Distantly related to this question, but can a non-US citizen (or corporation) own an N-registered aircraft?


1 Answer 1


Nothing in the regulations seems to preclude it - but there are some conditions you have to meet per the FAA:

  • An individual who is a United States citizen,
  • A partnership each of whose partners is an individual who is a U.S. citizen,
  • A corporation or association:
    • organized under the laws of the U.S. or a State, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or possession,
    • of which the president and at least two-thirds of the board of directors and other managing officers are U.S citizens, and
    • in which at least 75% of the voting interest is owned or controlled by persons that are U.S. citizens,
  • An individual citizen of a foreign country lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.,
  • A U.S. governmental unit or subdivision
  • A non-U.S. citizen corporation organized and doing business under the laws of the U.S. or one of the States as long as the aircraft is
    based and primarily used in the U.S.
    (60% of all flight hours must be from flights starting and ending within the U.S.)

(emphasis added)

So Toyota could not buy an aircraft and register it to their main company in Japan on the US registry, nor could they buy & register it under a US Subsidiary and subsequently fly it off to Japan to live out the rest of its days shuttling executives around Asia.
A Toyota executive with Permanent Resident status could buy themselves a nice Cirrus and register it on the US Registry though.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There are plenty of N-reg aircraft in Europe that will never see the US again. See also this question: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8750/… $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2014 at 21:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @SentryRaven Indeed - if they're owned by one of the first three types of entities there seems to be nothing wrong with that. (And if they're owned by the forth kind of entity? Well there's the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, and the practice of the law - the three are often only loosely related. :-} ) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Oct 29, 2014 at 21:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've wondered about how people get an N registration as a European. Guess they set up a paper company or non-profit in the US for a token registration fee at some chamber of commerce, they're now a US company, and the company owns the aircraft? $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Oct 30, 2014 at 8:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It would be ironic if Chrysler (now owned by Fiat) lost the right to own an N-reg aircraft based on the 75% voting interest owned by US citizens rule. (Since Toyota was brought up as an example in the answer.) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Sep 21, 2015 at 12:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan That 75% thing is an interesting provision, but it's not the only applicable one - it deals with US corporations, while the question is about NON-citizens (and thus NON-US corporations by extension). Fiat could simply re-register all the aircraft under Fiat if necessary (doing business in the US, and meeting the 60% requirement). $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Sep 21, 2015 at 17:52

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