Registration Certificate


Requirements for Registration:

  • Registration Certificate
    Registration Certificate
  • No person may operate an aircraft in the United States, unless the aircraft:
    • Has been registered by its owner;
    • Is carrying aboard the temporary authorization required FAR 47.31(c); or
    • Is an aircraft of the Armed Forces of the United States
  • Furthermore, the registration certificate is one of the required documents that must be carried aboard an aircraft in order for it to be considered airworthy
  • Registration Certificate
    Registration Certificate


  • An aircraft is eligible for U.S. Registration if:
    • It is not registered in a foreign country
    • The aircraft is owned by either:
      • A U.S. Citizen;
      • A Resident Alien;
      • A U.S. government unit or subdivision (States, District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, a territory, or possession of the U.S.); or,
      • A non-citizen corporation lawfully 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 flown from flights starting and ending within the U.S.)
  • Failure to meet any of the above requirements will invalidate the registration

Registration Certificate Issuance:

  • Initial Registration:

    • Registering an aircraft for the first time requires the following be sent to the Aircraft Registration Branch:
  • Registration Renewal:

    • Renewals are also processed by the Aircraft Registration Branch and require:
      • The Aircraft Registration Renewal Form, AC Form 8050-1B
      • A registration fee (as per 47.17) is required just as it would be for an initial registration
    • Renewals may be submitted during the six months preceding the expiration date
    • Pilots may operate up to 90 days beyond their registration expiration to account for any delays that may be experienced in the renewal process
    • A schedule is published within FAR 47.40
    • Effective Jan. 15, 2023, once an initial registration has been completed, renewals will be required, every 7 years
    • FAA Civil Aviation Registry Electronic Services (CARES) renewal page
  • Registration Processing:

    • Each application, request, notification, or other communication sent to the FAA under this Part must be mailed to the Registry:
      • Department of Transportation, Post Office Box 25504, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73125-0504, or delivered to the Registry at 6425 S. Denning Ave., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73169
    • If you use a P.O. Box as a mailing address, you must also provide your street or physical location on the application
    • Your application for aircraft registration must include the typed or printed name of each applicant with their signature in the signature block
    • Aircraft Registration Applications may be obtained from the Aircraft Registration Branch or your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO)
    • An aircraft is registered on the date the Registry determines that the submissions meet the requirements
      • The FAA will return any applications that do not include the printed or typed name of the signer
      • Aircraft will be assigned a registration number
      • The effective date of registration is shown by a date stamp on the Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1, and as the date of issue on the Certificate of Aircraft Registration, AC Form 8050-3


  • Registration certificates (AC Form 8050-3) expire every 3 years after an aircraft was registered, last renewed, or when any of the following occur:
    • The aircraft is registered under the laws of a foreign country
    • Surrendered to the FAA (revocation, cancellation)
    • The aircraft is totally destroyed or scrapped
    • The holder of the certificate loses their U.S. Citizenship
    • 30 days have elapsed since the death of the holder of the certificate
    • Ownership is transferred
    • The owner, if an individual who is not a citizen of the U.S., loses status as a resident alien, unless that person becomes a citizen of the U.S. at the same time
  • Corporations:

    • Discontinuance of business within the U.S. for any reason
    • The aircraft is no longer primarily based in the U.S.
  • Trustees:

    • Loses U.S. citizenship;
    • Loses status as a resident alien and does not become a citizen of the United States at the same time; or
    • In any manner ceases to act as trustee and is not immediately replaced by another who meets the requirements of Sec. 47.7(c)
  • Dealer Aircraft Registration:

    • A Dealer's Aircraft Registration Certificate, AC Form 8050-6, expires 1 year after the date it is issued
    • Each additional certificate expires on the date the original certificate expires or when:
      • Name change
      • Change of address
      • A change that affects status as a citizen of the United States; or
      • The discontinuance of business
  • Change of Status:

    • The owner must notify the FAA if:
      • Name change
      • Change of address (See FAR 47.45 for change of address procedures)
  • Renewal instructions can be found on the FAA's website with deadlines listed under Federal Aviation Regulation 47.41

Registration Certificate Replacement:

  • If the original Certificate of Aircraft Registration, AC Form 8050-3, is lost, stolen, or mutilated, the registered owner may submit to the Registry a written request that states the reason a replacement certificate is needed and the fee required by FAR 47.17
    • The Registry will send a replacement certificate to the registered owner's mailing address or to another mailing address if requested in writing by the registered owner
  • The registered owner may request a temporary Certificate of Aircraft Registration pending receipt of a replacement certificate
    • The Registry issues a temporary Certificate of Aircraft Registration in the form of a fax that must be carried in the aircraft until receipt of the replacement certificate

UAS Registration:

  • A person operating a civil small unmanned aircraft system (weighing above 0.55 grams) for purposes of flight must comply with the provisions of 91.203(a)(2) of this chapter
  • FAR 91.203(a)(2) states: "An effective U.S. registration certificate issued to its owner or, for operation within the United States, the second copy of the Aircraft registration Application as provided for in 47.31(c), a Certificate of Aircraft registration as provided in part 48, or a registration certification issued under the laws of a foreign country"
  • A UAS registration certificate is therefore required
  • The FAA provides guidance on how to register your drone

Registration Certification Knowledge Quiz:


  • The FAA registration database can be found at
  • The procedures for aircraft registration and issuance of registration numbers are contained in 14 CFR part 47, Aircraft Registration (part 47)
    • Keep in mind however, that registration of an aircraft is NOT a function of airworthiness certification but rather a prerequisite for issuance
    • Rather, the FAA must ensure that an aircraft presented for airworthiness certification is properly registered
  • Specific instructions on how to register an aircraft can be found on the FAA's Aircraft Registry page
  • In the United States, the registration number is often referred to as the N-Number given the letter "N" which precedes the alphanumeric registration identifier
  • Registration (and even accident history) can be found at
  • Definitions for terms discussed here can be found in FAR 47.2, 47.5, and 47.7
  • For information regarding registering aircraft previously registered in the United States, see FAR 47.35
  • As part of modernization, the FAA will transition services such as registration and certification to a web-based system, via the CARES initiative
  • Note also, a change (sale) to the aircraft registration certificate carries special responsibilities if the aircraft is equipped with a 406 MHz ELT
  • Pilots may request specific N-numbers in accordance with FAA guidance
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