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How to Return the FAA Aircraft Registration After you Sell the Aircraft

By September 12, 2018July 4th, 2021No Comments

The aircraft sale just closed.  What else do you need to do to satisfy your FAA requirements?

Return the FAA Registration to the FAA

Immediately after the closing, the seller (now the prior owner) should remove the FAA Registration, also called the permanent registration, the “hard card”, the Certificate of Aircraft Registration and officially known as AC Form 8050-3, from the aircraft  The seller completes the boxes and blanks on the back of the FAA Registration, then has it signed by a person with authority to sign on behalf of the seller and promptly mails the original to the FAA at the address on the back of the FAA Registration.  For those of you who enjoy reading government regulations, the timeframe requirements for when to return the AC Form 8050-3 to the FAA are in FAR 47.41(b).

Complete & Sign the Back of the FAA Registration

One option on the back generally says:  “The ownership of the aircraft is transferred to: ______.”  If the aircraft was sold and the registration transferred to the new owner (the buyer), you should complete the blank line with the buyer’s name and address.  You must use the buyer’s name and address from the buyer’s FAA Registration Application filed with the FAA at the recent closing.  Do not simply use the buyer’s name from the purchase agreement.  The buyer may have taken title through an owner trust or through a subsidiary.  The escrow agent handling the closing of the sale can provide you with this information.

After you write the buyer’s name and address into the blank line, then have the back signed by a person who has the authority to sign on behalf of the prior owner/seller.  This is generally an officer of a corporation or an officer, member or manager if the seller is a limited liability company.  If an owner trustee was the registered owner of the aircraft, you need to send the owner trustee the original registration completed with the buyer’s name and address, so that the owner trustee can sign the registration.  Once the proper person has signed and dated the FAA registration, keep a copy of both sides of the FAA registration for your file and send the original FAA registration to the FAA at the address on the back of the FAA registration.

Follow FAR 47.41

The FAA registration, with the reverse side completed, is to be returned to the FAA Registry, within 21 days after the ownership is transferred to the buyer.   If the certificate is not available for return, a statement describing the aircraft and stating the reason the certificate is not available must be submitted to the FAA Registry within the required timeframe of FAR 47.41(b).

Many are not aware of this regulation.  However, if you fail to return the FAA Registration, you may receive a letter from the FAA, stating that the FAA is aware of the sale and reminding you that the FAA Registration is to be returned.   The letter may cite the interests of national security and aviation safety, as well as the Federal Aviation Regulations as reasons to comply with the requirements.

If you fail to return the original FAA Registration, receive a letter from the FAA, but have lost the original FAA Registration, then you need to respond to the letter from the FAA by sending a statement outlining the circumstances that prevent its return.

Even straightforward FAA regulatory issues can be complex.  The help of an attorney experienced in business aviation can help reduce costs and ensure regulatory compliance.


Michelle M. Wade is a Partner with the aviation law firm of Jetstream Aviation Law, P.A. and counsel clients on the acquisition, financing and operation of corporate jets operated under Part 91 and Part 135 of the US Federal Aviation Regulations. Jetstream Aviation Law can be found at Michelle Wade (

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