Much like the licence plate on a car, the registration mark on an aircraft enables its identification. The Chicago Convention provides that all aircraft must be registered with a national aviation authority and must carry evidence of this registration in the form of a certificate of registration at all times when in operation.

Operator registry

The Belgian Aircraft Registry is an operator registry, meaning that aircraft are registered under the name of the operator only. The name of the aircraft's owner does not appear in the registry or on the certificate of registration, unless the owner also operates the aircraft.

In order to register an aircraft with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an operator must submit documents evidencing its title, ownership or lease over the aircraft. These documents will not be published.

It is impossible to register an ownership or lease interest in Belgium, since no registry other than the operator registry exists. Further, the CAA does not issue a certificate or any other type of declaration recognising the identity of the owner of an aircraft.

A Belgian certificate of registration contains information about the aircraft and its operator, but contains no pledge details for the aircraft.

Aircraft registered in Belgium have a registration mark that starts with "OO-".

Conditions and process of registration

Article 3 of the Royal Decree of March 15 1954 provides for nationality requirements for aircraft registration.

In order to register an aircraft in Belgium, the operator (which can also be the owner of the aircraft) must fill in the form available on the CAA website and submit the following information and supporting documents:

  • a description of the aircraft;
  • applicant identification documents (eg, a copy of a natural person's passport or a company's articles of association);
  • evidence of the title on the aircraft (eg, an invoice or lease agreement);
  • a DL2 certificate certifying that import formalities into Belgium have been satisfied;
  • if the aircraft was previously registered in Belgium, the expired certificate of registration;
  • if the aircraft was previously registered abroad, the deregistration certificate; and
  • evidence of payment of the relevant administrative fee.

In principle, if all information and supporting documents are submitted, the registration process can be completed in a short period of time.

Any party can request a copy of the certificate of registration from the CAA.

Deregistration

Only the operator is authorised to deregister an aircraft from the Aircraft Registry. However, the operator usually grants a deregistration power of attorney to the lessor or owner, by which the lessor has the right to deregister and export the aircraft if certain contractual provisions are not respected by the lessee.

Further, the Royal Decree of March 15 1954 provides that an aircraft can be automatically deregistered if:

  • it is no longer used;
  • it has been missing for more than six months; or
  • the conditions of its registration are no longer being met.

For further information on this topic please contact Pierre Frühling, Elisabeth Decat or Stéphanie Golinvaux at Holman Fenwick Willan LLP by telephone (+32 2 643 34 00) or email (pierre.fruhling@hfw.com, elisabeth.decat@hfw.com or stephanie.golinvaux@hfw.com). The Holman Fenwick Willan website can be accessed at www.hfw.com.

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