I once had a traffic controller give me a hard time about how I requested IFR clearance once in the air. I had previously filed an IFR flight plan, and took off from my untowered home airport. On approach control's frequency, I said:

Tampa Approach, Cirrus 123AB, 5 miles southeast of Tampa Exec at 1000 feet, IFR to Ft. Lauderdale Exec

The approach controller responded, annoyed, saying something like "Well do you have an IFR flight plan or are you reporting IFR??"

I had always used that phraseology because it seems the least wordy way to get the info across, which can be helpful when the freq is busy. What is the technically correct way to get an IFR clearance on an existing IFR flight plan?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Looks like you generally omit a key word, request". Just make it request IFR to FXE. $\endgroup$
    – slookabill
    Feb 19, 2015 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


There is one example in the AIM used for transitioning from VFR to IFR, and it how I've always done it:

AIM 5-2-5. Abbreviated IFR Departure Clearance (Cleared … as Filed) Procedures

"Los Angeles center, Apache Six One Papa, VFR estimating Paso Robles VOR at three two, one thousand five hundred, request IFR to Bakersfield."

Reference: 5−2−5. Abbreviated IFR Departure Clearance (Cleared … as Filed) Procedures (13 MB PDF)

Notice that they specifically say "VFR" right before their current location and also use the word "request" to make it clear what they are looking for. I would change your request to:

Tampa Approach, Cirrus 123AB, VFR 5 miles southeast of Tampa Exec at 1000 feet, request IFR to Ft. Lauderdale Exec

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You might want to make it clear that you have an IFR flight plan on file - e.g. "..., request IFR as filed to <dest>" or "..., IFR request, on file, to <dest>" $\endgroup$
    – sdtom
    Mar 6, 2014 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ @sdtom You can do that if you like, but it would be non-standard. This is right from the AIM. :) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Mar 6, 2014 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ For the last part, i've always said "...Would like to pick up our clearance to Ft Lauderdale Exec" so he knows the flight plan is already filed and this is not a pop-up request. $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Feb 7, 2015 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ also, the "VFR" portion is to reduce controller workload, so he not wondering where the hell did this airplane come from and why doesnt he have it on his screen and where is the ticket $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Feb 7, 2015 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ To add to the above (especially @rbp), the controller should have a proposed IFR departure strip in front of them and should know this isn't just a pop-up air-file request, but the strip may have gotten lost, or may not have been delivered to them yet, or if you're early and it's more than 30 minutes before the proposed departure time it won't have printed out yet. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Mar 10, 2021 at 2:31

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