I'm looking at filing out an 8050-1 for a new airplane in the US and the FAA is asking me for my name, and address. My concern is that once I register these bits of information, specifically my home address, become publicly available. So I'm wondering is there anyway of registering an aircraft tag in a way that keeps that information private? Are there any proxy registration services that exist for this purpose?
The 'usual' alternative is to have the aircraft owned by a legal entity like an LLC or trust of some kind (trusts are also used by foreigners who own N-reg aircraft). But that only adds a layer of obfuscation: if someone really wants to know who owns the aircraft then they can dig into the LLC or trust ownership details. That information is usually also public although it's at the state level not federal level.
The best thing here is to talk to an attorney in your state, preferably one with aviation experience. He can tell you what legal entities might fit your needs, as well as the pros, cons and costs of each one.
There are several ways to have an address that isn't your house.
Private mail box
"Arizona" Joe Flyer
24 W Camelback Road #9999
Phoenix AZ 85013
This is a privately managed version of the PO Box with a number of enhancements. The address looks like a street address, so most askers who won't accept a mailbox will accept a PMB. The PMB staff can forward your mail to you anytime or at intervals, tell you if you have mail if you call, and even call you if something comes in. They can also accept from any carrier (even Amazon) and forward via any carrier. It is maybe twice the cost of a PO box.
You must give it a real address. It is state licensed so it will answer any subpoena.
Delaware-Chesapeake Bay Flyers LLC
905 Broadway St. #9999
Sheridan Wyoming 82801
Having an LLC own a plane makes so much sense for other reasons - not least, reducing the considerable liability of your plane crashing into something valuable. With individual ownership that liability is bottomless. With LLC or corporate structure, the LLC goes bankrupt and you're in the clear. This arrests your liability as the plane's owner, but not your liability as its pilot.
Taxwise, if you're the only member, the IRS calls it a "disregarded entity" and counts it as if it's part of you (e.g. a proprietorship).
LLCs have members and managers. Members own, managers control. There are some useful liability-containment tricks possible with this.
States register LLCs. Most states will cheerfully hand owner the addresses of the LLC members, though most will allow PO boxes and PMBs. Some states shield/conceal the LLC member addresses from casual inquiry, notably Wyoming and Nevada. My undertanding is they also put up roadblocks to legal inquiry, refusing to answer subpoenas from other states, forcing the suer to re-sue in their state or Federal court.
Annual cost is
- typically 20 dollar annual registration in your home state (lots more in CA or MA)
- if you don't staff a physical location 9-5, then a Registered Agent in your home state ($50-300/year) - his duty is to accept service of lawsuits, hence the need to be open during business hours. If you already have a lawyer with an office, he'll do.
- if registered out of state, business license there
- if registered out of state, a Registered Agent in that state