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What I mean by ‘Universal’ is to be used anywhere.

is this the case or do pilots flying between America and the UK just have both CAA and FAA ATPLs?

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If you are flying a "civil aircraft of the United States" (an "N" numbered aircraft) you may operate that aircraft between America and the UK (per your question) with just an FAA issued pilot certificate. See 14 CFR 61.3 Requirement for certificates, ratings and authorizations.

A separate pilot's license issued by the CAA when operating an "N" numbered aircraft in the UK is not required.

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  • $\begingroup$ The reverse would also be true. A UK registered airplane with a UK CAA certificated pilot need not also have a US ATP certificate. The rules are fairly straightforward in the U.S. You may fly any non-U.S. registered airplane within the boundaries of the U.S. with a FAA certificate. If you fly outside the U.S., you must fly a U.S. registered airplane. $\endgroup$
    – wbeard52
    Apr 11, 2023 at 22:12
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Annex 1 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) creates mimimum standards for crew licensing that all ICAO member nations recognize. The ICAO is an agency of the United Nations, and was established by the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation in 1947. So far, every UN member with the exception of Lichtenstein and the Holy See (no airports) have ratified the Chicago Convention and are members of the ICAO.

So yes, an FAA ATP license is recognized by treaty in nearly every UN member state.

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    $\begingroup$ Sadly this is not the case. The ICAO annexes provide recommended standards that countries can choose to adopt or lodge a "difference" to, and just continue to do their own thing. In practice, most (if not all) countries require you to go through a conversion process before flying an aircraft registered to that country. For example I can't just use my Australian licence to start flying for United, I'd have to convert it to a US certificate to fly an N registered aircraft in the States, and vice versa. However, a Lichtenstein licence is ineligible for conversion, as they are not recognized. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Apr 11, 2023 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Ben Good information, but just a point of clarification. Under (U.S.) FAR 61.75 you can use your Australian license and, based on that, be issued a restricted U.S. Private pilot certificate (based on your Australian license). This would be a separate pilot certificate, not a conversion. Even if you had an Australian CPL or ATPL you would only have Private pilot privileges when flying an "N" numbered aircraft. If you wanted to work for United you would have to acquire a full U.S. certificate following the normal steps and issued under FAR Part 61. $\endgroup$
    – user22445
    Apr 11, 2023 at 23:27

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