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Short & Sweet no. 11
Part 2: Arriving in the EU using the TA procedure (be ready for customs’ ramp checks)

Added March 2022
  • What do customs want to know?

  • What do customs look for?

  • Why are corporate or commercial operators often checked?

  • Why are airlines rarely ramp checked by customs?

  • What is the secure approach when using Temporary Admission?

This is the second part in a series on what to do when arriving within the EU using the TA procedure and should be considered in relation to the Short & Sweet mail no. 9 and Short & Sweet mail no. 14.

Here, we will dig a bit deeper into the questions EU customs can ask during customs ramp checks when aircraft arrive in the EU and what underlying documentation and information all operators should have available to present during a customs ramp check.

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 (FI). 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.

What do customs want to know?
Customs wants to clarify the background for the operation, e.g., the owner and operator structure and the intention. Customs will also want to know under which of the two customs procedure the aircraft has entered the EU. If the aircraft is not fully imported, merely mention that you are flying under TA. Using TA does not mean that the operator will have to present a so-called Supporting Document, but an operator (practically the pilots) must be ready to confirm and document the chosen customs procedure and eventually explain the owner and operator structure and other compliance relevant data as well as the purpose for visiting the EU.

What do customs look for?
Customs are looking to check the aircraft operation for TA compliance, but they are also looking for EU insiders with an outdated or void importation or even EU insiders without a full importation where operators are claiming to fly legally under TA. There are many myths about the (wrong) use of TA, such as the below-mentioned scenarios:

  • Some seem to think that they can use TA for the first 180 days within the EU before fully importing the aircraft
  • Some operators like to think that a Cyprus ownership is fine with TA

We have also come across other scenarios, all of which have proven to be very costly for the owners being ramp checked.

Have you seen the other parts of this topic? Part 1 Part 3

Why are corporate or commercial operators often checked?
Non-EU corporate or commercial operators are often ramp checked. Their aircraft are not easy to recognize, and customs do not know their background or intentions. Non-EU commercial operators can fly anywhere within the EU under TA as long as they have or are able to obtain proper traffic rights. Most non-EU corporate operators flying under TA will have the same flying privileges as under full importation but with more flexibility and extra advantages, such as unrestricted flying with personal family, flying with EU resident guests without any consequences, no tax, VAT, or duty liability anywhere within the EU, etc. For this reason, non-EU operators are regularly checked by EU customs – to check if they follow the TA procedure strictly, so these advantageous TA privileges are not abused.

Why are airlines rarely ramp checked?
We are often asked, “I wonder if all non-EU carriers like Emirates or American carriers deal with the Temporary Admission when arriving within the EU”. These airlines are indeed flying under TA, and it is a common misunderstanding that TA and commercial traffic cannot be combined. Then why are these airlines rarely ramp checked – if ever? The obvious answer is that customs know that they are well-established non-EU companies and have traffic rights, so there is no reason to check them. 

Temporary Admission is supposed to be paperless, so what must be documented and when?
Only the entry and exit are supposed to be paperless, but the operator must continuously live up to the TA preconditions and handle the limitations correctly, even if it is just flights in and out of the EU. The operator will eventually be asked to prove TA compliance somewhere in the EU – quite commonly in Greece, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal and less frequently in the other EU member states.


How to become ready to use the Temporary Admission procedure?

  1. Check that the basic preconditions are fulfilled
  2. Understand the limitations and subjects that must be handled correctly
  3. Have the relevant paperwork ready onboard the aircraft to document the correct use of TA
  4. Instruct the pilots so that they are ready to handle a customs ramp check

The secure approach when using Temporary Admission

Our Secure Temporary Admission procedure is the best tool to quickly prove compliance with the TA procedure if the aircraft is stopped and checked on the ramp in an EU airport, eliminating any unnecessary waiting time while EU customs are perusing the TA compliance.

Legal background for Temporary Admission
The Istanbul convention from 1990, regulating the worldwide usage of TA, is not very precise, and the EU Commission have been and are therefore continuously publishing various working papers and guidelines, etc., to clarify the correct understanding of TA and its usage within the EU. Especially the 2014 working paper from the EU Customs Code Committee (available in English, French and German) is important. Operators should anyway be aware off 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, and less often other places.

 Click here to see a list of the known grey zone areas where different interpretations of the TA procedure exist between member states and the areas where an operator often need guidance to use TA in a safe way. Yet, none of the situations cause problems for using TA if handled and documented correctly. 

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

Have you seen the other parts of this topic? Part 1 Part 3

List of all OPMAS
Short & Sweet mails:

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

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

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

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

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

No. 14 – Part 3: Arriving in the EU using the TA procedure (does an operator need help?)
Aug 2022 TA

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

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

No. 11 – Part 2: Arriving in the EU using the TA procedure (be ready for customs’ ramp checks)
Mar 2022 TA

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

No. 9 – Part 1: Arriving in the EU using the TA procedure (about the Supporting Document)
Dec 2021 TA

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

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

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

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

May 2021 TA FI

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

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

Mar 2021 FI

No. 2 – Flying commercially
within the EU

Feb 2021 TA FI

No. 1 – Flying with the

Nov 2020 TA FI

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