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Flying Abroad

The ability to travel freely is surely what a Pilot licence is for?

When you have thoroughly explored your immediate surroundings, the next step must be to cross the UK water boundaries, or land borders, and go foreign either for a day trip or an extended tour.

The possibilities are only as limited as your sense of adventure. Once you have tasted this freedom of flight there is no going back!

New Customs Reporting Requirements for General Aviation (GA) from 1 January 2022 (GB & NI):

Download a copy of the new Reporting arrangements for GA from/to GB

Download a copy of the new Reporting arrangements for GA to/from NI

An ICAO compliant Pilot licence that is valid in the country/countries you are flying to or overflying and for the aircraft type and state of Registration you are flying;

  • The most widely accepted licences are PPL, CPL, ATPL
  • A UK national, sub-ICAO LAPL or other non-EASA state issued licence may not be accepted, you should check with your licence issuer or the national AIP of the relevant country/countries
  • A valid medical for your licence
  • A current rating for the aircraft you will use

A current certificate of airworthiness or permit to fly that is recognised by the country/countries you are flying to or overflying;

  • A CAA certificate of airworthiness is likely to be accepted everywhere
  • An EASA Permit to Fly may not be be recognised outside EASA states
  • For any other permit to fly you should check with the controlling regulator and/or the country/countries you are flying to or overflying

The required aircraft documents and equipment

Survival equipment for extended flight over water, beyond glide range.

To help avoid confusion about operational and administrative requirements following the end of the Brexit transition period, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) have produced guidance to help Business aviation operators consider the changes that Brexit has brought to their operations:

Where aircraft can arrive and depart

Locations an aircraft may arrive or depart fall into 3 categories and are dependent on where you are departing from or arriving at:

  • Airports designated as customs & excise and/or designated immigration ports of entry by the Border Force and/or Police
  • Non designated customs and excise airports, operating under a Certificate of Agreement (CoA); and
  • Aerodromes that are neither designated nor have a Certificate of Agreement e.g. small airfields, landing strips and some helipads

Designated airports

Airports can broadly have 3 types of designation:

  • Customs & Excise
  • Immigration
  • Police

Flights using an airport designated as a customs & excise airport may fly to/from any destination. All ports designated as immigration ports of entry are also designated as customs & excise airports

Where an aircraft is carrying any paying passengers (including air taxi and similar arrangements) between any of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Common Travel Area the aircraft must use a police designated airport unless specific authority has been given by the relevant police force.

Certificate of Agreement airports

For customs purposes certain airports not designated by customs & excise operate under a CoA which is managed by Border Force. The agreement sets out what flights the operator is allowed to handle and, where applicable, any permitted customs operations that can take place e.g. the permanent importation of an aircraft.

When intending to arrive or depart from Great Britain or Northern Ireland for the first time at a CoA airport, you should check the airport is approved to handle your flight, given that CoA may restrict where flights can arrive and depart, and the purpose of the flight e.g. transporting passengers or the permanent importation of the aircraft.

Other GA locations that are neither designated nor hold a CoA

The UK has left the European Union, some controls will now be placed on the movement of goods and people between the UK and the EU. Section 21 (1) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 provides the legal basis for the UK Customs Authorities to allow aircraft to land or depart from anywhere other than a designated customs and excise airport.

Non-customs and excise designated aerodromes (i.e. smaller aerodromes and air strips currently receiving general aviation flights operating to and from EU countries) will require a CoA to continue handling these flights.

To maintain border fluidity and ensure ongoing compliance, from 1 January 2021 an ‘interim’ CoA has been issued to non-customs and excise designated aerodromes for a period of 18 months. This will permit that aerodrome to continue to handle international passenger flights.

Non-customs and excise designated aerodromes that handle GA permitted international flights are now covered by a blanket interim Certificate of Agreement (CoA) until 31 December 2023.

CoA aerodromes that handle limited freight will not be captured by this blanket and will need to apply full customs controls from 1 January 2022.

If you intend to travel to or from the UK using a non-designated aerodrome, you must contact the aerodrome owner or operator to ensure the aerodrome is covered under the interim CoA approval and has received correspondence from HMRC and Border Force.

If an airfield is not listed in Annex C of the Border Force GAR guidance it is regarded as a non-designated airport. Therefore an operator must contact the airfield in advance to confirm they are covered by an interim CoA. 

See here for full details.

Duty Free extended to the EU from January 2021.

Full details of duty free and personal allowances can be found here.

Your point of arrival or departure to or from the UK must be a designated airport of entry/departure, with Customs and Immigration (or Police in some states) services and you must have complied with any Prior Notice Requirements (see the relevant national AIP AD Specific and any NOTAM updates). 

