Registration Certificate


  • Just as we must register a motor vehicle, we must also register aircraft
  • The registration certificate therefore is a certificate validating the aircraft's registration with the FAA
  • The registration certificate is a required document as per Federal Aviation Regulations
  • Specific instructions on how to register an aircraft can be found on the FAA's Aircraft Registry page
Registration Certificate
Figure 1: Registration Certificate


  • Registration certificates expire every 3 years or when any of the following occur:
    • Name change
    • Owner dies
    • Damaged/Destroyed/Lost
    • Operating in a new country
    • Surrendered to the FAA
  • Renewal instructions can be found on the FAA's website


  • An aircraft may be registered only by and in the legal name of its owner
  • An aircraft is eligible for U.S. Registration if:
    • It is not registered in another country
    • The aircraft is owned by:
      • A U.S. Citizen
      • A Resident Alien
      • A U.S. government unit or subdivision
      • 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.)

Registering Your Aircraft:

  • To register an aircraft send the following to the Aircraft Registration Branch:
    • An Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1
    • Evidence of ownership (such as a bill of sale)
    • The $5.00 registration fee made payable to the Federal Aviation Administration
  • You must use an original Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1
  • The FAA does not accept photocopies or computer-generated copies of this form
  • Aircraft Registration Applications may be obtained from the Aircraft Registration Branch or your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO)
  • 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
  • The FAA will return any applications that do not include the printed or typed name of the signer


  • 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
  • In the United States, the registration number is often referred to as the N-Number given the letter "N" which preceeds the alphanumeric registration identifier
  • Registration (and even accident history) can be found at