COMMERCIAL AND CORPORATE FLYING WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Short & Sweet no. 16
Which customs procedures can be used for parking an aircraft within the EU?
Temporary Admission can normally be used for parking when visiting the EU
But can the Customs Warehouse Procedure also be used for parking or longtime storage?
Where are the grey zone areas and pitfalls?
We are often asked how to choose the correct customs procedure when an aircraft is going to be parked for a longer period within the EU. In this article, we dive a bit deeper into the topic and look at how the different customs procedures can be used in this respect.
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. 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.
The aircraft is allowed to stay or park for up to six months at a time when operated by EU outsiders visiting the EU. A new six-months-period can be initiated upon a new entry into the EU. EU outsiders should never fear parking their aircraft during their visit to the EU, but continuously flying in and out of the EU with longer periods of stay at the same destination could eventually get the operator or aircraft considered as having established a local or fixed EU base – changing the status of the visiting EU outsider to become an EU insider. Please have a look at these fixed base indicators if relevant.
TA can, in general, only be used when the purpose of flights is transportation of persons. This is the reason why TA cannot be used where the purpose of a flight is parking, storage, maintenance (MRO), etc. We have seen cases where normally Swiss-based aircraft for a longer period were flown empty to a rented (cheaper and available) hangar in France for parking between flights to and from Switzerland. These cases ended badly when French customs realized that the real purpose of the stay was parking or hangarage and not transportation of persons. These scenarios clearly required a full importation even though the same operator and aircraft were able to use TA correctly if they had flown to France with passengers onboard.
The aircraft will be in free circulation within the EU and can be parked without any customs restrictions. EU outsiders should, however, always be aware of the other consequences of using full importation before choosing this option over TA.
The Customs Warehouse Procedure can only be used when the goods involved (the aircraft) are going to be used as a part of a refinement process. The procedure does not support any scenarios where the purpose is parking or longtime storage. Therefore, an aircraft should never be able to qualify for the use of this procedure if the purpose is parking or longtime storage, as the state of the aircraft has not changed when discharged from the procedure. A refinement process has simply not happened while parked. The Customs Warehouse Procedure can also not be used to facilitate any kind of maintenance (MRO) activities as this kind of activity is not considered a refinement process.
The risk of the Customs Warehouse Procedure is that any wrong use of the procedure can easily be seen as a circumvention of the regulation where a full importation should have been used instead. If you feel tempted to use the Customs Warehouse Procedure for parking or longtime storage and think that your local customs have a different practical interpretation of the procedure than described above, please secure the case by asking the local customs for a binding assessment ruling approving the correct purpose before asking your local customs agent to imitate the procedure.
The Inward Processing Procedure can only be used to facilitate aircraft maintenance (MRO) and does not support any scenarios where the purpose is parking or longtime storage. This procedure can only be used by EU outsiders.
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. 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.
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.
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. 18 – Exporting an aircraft from the EU
Jun 2023 FI
No. 5 – What about private use
of corporate aircraft?
May 2021 TA FI
No. 4 – What does ‘VAT paid’ mean?
Mar 2021 FI
No. 2 – Flying commercially
within the EU
Feb 2021 TA FI
No. 1 – Flying with the
Nov 2020 TA FI