Let's say that I have an Italian PPL licence and with my I- registered aircraft (small Cessna example) I want to fly in the US or in Argentina, then ICAO rules allow me to do that. Am I correct?

(I think ICAO rules let you fly in another ICAO country if you have your licence and aircraft from same country)

Assuming that, would I be able to do the same thing if my aircraft is registered in another EASA country like Germany (D- registration)?

And a final question: What if instead of PPL and Cessna, we put EASA glider licence and a glider?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation.SE maximus. Interesting question! $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


Under ICAO rules, if Germany 'validates' your Italian license then yes, you can fly the German aircraft in other countries:

Use of flight crew licences on foreign-registered aircraft

Any pilot who wishes to fly on an aircraft registered in a State other than the one that has issued the licence, needs to obtain an authorization from the State of Registry. This authorization is generally given by the State of Registry through a validation or a conversion of the foreign licence. In general, the validation process is used for short-term authorization while the conversion process is used for longer-term authorization.

What 'validation' means here is up to the country where the aircraft is registered. ICAO itself doesn't define what they should do:

When a State validates a foreign licence, it recognizes it as valid for use on aircraft on its own registry. The Convention on International Civil Aviation and its Annex 1 do not contain specific requirements for the validation of licences beyond establishing the principle and the fact that the validity of a validation, cannot be extended beyond the validity of the supporting licence.

In the US specifically, these ICAO rules are implemented in 14 CFR 61.3 (emphasis mine):

(b) Required pilot certificate for operating a foreign-registered aircraft within the United States. No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft of foreign registry within the United States, unless—

(1) That person's pilot certificate or document issued under §61.29(e) is in that person's physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate; and

(2) Has been issued in accordance with this part, or has been issued or validated by the country in which the aircraft is registered.

Practically speaking, I would say that if you have some official piece of paper from the German authorities confirming that you are authorized to operate German aircraft - or at least this German aircraft - then you're good to go. The piece of paper may even be unnecessary as far as Germany is concerned, but if you plan on flying internationally then I think the more pieces of official paper that you have, the better.

  • $\begingroup$ Understood, so if I have an Italian licence, a German plane and want to fly in US I need a "validation" of my italian licence from Germany, but not if I fly for example in Spain since all (licence, aircraft and country of flight) are within EASA "zone". This is crazy haha!! $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ @maximusboscus Yes, that's my understanding of the ICAO information. ICAO doesn't define "validation" so it's possible that Germany has defined it as "if the license comes from another EASA country it's automatically valid". For a reliable answer, I would ask both the German and Italian authorities. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ Update for anyone landing here in 2018 or later: new licences are now automatically validated between different member states of EASA. These licences contain a phrase that references the following document: easa.europa.eu/downloads/46139/en $\endgroup$
    – Timo Kluck
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ @TimoKluck this is indeed very good news. Especially now that national glider licences are all being converted to EASA SPL. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2022 at 0:40

By treaty, if you are flying Italian-registered aircraft you cannot be legally denied to fly virtually anywhere in the world, including the United States. Some countries will try to bully you into taking tests, especially for instrument flying, but whether this would hold up in court is dubious. Treaty law is very powerful, at least in the United States, and in a US Federal Court, if you can cite treaty, it completely overrules any FAA "regulations". For this reason, it is EXTREMELY rare for the FAA to question a foreign pilot's credentials, because they know if it went to court they could get their ass kicked for treaty violations, which is taken very seriously by Federal judges.

If you are flying a foreign-registered aircraft (not your own country), you need to have a license from that country (in this case Germany), or from the United States. You can "convert" your Italian license into a US one, but the process is a pain in the ass and takes several months.

For gliders it is the same deal as a powered aircraft. As long as it is an Italian glider you are good to go. For US gliders it completely depends on where you are getting the glider from. For example, at our club there is a French guy who is an expert glider pilot, but the instructors at our club will not let him fly the club gliders. They are giving him check ride after check ride. He spent the whole summer in "check rides". It was a joke because he was a better glider pilot than a lot of the instructors. He probably would have been better off going through the hassle of getting a conversion.

  • $\begingroup$ Tyler thank you for your answer. When you write “For US gliders it completely depends on where you are getting the glider from” are you saying it depends on which US state you are getting the glider?? I thought FAA rules are independent from (US) states. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ Second question: So implicitly you are telling me that the fact that I can fly within all EASA countries regardless of my licence country and aircraft registration country (always EASA) DOES NOT apply outside. This begins to ressemble to this question and this confirmation from the FAA. Are my assumptions correct? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ It has nothing to do with the state. If you are renting a glider, it depends on who you are renting from. Some clubs will happily rent you a glider no questions asked. Others (like ours) will want to give you a colonoscopy before letting you get in the cockpit. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ (Second question) Right, in the US you either need to have a (1) US license, (2) a conversion, or (3) your license must match the registration on your aircraft. The terms of the treaty only apply to foreign pilots flying aircraft registered in their country of origin. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ @TylerDurden That's not quite correct: 61.3 says "issued or validated" by the country of the aircraft. So as long as Germany "validates" his license, it doesn't have to actually be a German one. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:44

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