NBAA Welcomes Clarification of Customs Terms for Temporary Admission of Aircraft to European Union

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360,

Washington, DC, Dec. 2, 2014 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed the European Commission’s publication of a working paper clarifying terms related to the temporary admission of aircraft into the European Union (EU). The paper provides official guidance to customs officials in the 28 member states of the EU, making clear that many typical business aviation flights are eligible for temporary admission when flying within the EU.

Before this official guidance was released, many business aircraft operators, including NBAA Members, were uncertain whether they were eligible for temporary admission or could be subject to value-added taxes (VAT) and other duties when flying within the EU. To resolve this confusion, the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) requested clarification from the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the European Commission.

“This paper issued by the European Commission clearly resolves the confusion,” said Kurt Edwards, director general of IBAC. “As long as the operator meets the conditions for temporary admission, they can utilize the process to receive conditional relief from value-added tax and customs duties obligations, and operate to, from and within the EU.”

“NBAA strongly supports the European Commission’s decision to issue this clarification, which will remove a significant layer of uncertainty for business aircraft operators flying within the EU,” said Doug Carr, NBAA vice president for regulatory and international affairs. “We also thank IBAC, on behalf of all NBAA Members, for its years-long work to help clarify this issue.”

In many EU countries, foreign-registered aircraft are among the types of property subject to VAT and other duties when imported. However, when a foreign-registered aircraft flies from a non-EU country and then conducts flights within the EU, that activity can be eligible for temporary admission and conditional relief from taxes and duties. The conditions include a requirement that the aircraft be flown for private use, not commercial use.

For many years, operators have been confused by differences in the meanings of the terms “private use” and “commercial use” as understood by the international aviation community and as applied by customs authorities in the EU.

“This matter has always been the subject of interpretation across the EU,” said Terry Yeomans, program director of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH) at IBAC, “and this paper clearly defines typical business aviation activities as ‘private use’ for the purposes of temporary admission and conditional relief from taxes and duties.”

The paper not only defines flights by company-owned aircraft as private use, but further clarifies that a chartered flight is also private use for the purposes of temporary admission, because the fees paid are for the lease of the aircraft and not for passenger tickets. However, charter flights must have appropriate traffic rights and economic authority to operate within the EU.

Yeomans emphasized that the working paper, issued by the European Commission’s Customs Code Committee Section for Special Procedures, addresses the interpretation of private use and commercial use only for customs officials in EU member states and only for the purposes of temporary admission. The EU Customs Code, its implementing guide and the WCO Istanbul Convention on Temporary Admission remain unchanged.

Review NBAA’s web page on temporary admission for more information.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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