Jet in flight

Commercial air carriers must comply with the safety requirements of each country they visit. This is an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard that even holds true for foreign carriers visiting the US. The European Commission has adopted a unified authorization process requiring commercial air transport (CAT) operators from outside the European Union (EU), also known as “third-country operators” (TCOs), to obtain a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the 28 European Union states, EU overseas territories (Gibraltar, Aland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint-Martin, and Mayotte) and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). CAT operators include all airlines and charter operators, including U.S. Part 135 operations.

All commercial operators who fly to, or intend to fly to, Europe, even for fuel stops, are required to apply for TCO authorization. The new unified authorization process required all operators currently conducting operations to the EU to submit an application by November 26th, 2014 to avoid delays. EASA has until November 26th, 2016 to review all applications as part of the transition period. Until that time, all operators should continue to apply for entry permits to each country they plan to visit.

Operators who plan to begin operations to the EU after the initial application period, should apply for TCO authorization 30 days prior to their first trip.

All applications must include the following:

  • General operator information and contact details
  • Type of operation, AOC and Operations Specifications
  • Fleet data
  • Other safety information, including accident history

Review the instructions for the TCO authorization application (PDF)

Review the application for TCO authorization (PDF)

For more information about EU TCO authorization, contact NBAA’s Operations Service Group at (202) 783-9250 or

EU TCO Resources

European Aviation Safety Agency
Third Country Operators web page

April 29, 2014