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Aircraft register

What are the requirements for entry in the domestic aircraft register?

Aircraft can be registered in the British Virgin Islands. At present, only five aircraft are registered in the British Virgin Islands, all in the names of locally registered corporations. Requirements for registration of aircraft are fully set out in the UK Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013, including who is considered to be a qualified person for registration. Such qualified persons are:

  • the crown in right of the UK or BVI government;
  • UK nationals;
  • commonwealth citizens;
  • nationals of any European Economic Area (EEA) state;
  • bodies incorporated in any part of the commonwealth and which have their registered office or principal place of business in any part of the commonwealth; or
  • undertakings formed in accordance with the law of a EEA state and which have their registered office, central administration on principal place of business within the EEA.

The UK government permits and supports the establishment and running of aircraft registers in overseas territories provided that:

  • the full cost associated with the register, including providing safety regulation, is met by the territory concerned;
  • the territory makes provision to cover in full all liabilities which arise, or could arise, from the running of the register, both directly and indirectly; and
  • the territory establishes a safety regulatory body empowered to regulate against legislation and requirements designed to implement the annexes to the Chicago Convention which:
    • has an appropriate and sustainable level of funding; and
    • meets, in the view of the UK Department for Transport and its technical advisers, the requirements and guidance laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Mortgages and encumbrances

Is there a domestic register for aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests? If so, what are the requirements and legal effects of registration?

A BVI business company must keep a register of all relevant charges created by the company. Where a company creates a relevant charge, an application to register the charge may be made to the Registrar of Corporate Affairs in the British Virgin Islands pursuant to Section 163 of the BVI Business Companies Act. Under BVI law there is no concept of ‘perfection’ of a charge but, to the extent that such law governs priority of the charge, a charge registered under Section 163 of the act has priority over any subsequently registered and unregistered charges. Third parties are deemed to have notice of any publicly registered charge.

The British Virgin Islands offers competitive pricing compared to other jurisdictions. The fee in respect of filing a charge for registration is $100.

The Mortgaging of Aircraft and Aircraft Engines Act 2011 and the Mortgaging of Aircraft and Aircraft Engines Regulations create a framework for registration of security over aircraft, and separately aircraft engines, in the British Virgin Islands.

Aircraft registered in the British Virgin Islands or capable of being so registered, as well as aircraft engines owned by or in the lawful possession of a BVI company, may be made the subject of a mortgage for the purposes of registration. The application for registration of the mortgage must be in the prescribed form and must be made to the registrar by or on behalf of the mortgagee in question. It must be accompanied by a certified true copy of the mortgage and the prescribed fees. A mortgage entered on the register has priority over any other mortgage or charge on that aircraft or aircraft engine. It is also possible for the priority of a mortgage to be fixed by filing a priority notice with the registrar pursuant to which the priority of a yet-to-be executed mortgage can be fixed for a 14-day period. When entered in the register within the 14-day period, that mortgage will be deemed to have priority from the time when the priority notice was registered.


What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?

As well as aircraft liens, various statutory rights of detention are exercisable over aircraft. Under BVI law, persons are granted a right to detain and, in some cases, to sell (or cause to be forfeited) aircraft in certain circumstances such as:

  • contravention of certain licensing and air navigation provisions of the UK Air Navigation (Overseas) Territories Order 2013;
  • forfeiture under BVI customs law, which may occur if an aircraft has been adapted and used for the purpose of smuggling or concealing goods; and
  • criminal actions:
    • drug trafficking – if an aircraft is used for drug trafficking or purchased from the proceeds of crime, a court can order that it be forfeited under the Drug Trafficking Offence Act, the Drug Trafficking Offences (Designated Criminal Conduct Countries and Territories Order) and the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act 1977; and
    • judgment enforcement rights.

Safety and maintenance

What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?

The relevant European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approvals and Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (OTARs) under the UK Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013 apply.


What is the state of regulation on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in your jurisdiction?

The relevant EASA and OTARs under the UK Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013 apply.

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