Aircraft Registration: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I search aircraft records?
The Aircraft Registration Inquiry contains aircraft registration information. You can also order individual aircraft records by mail, fax, or request copies of aircraft records online.

What aircraft are eligible for registration in the United States?
Eligibility is defined in Chapter 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 47. You can learn more about aircraft registration on our Register an Aircraft page.

What should I consider when buying a surplus military aircraft?
Certain surplus military aircraft are not eligible for FAA airworthiness certification in the standard, restricted, or limited classifications. Since you can't fly civil aircraft unless it's certificated as airworthy, you should discuss this with an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) at your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). This person can advise you on airworthiness certification procedures. An additional source for advice on amateur-built and surplus military aircraft is the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), located in Oshkosh, WI. You can reach them at (414) 426-4800.

Can new Airworthiness Directives and Special Airworthiness Information Bulletins about my aircraft and its engines be sent to me by e-mail?
Yes! You can subscribe to ADs and SAIBs at the FAA Regulatory & Guidance Library. Current and historical ADs are also available through RGL.

How do I replace my lost or worn out Certificate of Airworthiness?
Your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) processes replacement airworthiness certificates.

How do I find the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO)?
You can use our FSDO locator to find your local FSDO office. FSDOs are also listed in the U.S. Government pages of your local telephone book under Federal Aviation Administration.

How can I find out if the Aircraft Registration Branch received my registration documents?
You can check to see if the Aircraft Registration Branch received your documents using the Document Index search.

How long does it take to process aircraft registration documents?
Processing time is generally 12 to 16 workdays after documents arrive in our office. In compliance with statutory requirements, documents are worked in the order we receive them.

When will the Aircraft Registry website show my new address, reserved number, or new registration information?
We update the Aircraft Registration Inquiry website after close of business on each federal workday. You can find new information immediately following this update. Please allow ten days for processing N-Number reservations and renewals requested online. Allow 21 days from the mailing date for all other actions.

How do I report my stolen aircraft?
Stolen aircraft should be reported to your local law enforcement agnecy. Ask that they report the theft to the National Crime Information Center, as this will initiate notifications to the appropriate government offices. If enough time has passed that the return of the aircraft is no longer expected, the owner should write to the Aircraft Registration Branch requesting that the registration for this aircraft be canceled. The request should fully describe the aircraft, indicate the reason for cancellation, be signed in ink by the owner and show a title for the signer if appropriate.

Where do N-numbers come from?
The U.S. received the "N" as its nationality designator under the International Air Navigation Convention, held in 1919. The Convention prescribed an aircraft-marking scheme of a single letter indicating nationality followed by a hyphen and four identity letters (for example, G-REMS). The five letters together were to be the aircraft's radio call sign.

FAA Aircraft Registration


If you purchase an aircraft, you must apply for a Certificate of Aircraft Registration from the FAA Aircraft Registry before it can be operated.
Federal aviation regulation (FAR) Part 47 specifies the requirements for aircraft registration.
To be eligible for registration in the United States, an aircraft must be owned by:
1. A U.S. citizen, which can be an individual or a corporation. If a corporation, the president and two thirds of the board of directors must be U.S. citizens and 75% of the voting interest must be owned or controlled by U.S. citizens;
2. A resident alien;
3. A non-citizen corporation lawfully organized and doing business under the laws of the U.S. as long as the aircraft is used primarily in the U.S. (60% of all flights must be start and end in the U.S.); or
4. A U.S. Government unit or subdivision
Also to be eligible for registration in the United States, the aircraft cannot be registered in another country. So if the aircraft was previously registered in a foreign country make sure you have a copy of the de-registration notice. This is usually in the form of a telex or fax message from the foreign civil aviation authority to the FAA.

Necessary FAA Forms

N-Number Registration - Request for a custom N-number at the FAA (see links)

AC Form 8050-1 - Aircraft Registration Form (Original FAA Form Only)

AC Form 8050-2 - Aircraft Bill of Sale (Original FAA Form Only)

AC Form 8050-88 - Affidavit of Ownership

FAA Form 8130-6 - Application for Airworthiness Certificate (Word)

FAA Form 8130-12 - Eligibility Statement: Amateur-Built Aircraft (Word)

FAA Form 8610-2 - Application for Repairman Certificate (PDF)

FAA Form 8050-3 - Certificate of Aircraft Registration (Issued by FAA)

FAA Form 8130-7 - Special Airworthiness Certificate (Issued by FAA)

Letter - Requesting Airworthiness InspectionCertificate (Issued by FAA)

Letter - Requesting Airworthiness Inspection


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