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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!

A Pilot licence that is valid in the country/countries you are flying to or overflying and for the aircraft type you are flying;

  • The most widely accepted licences are EASA licences; LAPL, PPL, CPL, ATPL
  • A UK national 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;

  • An EASA 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.

Great Britain (UK) comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK Mainland comprises England, Scotland and Wales.

The Isle of Man and Channel Islands (Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey) are Crown Dependencies of the UK.

Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands comprise the Common Travel Area (CTA) which has significance for flights, even though you can drive from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland or sail to any part of the CTA beyond the UK Mainland freely. Who said Politicians were logical? Fair and equal treatment for General Aviation is just one of AOPA's objectives.

Great Britain is a member of the EU at the time of writing. Other regions of the the CTA, other than the Republic of Ireland, are not.

Great Britain and the other regions of the CTA are not Schengen Area member states.

To summarise the information :

  UK? EU? CTA? Schengen?
Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) Yes Yes Yes No
UK Mainland (England, Scotland, Wales)    Yes Yes Yes No
Republic of Ireland No Yes Yes No
Isle of Man No No Yes No
Channel Islands No No Yes No

Until 31 December 2020 You can fly depart from or arrive at any airfield in the UK to or from any EU Country.

If you wish to fly to or from a non-EU Country, including regions of the CTA that are not on the UK Mainland, you must use a UK Designated airfield, that has Customs and Immigration services, or a UK airfield that has a Certificate of Agreement. See page 10 of this document.

For an airfield with a Certificate of Agreement you should contact the Owner/Operator to determine the terms of the agreement and understand any restrictions or requirements.

You must comply with any minimum notice periods prior to departure or arrival. See the UK & CTA Customs and Immigration Procedures section below.


Flying from small aerodromes and air strips to Europe after the UK’s transition period with the European Union ends on 31 December 2020 will continue to be possible so long as the airfield operator has a Certificate of Agreement from Border Force.

The government has written to airfield and strip operators handling General Aviation flights to and from Europe advising the need for the certificate. Any aerodrome or air strip that has received an inbound flight within the past 12 months should have received the letter.

A Certificate of Agreement (CoA) is an agreement between non-Customs and Excise designated aerodromes and the UK Customs Authorities. It is issued by the Border Force National Frontier Approvals Unit (NFAU) and permits the aerodrome to handle a specific range of flights from third countries, which will include EU countries at the end of the transition period.

“From 1 January 2021 until 30 June 2022 your aerodrome will be covered by a ‘blanket’ interim CoA which will allow you to continue operating permitted flights to and from EU countries until you obtain an individual CoA,” says the letter. “You do not need to take any action to receive this interim CoA as it will be done automatically.”

To continue operating flights to and from EU countries after 1 July 2022, aerodromes will need to be operating under a standard, individual CoA.

“Border Force will visit you during the coming months and discuss this with you as well as your obligations under CEMA,” continues the letter.

“Failure to obtain a standard, individual CoA from the NFAU by 1 July 2022 will mean that you will be limited to handling domestic flights only.”

There are restrictions on the flights that non-Customs and Excise designated aerodromes can handle, and these are set out below. They include no merchandise in baggage, no freight and restrictions on passenger numbers.

List of Restrictions

HMRC legislation advises that an aircraft can only land at approved aerodromes or airstrips. It is the responsibility of the aerodrome operator to comply with the conditions of the CoA and to ensure they do not accept aircraft/flights that are not permitted under its terms.

As per CEMA 1979, Section 21 (6), any person contravening or failing to comply with any provision of the ‘Control of movement of aircraft into and out of the UK’ shall be liable on summary conviction. Please note that there are penalties in place for failing to comply with any provisions of CEMA and this could lead to imprisonment in certain circumstances.

