A new Regulation (Royal Decree 384/2015, of 22 May 2015) has been passed governing the Spanish Aircraft Registration Mark Registry (Registro de Matrícula de Aeronaves) (the "Aircraft Registry").

The Aircraft Registry is an administrative body dependent on the Spanish Air Safety Agency (Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea). The Aircraft Registry is publicly available so anyone bearing a legitimate interest can have access to the records.

This new Regulation repeals the former one (passed in 1969, and amended in 1972 and 1996).

The aim of this new Regulation consists of unifying in a sole registry all aircrafts, including those for commercial and non- commercial purposes, but excluding certain ones (among them, unmanned aerial vehicles – which are governed by a particular legislation).

Also, this new Regulation intends to simplify the relation between the Aircraft Registry and the Spanish Movable Asset Registry (Registro de Bienes Muebles), where the liens and encumbrances over aircrafts are normally recorded, and which is the Spanish registry linked to the International Registry under the Cape Town Convention.

Registration of aircrafts

The registration of an aircraft with the Spanish Aircraft Registry entails that the aircraft holds Spanish nationality and Spanish registration mark (beginning with EC + 4 letters, although temporally the current system of EC + 3 letters shall still be applicable). The registration mark is one of the requisites needed to operate an aircraft.

The applicant (owner or lessee) must lodge the documents for registration with the Aircraft Registry within 3 months from (i) the execution of the ownership title; (ii) the delivery of the aircraft for start of operations; or (iii) the de-registration from a third country.

While the Aircraft Registry processes the definitive registration mark, the aircraft shall hold a provisional registration mark for a 3 month term (renewable for an additional period of 45 days under certain conditions). The provisional registration mark shall be granted within 15 days from the filing of the application for registration provided all requisites and documents are met.  The provisional registration mark is a condition to obtain the certificate of airworthiness from the Spanish Air Safety Agency.

Once the provisional registration mark is obtained, the applicant shall have to apply for registration with the Movable Asset Registry (if required under the particular legislation of that  Registry).  The  definitive  registration  mark  shall  be granted by the Aircraft Registry within 15 days from the date the Movable Asset Registry registers the aircraft, or within 3 months from the filing of the application if the registration with the latter is not required.

The validity term of the definitive registration mark shall be unlimited if the applicant was the owner provided the ownership does not change, or limited to the term of the lease agreement if the applicant was the lessee.

The new Regulation foresees that the applicant can ask for a reservation of registration under certain conditions. The maximum term for the reservation shall be 6 months, after which the aircraft shall obtain a provisional registration mark, or the reservation shall be cancelled.

The registration can be temporally cancelled for a maximum term of 5 years if the aircraft is registered with a third country by virtue of a title giving possession to another party, or if the aircraft becomes a military aircraft.

Manufacturers are entitled to ask for a test registration mark regarding testing and maintenance flights until the delivery to clients. Also, test registration marks can be granted regarding prototypes.

The cancellation of registration (de-registration) shall occur, among other events, in case the aircraft is acquired by a new owner intending to register it with a third country. In such case, the de-registration shall only be allowed if an export certificate of airworthiness is previously obtained (provided said certificate is required by the third country). The Aircraft Registry shall directly notify the de-registration to the registry in the third country.

The lease and sublease agreements for a maximum term of 6 months are not required to be registered.

Rules, terms and deadlines regarding certain aspects

The new Regulation has specified the terms to carry out certain actions regarding the records of the Aircraft Registry. Additionally, some of the new terms are slightly lengthier than those envisaged in the former regulation.

The maximum term to apply for the registration of (i) change of owner; (ii) execution of lease agreements; or (iii) constitution of liens or encumbrances, shall be 15 days from the registration of those with the Movable Asset Registry (if required). In case of change of owner, the acquirer must file an application to update the records of the Aircraft Registry within 1 month from the execution of the purchase agreement.

The extension of a lease agreement, or the acquisition of the aircraft by the lessee, must be notified 15 days in advance the termination of the lease agreement in the event the lessee was the applicant for registration of the aircraft (i.e., in case the validity of the registration mark is linked to the term of the lease agreement). Failing to do so, the Aircraft Registry shall initiate the file for cancellation of the registration of the aircraft after 15 days from the termination date of the lease agreement.

The documentation and related requisites to apply for the registration of the different aspects before the Aircraft Registry have not essentially varied from the ones requested under the former regulation.

Relation between Spanish Aircraft Registry and Spanish Movable Asset Registry

The legal framework applicable to the Movable Asset Registry and the Aircraft Registry are not contained in the same piece of legislation. This is the reason that has led the new Regulation to unite and simplify the common aspects of both Registries relating to aircrafts.

Once the aircraft is registered with the Aircraft Registry, any new record shall firstly be registered with the Movable Asset Registry (if required) and subsequently with the Aircraft Registry save for the de-registration, which corresponds to the Aircraft Registry.

The communications between both Registries shall be done online.

The registration of liens and encumbrances already registered with the Movable Asset Registry shall directly be registered by the Aircraft Registry, without being necessary that the affected parties apply for it.

Any change in the ownership of an aircraft must be reported by the affected parties.

Regarding de-registration, the Aircraft Registry shall notify it to the Movable Asset Registry (if the aircraft is recorded in the latter).

Other rules

If the acquirer of an aircraft registered with the Aircraft Registry is not a Spanish national and its domicile or establishment is not located in Spain, it would not be necessary to attach to the application filed with the Aircraft Registry  the  document  evidencing  that  the  transfer  of  the aircraft is not subject to Stamp Duty.

Entry into force

The new regulation comes into force on 1 December 2015.

All files with the Aircraft Registry initiated prior to that date will be processed according to the new Regulation, although the steps already reached shall be maintained not being necessary to repeat them.

NEW REGULATION OF SPANISH AIRCRAFT REGISTRY

  • New Regulation unifying registration of aircrafts in Spain (registration mark, leases, liens, encumbrances, change of ownership)
  • Certain new rules and deadlines
  • Coordination between Aircraft Registry and Movable Asset Registry