Aircraft Registration

About Aircraft Registration Renewal

The Re-Registration and Renewal of Aircraft Registration final rule was published in the Federal Register on July 20, 2010, Page 41968. This rule provides that aircraft registrations issued on or after October 1, 2010, will be good for three years with the expiration date clearly shown.

Why Re-registration & Renewal?

Prompt reporting of a change in aircraft ownership, destruction, or mailing address changes to the Aircraft Registration Branch (Registry) has long been required by registration regulations. Without these reports from the owners, the aircraft registration records are not updated and quickly become unreliable. The Registry has revoked registrations due to unreported changes; however, this process is slow and expensive. In many cases registration would be revoked, but the notices were undeliverable. So, owners would be unaware they needed to take action regarding their now unregistered aircraft, and the Registry's data would remain unreliable.

The re-registration of all aircraft registered before October 1, 2010, took place under the rule between October 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013, updating the U.S. Civil Aircraft Register with current data derived from recent contact with aircraft owners. Renewal of registration every third year, along with other new tools, enables the Registry to keep aircraft registration information current. This data is essential for safety, regulatory enforcement, and all levels of law enforcement.

"These improvements will give us better knowledge about the state of the aviation industry, especially general aviation," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "We also are responding to calls from law enforcement and other government agencies for more accurate, up-to-date registration data."

How does Renewal Work?

  • Approximately six months before an aircraft's registration expires, the Registry will mail a notice with instructions to the owner using the mailing address of record. The notice will identify the expiration date, and a file-by date by which application must be made to enable arrival of the new certificate before the old certificate expires.
    • Application should be made as soon as possible, especially applications reporting changes that must be filed by mail. Filing promptly will leave time to address any errors in the application that require correction, or to re-send lost mail.
    • A security code provided in the notice enables on-line renewal and payment of the $5 renewal fee when there are no changes in ownership, address, or citizenship to report. If there are changes to report, the form can be completed on-line, printed, signed, and mailed with the $5 fee.
    • Filing promptly will not affect the new renewal expiration date. The expiration date on a renewal certificate will be three years from the expiration date on the old certificate when the application is filed on time.
    • When a post office or drop box is used as a mailing address, the street or physical address of the applicant must be entered on the aircraft registration application.
  • Two months before expiration, after the file-by date has passed, a second notice will be sent to owners of aircraft that have not yet been issued a renewal certificate.
    • Owners who filed their applications shortly before the file-by date may want to check the status of their Registration Renewal Application using the check status tool provided on the Aircraft Registry Menu page to confirm the filing of their application, or the issue of the renewal certificate.
    • The security code for on-line renewal application is also included in this notice. These late applicants are advised to make application without delay. Online applicants are advised to allow at least two weeks for mail delivery time when making application.
    • Applications that arrive at the Registry after the file by date have arrived late in the processing time line and the new certificate may be issued after the old certificate expires. During this interim, the aircraft would be without authority to operate.
  • If aircraft registration has expired and a renewal certificate has not been issued, received, and placed in the aircraft, then the aircraft is without authority to operate.
    • Expired certificates cannot be extended. This is why the process starts six months before expiration, when prompt action will enable the timely delivery of new certificates, and leave a few extra weeks to recover from most inadvertent errors.
    • If your application was received by the Registry before the expiration date, even if there is an error, the Registry will work with you to complete the registration renewal process.
    • If a renewal application was first received by the Registry after the expiration date, the renewal process no longer applies. An aircraft owner may apply for registration of an unregistered aircraft under 14 C.F.R. §4731(a), by filing an Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1, the $5.00 registration fee, and evidence of ownership (if it is not already on file at the Registry).
    • After the registration expiration date the Registry will send a notice to the owner to tell them when the N-number assignment is scheduled for cancellation. If the owner wishes to keep the N-number they must, before the cancelation takes place, send a request to the Registry asking that the aircraft's registration be cancelled and the N-number be reserved in the owner's name, accompanied by the $10.00 N-number reservation fee. If the N-number is canceled without being reserved, it will not be available for re-assignment or reservation for the next five years.
  • Aircraft registration issued due to renewal expires three years from the expiration date of the previous certificate.
  • Aircraft registration issued to a new, import, or reinstated aircraft entering or re-entering the U.S. Civil Aircraft Register expires three years after the last day of the month in which it is issued.
  • When an aircraft registration is not renewed, the cancellation of the N-number assigned to that aircraft will take place approximately 90 days after the expiration of an aircraft's registration. Upon cancellation, an N-number will be unavailable for re-assignment or reservation for a period of five years.
  • If aircraft registration has expired and no renewal application was filed, then application may be made to register the aircraft under 14 AC § 47.31, using the standard application for registration and payment of the $5 registration fee. The process to reinstate a previously registered aircraft remains unchanged.

Other changes in the regulations

With these changes the Registry and other system users will be better able to distinguish between validly registered aircraft and unregistered aircraft as the time aircraft are in transitional statuses will be limited.

  • When aircraft registration has ended as prescribed by §47.41 (e.g., expiration, destruction, etc.) the assignment of an N-number is no longer authorized for use. (The exception remains for the 90 day temporary operating authority of the second, or "pink," copy of the Aircraft Registration Application, following ownership transfers under §47.31(c)).
  • Six months after notice from the owner of an ownership transfer, if application for registration has not been made, the Registry will schedule the assigned N-number for cancellation.
  • Twelve months after a purchaser has filed evidence of ownership and applied for registration, if the applicant or successive applicants have not met the requirements for registration, then the Registry will schedule the assigned N-Number for cancellation.
  • Temporary operating authority, evidenced after the sale of a registered aircraft by retention and display of the second, or "pink," copy or the application for registration, will not be extended beyond one year from the date of the first application for registration filed.
  • Six months after a dealer's certificate holder has submitted evidence of ownership under § 47.67 and the dealer has not met registration requirements, the Registry will schedule the N-number for cancellation.
  • When a dealer's certificate expires, any aircraft registered under that certificate would be without registration and must be registered under normal registration procedures of §47.31 or §47.63; or the N-number will be scheduled for cancellation.
  • The effective date of an aircraft's registration is now the date on which the Registry determines that the submissions meet the requirements of Part 47.
  • An expired, aircraft registration certificate may be destroyed by its holder instead of returning it to the Registry.
  • Each person signing an aircraft registration application or a document submitted as supporting evidence under Part 47 must also type or legibly print their name in the signature block.
  • Minor changes to establish consistency and ensure the regulations conform to statute or current Registry practices.

Best way to prepare for Renewal

  • Look up your aircraft on the Search Aircraft Registration Information web page and verify that the mailing addresses and the names of owners shown are correct.
  • If the mailing address is wrong, the owner should update the address promptly.
  • If an ownership change has occurred, the seller should report the sale to the Registry by sending in their registration certificate with the reverse side completed. The purchaser should submit their application for registration, evidence of ownership and $5 registration fee to the Registry as soon as possible.

For additional information, contact the Aircraft Registration Branch.

Aircraft Registration Renewal FAQ

Last updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2022