When flying outside the US it is advisable to follow the FAA rules when they are stricter than ICAO, and when it does not violate the local flight governing body's rules.

Can you still be fined or get into trouble or does the FAA only have jurisdiction in USA airspace?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you flying a US registered airplane? $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


The FAA only has Jurisdiction over US airspace and you must follow the rules of the airspace you are flying in/through. If you are talking about N registered airplanes they must follow FAA rules for airworthiness etc. even if they are kept outside the country.

Here is in interesting question on breaking laws on a plane in general (sort of applicable here)

Side Note: Although the FAA does not have jurisdiction outside US airspace if there is an accident involving a US built aircraft (mainly Boeings at this point) the NTSB will send a representative to compile their own report (and aid in the investigation). I know this happens for commercial accidents I am unaware if they send representatives for US build GA plane accidents outside the country.

Side Note 2: US pilots licenses are valid elsewhere in the world and allow you to fly elsewhere in the world certain actions elsewhere in the world (if caught/reported) may lead to the revocation of your US issued license. There is some info on that here


In international flying you are the servant of many masters.
Off the top of my head you would be answerable to:

  • The country in whose airspace you are flying.
    If the country you're flying in requires you to walk backwards around the aircraft three times while singing Hakuna Matata prior to takeoff you best start warming up your singing voice.
    In a more practical example some countries require flight plans for all flights (including VFR flights) - if you're a US pilot flying a US-registered aircraft under visual flight rules in one of those countries you would still need to file a flight plan with the appropriate authorities, even though that's not required under US regulations.

  • The country in which your aircraft is registered.
    A US-registered aircraft is subject to US airworthiness requirements, regardless of where it is being operated. If you ignore an airworthiness directive your airworthiness certificate is invalid (and thus you likely can't operate that aircraft anywhere, as the various reciprocal agreements and treaties which would let you operate that aircraft in other countries are contingent upon the airworthiness certificate being "valid").
    In addition to airworthiness requirements there may be other requirements or restrictions imposed on your aircraft by its nation or registry.

  • The country which issued your pilot's certificate / air carrier certificate.
    A certificated entity is obligated to comply with the regulations of the agency/country issuing that certificate. So a US scheduled airline is still obligated to comply with Part 121 of the FARs, and US pilots are obligated to comply with relevant sections of Part 61 and Part 91.
    For example, if you somehow find a country with no restriction on alcohol use and flying you're still bound by the 8-hour rule in 91.17 - your US (US-issued) pilot certificate could be suspended or revoked for violating that restriction, even if the country you're in doesn't care.

So in order for you flight to be legal you would need to comply with the most restrictive set of applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines.
Most aviation regulations are broadly similar (thanks to ICAO), so this is not usually a problem, but it's something you would need to be aware of prior to any flight in another country's airspace.


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