  • Restricted to the handling of General Aviation flights only i.e. the handling of international scheduled/chartered flights is not permitted.
  • Restrictions on the number of travellers arriving in an aircraft based on the ability to safely control the number of passengers.
  • The importation or exportation of international freight/cargo subject to any form of duty, levy or other customs charge or other formality including any form of licensing requirements is not permitted. Cargo must be handled at a Customs and Excise designated airport.
  • The importation or exportation of Merchandise in Baggage (i.e. goods carried for commercial purposes by passengers in accompanied baggage on private aircraft from/to Third Countries requiring customs clearance) is not permitted. Merchandise in Baggage must be handled at a Customs and Excise designated airport.
  • Airports/Airfields/Aerodromes will be required to allow access to enable Border Force to carry out customs duties as laid out in CEMA s33.
  • The importation or exportation of civil aircraft is not permitted unless specific permission is granted from the BF National Frontiers Approval Unit (NFAU).
  • The receipt of civil aircraft landing in the UK for refuelling only is not permitted unless specific permission is requested from the BF NFAU.

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). 

This a link to an unofficial map of French Customs Airports of Entry/Exit for 2018. 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 land at 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 the aerodrome you operate out of holds a Certificate of Agreement (CoA) issued by Border Force’s National Frontier Approval Unit on behalf of HMRC, then general aviation flights are currently permitted to and from Rest of World (non-EU) countries, including the Channel Islands. With effect from the end of the transition period at 11pm on 31st December these agreements will also cover flights to and from European Union (EU) Member States. 

The importation or exportation of goods is not permitted at CoA aerodromes. If you are currently handling goods from or to the EU this will not be possible without appropriate customs approvals from 1st July 2021. Between 1st January and 30th June 2021, CoA aerodromes can continue to handle occasional goods from the EU, but traders must comply with the border controls (including requirements for declarations) in place during this period. Further details on operating out of aerodromes without existing customs control systems are provided below.

Border controls at CoA aerodromes from 1st January 2021 until 30th June 2021

  • Traders can continue to import EU goods or export goods to the EU using a CoA aerodrome until 30 June 2021 providing it is listed as an ‘Other listed location’ at If it is not listed, the aerodrome operator should contact the Industry Engagement (BD2D) team’s mailbox:
  • If you are importing standard goods from EU free circulation to GB free circulation, you can make a declaration into your own records at the time of import and you will have up to 175 days after the date of import to submit the supplementary declaration to HMRC. You or someone dealing with customs for you will need to have authorisation to use simplified declarations and access to a duty deferment account by the time you need to make your first supplementary declaration. See guidance at
  • If you are importing controlled EU goods, you must pre-lodge an import declaration in HMRC systems and you will have up to the end of the next working day to notify HMRC that the goods have entered the country by manually arriving the declaration in HMRC systems. The same process applies to non-controlled goods if you choose not to (or are not eligible to) make a declaration in your own records.
  • Customs processes are complex, and you may want to consider getting someone to deal with customs for you. See guidance
  • If exporting goods you must submit safety and security information either via a combined export declaration or a standalone exit summary declaration for all goods. You should submit an arrived export declaration for all goods and not take the goods to the aerodrome until permission to progress (P2P) has been issued.
  • Messages will not need to be sent to HMRC confirming that goods have left GB other than by traders exporting excise duty suspended goods (such as alcohol or tobacco products). For these, traders or the aerodrome will need to confirm manually to HMRC that the goods have left GB, either using a CHIEF loader badge or by submitting a form C1602 to the National Clearance Hub. See guidance
  • Those moving goods through locations without existing control systems may need to provide evidence that a declaration has been made. At these locations, Border Force will continue to do intelligence led checks.
  • The above guidance does not apply to movements of goods to and from Northern Ireland.

Border controls at COA aerodromes from 1 July 2021

To continue moving occasional goods from EU Member States into GB after 30th June 2021 the aerodrome you use must be either:

- designated as a customs and excise airport meeting the standards for full controls; or

- have approval to handle a limited range of imports (which will be bound by the same rules as at Customs & Excise airports).

  • If the aerodrome does not have the required approval, you must cease handling EU goods there and use an airport which has the necessary approval for these movements.
  • You will need to make declarations and follow the processes for controlling goods at the airport you use.

To be designated as a customs and excise airport, the aerodrome operator must apply to the National Frontiers Approval Unit ahead of July 2021:

E-mail address:

Postal address:
Border Force,
1st Floor,
Admin Block,
The Cargo Centre,
Birmingham International Airport,
B26 3QN

For further guidance please see:

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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