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Short & Sweet no. 9
Part 1: Arriving in the EU using the TA procedure (about the Supporting Document)

Added December 2021

  • Will an operator need to file any customs paperwork?
  • What is important when using Temporary Admission?
  • Is the Supporting Document always valid for a six-month period?

This is the first 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. 11 and Short & Sweet mail no. 14.

In this article, we will dive a bit deeper into the use of the Supporting Document (SD) when the SD is used to endorse the crossing of the outer EU border. Below, we will present the full explanation, 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 (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.

Will an operator need to file any customs paperwork when flying to the EU?
The answer is no. It is the EU Commission’s opinion that the bare act of crossing the outer EU border counts as a customs declaration, and the operator is not obliged to fill out any forms, including the SD, to activate a TA. This way of flying under TA is practiced 1000’s of times every day without any problems by non-EU entities, such as private, corporate, charter, commercial operators, and international airlines.

What is a Supporting Document?
The SD is a one-page pdf document with a duplicate page produced by the EU Commission. The SD should be seen as a voluntary tool to endorse an EU entry and subsequent exit. The operator must fill out the top part, leaving the bottom to be stamped or endorsed by an EU customs agency when the aircraft arrives and exits the EU.

What is important when using the Temporary Admission?
An operator must always be ready to document these points when flying to the EU:

  1. Flight pattern within the EU; an operator can, of course, use the SD for this purpose, but the entry and exit points and internal flights can easily be documented by flight logs and EURO control records, etc. The use of the SD is not mandatory and should merely be seen as one of multiple ways of documenting the mentioned flight pattern.
  2. Compliance with the TA procedure; all criteria for using TA are met with the correct handling of all limitations. Even though the SD is used, it is obligatory that the aircraft structure is compliant with the TA procedure and that some limitations and situations are handled correctly.

The first point is easy to fulfill yet still important. However, the second point is critical for the operator not to mess up. An operator must always comply with the TA procedure when flying to and within the EU. Please, ask for our advice to secure compliance on this matter.

The use of the SD (point 1) must never mistakenly be seen as a tool to endorse compliance with the TA procedure (as in point 2). That is not how it works.

What to do if an operator wants to use the Supporting Document when arriving within the EU?
Essentially, the crew can use the SD themselves when arriving at the first airport within the EU. We will be glad to prepare the SD with the specific aircraft data, so the crew can use the SD themselves and ask local customs at the arriving airport to endorse the SD.

What is the Supporting Document meant to endorse?
The SD only confirms that an aircraft has arrived within or exited the EU – nothing else. No customs procedure can endorse an entry that has not yet happened. It is, therefore, a common and illogical misunderstanding that any future entries into the EU can be endorsed in advance by using the SD.

Is the Supporting Document always valid for a six-month period?
The answer is no – unless the aircraft is staying within the EU till the end of the six-month period, then it is, of course, valid throughout the six months. Also, the SD is not meant to endorse several entries. It only confirms that an aircraft has arrived in the EU and eventually exited again. Nor does the SD grant the aircraft free circulation status for a six-month period, which is a common misunderstanding when using the TA procedure.

The SD is only valid as long as the aircraft has not left the EU and for a maximum of six months. A new SD must be processed upon the next entry even though there is still some time left out of the six months mentioned in the field “period for discharge”.The six months mentioned here is the maximum stay of the specific entry whereupon the form is stamped (in customs terms; period for discharge). Again, if the aircraft has been flying outside the EU after the first entry, it is a common misunderstanding that any future entries into the EU within the first six months will be endorsed in advance by using this form – it will not.

Will the Supporting Document protect against missing TA compliance and wrong handling of the TA limitations?
The answer is no. The SD cannot endorse TA compliance even though the SD is processed correctly by an EU customs agency. The operator is still obliged to comply with the TA procedure continuously when flying within the EU, and the SD does not grant the aircraft free circulation or a fly freely status for a six-month period, which is a common misunderstanding when using the TA procedure.

The use of the Supporting Document can be beneficial
Having the SD ready in the aircraft or actively using the SD indicates that the operator understands the use of TA, which is a good start if approached by customs.

Have you seen the other parts of this topic? Part 2 Part 3

What is right and wrong?
We acknowledge that there are many different opinions concerning this issue. Still, we are completely confident that the above explanation is strictly correct as it is based upon dialogues and various working papers from the EU Commission, backed by multiple 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 consulting importing companies, 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. Moreover, the TA procedure has since 2014 continuously become a very well-defined customs procedure, especially for corporate and commercial aviation.

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 TA procedure has become a very well-defined customs procedure
Please note that 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. Moreover, 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 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 2 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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