Here, TA will even give the declarant more flexibility and extra advantages such as unrestricted personal, family or guest use without consequences and no tax or VAT liability anywhere. Many of which are often a huge problem when using full importation.

How can we help?
If you have questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 Red  = Low flexibility or liability  Yellow  = Be aware  Green  = High flexibility

Entities involved Full Importation Temporary Admission
Which entity can be the importing entity
/declarant ?
Owner Yes (1) No
Lessee Yes (1) No
Trust/Trustee No No
Operator Yes Yes (2)
  1. The VAT exemption can be extended to the owner or lessee via a look-through procedure.
  2. The operator is, in customs terms, the entity that has supervision or control of the aeronautical operation, typically employs crew, and provides services to keep the aircraft flying.
Methods used for VAT and Customs duty Full Importation Temporary Admission
How is the VAT handled?
The VAT ranges from 17-27% depending on the EU member state and is based on the value of the aircraft
No VAT is imposed if both the operator and aircraft qualify for 0% VAT exemption No VAT is imposed
How is the customs duty handled?
The customs duty is 2.7% and based on the value of the aircraft
No customs duty is imposed No customs duty is imposed
Preconditions & usage Full Importation Temporary Admission
Is an EU establishment required for importing entities? No Declarant cannot be established within the EU
Is EU ownership required? No Owner entity (including UBO) cannot be established within the EU
Can the operator be EU-established? Yes No
If VAT exemption is not possible, can any VAT imposed during the importation be deducted? Maybe, but international charter is in principle VAT-exempt No impact
What are the preconditions for the importing entity to be considered an international charter operator with VAT exemption? The majority of all traffic for importing entities must be internationally (3) No impact
What are the preconditions for an aircraft to be considered VAT-exempt if used by an exempt international charter operator? Aircraft must be used exclusively for commercial operation (4) No impact
Is commercial operation use mandatory for the operator? On importation day Yes No impact
Continuously while operating the aircraft Yes No impact
What is the impact if the aircraft is used for non-commercial operation activities by the operator? The operation is no longer VAT-exempt. The normal VAT must be paid by the importing entity (5) No impact
If used for commercial operation, does non-business use of the aircraft by passengers have any economic impact on the VAT handling? Private or personal use No impact No impact
Entertainment use No impact No impact
Does non-EU use impact the VAT handling? No impact No impact
If used for commercial operation, does business use by passengers, such as corporate flying of the aircraft, have any economic impact on the VAT handling? No impact No impact
  1. The operator must have a majority of international flights; the Danish threshold is 55%+. The threshold can vary from one EU member state to another.
  2. It is a precondition that the aircraft is used solely for commercial operation, but the precise definition of “commercial operation” can vary from one EU member state to another.
  3. If the use of the aircraft is changed, the VAT will have to be reassessed.
Traffic rights, charters, tickets, etc Full importation Temporary Admission
Are traffic rights (charter permits) needed when flying on internal legs within the EU? Yes, quite often if the operator is non-EU Yes, quite often if the operator is non-EU
Are group charters allowed on internal legs within the EU? Yes Yes
Is it allowed, in a customs context, to use the aircraft for transportation against a ticket fee in the EU? (6) Yes No
  1. Ticket sales require scheduled traffic rights, which very few international charter operators will have.
Persons onboard allowed Full importation Temporary Admission
EU passengers on internal EU flights Yes Yes (7)
EU crew on internal EU flights Yes Yes (8)
  1. 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.
  2. There are no restrictions if EU-resident crew are employed by the declarant.
Which aircraft registration can be used? Full Importation Temporary Admission
The 27 EU member states Yes No (9)
Aruba (P4) Yes Yes
Bermuda (VP-B) Yes Yes
Cayman (VP-C) Yes Yes
Guernsey (2) Yes Yes
Isle of Man (M) Yes Yes
San Marino (T7) Yes Yes
Switzerland (HB) Yes Yes
US (N) Yes Yes
Any other registrations Yes Yes
  1. Aircraft registered within the EU are not eligible for Temporary Admission and thus not allowed to be flying in the customs territory of the Union.
Type of flights allowed Full Importation Temporary Admission
Flying to one EU destination Yes Yes
Flying internally within the EU Yes Yes
Maximum period of stay Unlimited Six months per stay (10)
Fixed established EU base Yes No
  1. The aircraft can stay up to six months per stay, and multiple entries are allowed.

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