Official Ports of Entry should be found in the relvant State AIP GEN 1.1 to 1.4. Note that there may be prior notice requirements that must be met.  

With the exception of Switzerland, usually if your point of arrival is within the Schengen Area and you are traveling between Schengen member states you may  arrive at or depart from any airfield. Note that you will still need to file a Flight Plan if crossing an FIR boundary into another state. If you are leaving the Schengen area at any point you must depart from a designated airport of entry/departure.

With a heightened state of security alert in many EU Countries there may be temporary changes made to entry/exit requirements even between Schengen member states. These should be promulgated by NOTAM, but may not be issued in a timely manner. You may also find details of any Schengen state that has temporarily reintroduced border controls here. If border controls have been reintroduced then you may need to arrive at/depart from a designated port of entry with Customs and Immigration services. If border controls have been reintroduced, requiring passenger information for intra-EU flights, these controls should only apply to commercial air carriers and not private flights. However, this distinction may not be understood by all border staff.

For Switzerland, even though a part of the Schengen area, they are not a member of the EU or the Customs Union. This means that while there is freedom of movement of people, there is not free movement of goods. Therefore, for flights to/from Switzerland you must use customs airports.

If you are flying to/from the UK you will need to submit a General Aviation Report (GAR), sometimes referred to as a GENDEC. 

The GAR Form Submission Instructions may be read and downloaded here.

The notification requirements for the GAR form are:

  • Inbound from EU countries (excluding Republic of Ireland) – minimum 4 hours prior to arrival
  • To/From the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (the Common Travel Area (CTA))– minimum 12 hours prior to departure/arrival
  • To/From other non-EU countries – minimum 4 hours prior to departure/arrival
  • To/From other non-EU countries – 24 hours prior to departure/arrival

You can submit the GAR form via the following methods:

If anyone onboard the aircraft has a non-EU or non-UK passport, you will need to consider their visa requirements as well.

Submission of a GAR does NOT replace the need to comply separately with any PPR, PNR or flight plan requirements.

You will receive acknowledgement by email if you submit via the OnlineGAR method. Submissions via email or fax will receive NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the GAR submission. If you hear nothing to the contrary, continue with your planned flight knowing that you MAY be checked either before departure from or on arrival into the UK.

If you are using another GAR submission service provider you should check what, if any, acknowledgement you will get.

Many countries require GENDEC's to be submitted either in advance or on arrival to the relevant Authority, normally Customs or Police. Sometimes these are only required at certain airports of arrival. We suggest that, if there are no sources of country specific GENDEC's, you take a printed copy of your UK GAR form. We are aware of the following online sources for GENDEC's:

Alderney & Guernsey:


Ireland:  [NOTE: We understand that the email address to submit to has changed to]


Netherlands :

Some airports of entry may require advance Prior Notice of arrival and departure to/from the UK. Any such requirement will be found in the relevant national AIP AD Specific. Changes, including withdrawal of airport of entry status, may first be promulgated by an airfield NOTAM.

Flying Revue Website

A team of Flyers have opened a new, international website It contains videos and photos taken during their flight expeditions as well as information on VFR flying in various countries in Europe. We will be gradually adding more videos as well as information.

All information sources should be checked as valid and current. AOPA UK provides this link for information only and does not verify any content.

If you are renting an aircraft for self-fly hire in the USA, as a non-US citizen you may not be covered by the Aircraft Insurance, or you may find that the insurance cover is less than you would like. You are advised to fully check in advance what liability cover you will have and what, if any, excess or damages you may be required to pay in the event of an accident or damage to the aircraft.

It is possible to obtain Renters Insurance cover as a non-US citizen. For example: Avemco Insurance Company.

If you apply for a quote you will be emailed a questionnaire, in which you will need to provide a range of details, including a US Mailing Address, e.g. the FBO you are hiring the aircraft from or your accommodation address if it is fixed for your stay. There is a 5% discount for AOPA members from Avemco Insurance Company.

As a member of a non-US AOPA you should be given a response if you contact AOPA USA for advice here.

During COVID-19 restrictions, many countries, including the UK, require health declarations for Contact Tracing and to check that quarantine rules are being met where relevant, typically referred to as a Passenger Location form.

Because entry requirements and travel advice is subject to rapid change, rather than give fixed links please use the GOV.UK website on travel advice, which includes entry requirements.

Foreign Travel Advice:

Entry into the UK:

Also General Passenger Health declaration for inward or outward flights (C155):




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