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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

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.

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). 

With the exception of Switzerland, 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.

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.

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. You may also find details of any Schengen state that has temporarily reintroduced border controls here. If border controls have been reintroduced then you willneed to arrive at/depart from a designated port of entry with Customs and Immigration services.

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: https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=90475&p=0

Ireland: http://flyinginireland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IrishGARForm.pdf

Jersey: http://www.gov.je/Travel/MaritimeAviation/CivilAviation/Pages/PrivatePilots.aspx

Netherlands : https://www.gendec.nl/

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 www.flying-revue.com. 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.

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