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Short & Sweet no. 6
Flying with EU-resident persons onboard when using Temporary Admission

Added 2021 – Updated March 2024

  • What are the limitations?

  • Who are the restrictions meant for?

  • Are other documents needed onboard when flying with EU-resident persons?

  • What is right and wrong?

The Union Customs Code (UCC) states that there are some limitations for aircraft using the TA procedure when carrying EU-resident persons onboard. These limitations were only meant to limit the real user of the aircraft, so it is important to know the definition of the real user to understand the effects that the limitations bring. The limitations are stipulated in Article 215 in the UCC-DA.

Here is the background, which has been confirmed by the EU Commission several times.

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 this procedure or realized that their aircraft is flying under TA. The TA procedure is thus always required when flying to the EU, even for a flight with only one stop within the EU. Here, non-compliance with TA will most likely activate a direct payment of the VAT (ranging from 17-27%) and customs duty (2.7%) for the owner or operator. 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 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.

Which entity is the real user of an aircraft?
The concept of use does not depend on the entity having the power of disposal over the means of transport, e.g., in the form of ownership, under a rental agreement or charter, or lease or operating agreement. It only depends on the entity having physical control over the means of transport. The entity using the aircraft is the pilot or co-pilot, thus having physical control over the aircraft, also referred to as the physical operator. The physical operator is, in customs terms, the entity that employs the crew, supervises or controls the aeronautical operation, and provides services to keep the aircraft flying. If the aircraft is managed, the management company is normally considered the physical operator.

What are the limitations for EU-resident persons?
To the extent that the pilots have their habitual residence within the EU, the aircraft can use the TA procedure if the conditions in Article 215 in the UCC-DA are met. The most important condition is that the pilots must be directly employed by the physical operator.

Irrespective of the habitual residence of passengers or flight attendants being in or outside the EU, passengers and flight attendants are not considered users of the aircraft, meaning that the limitations do not influence any EU-resident passengers or flight attendants.

Are other documents needed onboard when flying with EU-resident persons?
Almost every week, operators ask us if they must have a so-called authorization letter onboard the aircraft from the owner or if they must appoint a main passenger when flying with EU-resident passengers within the EU. However, the authorization letter is outdated, as this option was removed from the Union Customs Code in 2014. An authorization or invitation letter can still be used, but it will not have any legal effect or protect the aircraft against irregularities as 1) the authorization was originally meant for pilots and not passengers; please review the explanation above about the real user – and 2) appointing a main passenger amongst all passengers is evidence of a wrong application of the TA procedure as passengers cannot be considered the real user. The two points have no legal foundation in the UCC.

What is right and wrong?
We acknowledge that there are many opinions about this issue. Still, we are sure that the above explanation is strictly correct, as it is based upon dialogues and various working papers from the EU Commission, backed by EU customs agencies. Throughout the years, we have seen a tendency to talk down the use of TA in favor of the full importation procedure, which is also available for EU outsiders. Yet, the TA procedure holds numerous advantages compared to full importation if applied correctly. If you have any doubts about this explanation, simply ask the EU Commission or a competent EU customs agency for guidance instead of seeking advice from importing consultants, such as OPMAS. We have ourselves asked for guidance from capable EU regulators several times, and we have never received a reply that did not support our descriptions.

Other Short & Sweet articles about arriving in the EU using the TA procedure.

Short & Sweet mail no. 9 Part 1: What is the Supporting Document, and how do you use it?
Short & Sweet mail no. 11 Part 2: What do customs look for during a ramp check, and why?
Short & Sweet mail no. 14 Part 3: In which scenarios will an operator need help or guidance?
Short & Sweet mail no. 21 Part 4: How do you prepare to handle a customs ramp check?

Correct documentation is a make-or-break issue
Even though using TA is supposed to be a simple, paperless process for most operators, documentation must not be disregarded. Correct documentation proving TA compliance is a make-or-break issue during customs ramp checks. The Supporting Document (if used upon entry) alone does not prove TA compliance. Only the entry and exit are supposed to be paperless, but the operator must continuously live up to the TA preconditions, handle the limitations correctly, and be able to document these at any time, even if flights are just in and out of the EU with only one visited destination. Also, operators should always consider how to document TA compliance as well as handle and secure the known grey zone areas when using TA. The relevant documentation can be conditioned without help from OPMAS, but we will be happy to help and have years of experience with this process. We offer different TA solutions depending on the risk profile and typical flight pattern. Please inquire for more details.

The Temporary Admission procedure has become a very well-defined customs procedure
Please note that TA can be used to fly privatelycorporately, 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.

Legal background for Temporary Admission
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 Union Customs Code Committee (available in English, French, and German) is especially important. Operators should always be aware that these documents are not binding for EU member states, which is why different interpretations exist between member states, thus also why it is important to have a competent customs agency outlining 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 operators often need guidance to use TA safely. None of the grey zone areas create problems against using TA if correctly handled and documented.

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

List of all OPMAS
Short & Sweet mails:

No. 21 – Part 4: Using Temporary Admission – how to prepare for a customs ramp check
Jan 2024 TA

No. 20 – Buying or selling aircraft within, to, or from the EU
Nov 2023 TA FI

No. 19 – The real differences between full importation and Temporary Admission
Sep 2023 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 18 – Exporting an aircraft from the EU
Jun 2023 - Updated 2024 FI

No. 17 – What is the correct use of a corporate aircraft?
Mar 2023 - Updated 2024 FI

No. 16 – Which customs procedures can be used for parking an aircraft within the EU?
Jan 2023 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 15 – Liability and risk elements associated with EU importation and admission
Oct 2022 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 14 – Part 3: Using Temporary Admission – when does an operator need help?
Aug 2022 – Updated 2024 TA

No. 13 – Importation impacts when traveling the world in corporate aircraft
Jun 2022 - Updated 2024 FI

No. 12 – How to get the 0% airline VAT exemption meant for commercial operators
May 2022 - Updated 2024 FI

No. 11 – Part 2: Using Temporary Admission
– what do customs look for during a ramp check, and why?

Mar 2022 – Updated 2024 TA

No. 10 – How to handle aircraft maintenance correct in a customs context​
Feb 2022 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 9 – Part 1: Using Temporary Admission – the Supporting Document
Dec 2021 – Updated 2024 TA

No. 8 – Do not fall into the operator trap when flying within the EU and UK
Oct 2021 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 7 – Which offshore aircraft registrations can be used with Temporary Admissions when flying within the EU and UK?
Sep 2021 - Updated 2024 TA

No. 6 – Flying with EU-resident persons onboard when using Temporary Admission
Aug 2021 - Updated 2024 TA

No. 5 – What about private use
of corporate aircraft?

May 2021 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 4 – What does ‘VAT paid’ mean?
Mar 2021 - Updated 2024 FI

No. 3 – Is a full importation needed
in both the UK and the EU27?

Mar 2021 - Updated 2024 FI

No. 2 – Flying commercially
within the EU

Feb 2021 - Updated 2024 TA FI

No. 1 – Flying with the

Nov 2020 - Updated 2024 TA FI

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