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Buying an N-reg airplane in Europe - how do you transfer an aircraft in a Trust?

Hi guys,

so after much fuzzing around it seems we narrowed down our search to a pretty decent looking Pa28-201T Arrow III.
So far it looks good, the only thing I seem unable to wrap my head around is how an N-registered airplane would be transferred to a new owner, within Europe. I tried to search the forum but seemingly cannot find a similar question. Most results popping up are related to importing such a plane to Europe, or converting from EASA to N-reg.

Clearly, the aircraft is owned by a US trust. So, in such a case, would we have to “buy” the whole trust, becoming the new owners of the trust? Or would one need to create a new trust which in turn would buy the aircraft from the original one?

Thank you for your help!



Your Trustee would be registered as the new owner in the FAA change of registration the seller would provide. In the USA it is customary to get title insurance when buying an N reg, you may want to discuss this with your trustee.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

Luke, might be best to PM if you have specific questions.

My aircraft was N-reg based in Singapore when I bought it and it was already on a Trust. If your target Arrow’s existing Trust is “dedicated” to that single aircraft, i.e. there are not multiple aircraft registered under the same Trust, then the process is very straightforward. I do not recommend Trusts with multiple owner beneficiaries, so if the current Trust is one of them I suggest that you create a new Trust arrangement and transfer the aircraft out of the old one and into yours. In my case, the Trust just changed the beneficial owner from the previous owner to me which meant that a new Trust agreement was set up for me that I signed with the Trust. Since then, the Trust also added a separate Operating agreement which essentially delegates operational responsibility to me.

Once you have a contract of sale with the current owner, he/she should forward a copy of it to the current Trust contact indicating/confirming that you have made an agreement to purchase the aircraft. You should then also write to the same Trust contact to introduce yourself, confirm the contract of sale from your side, and provide all your contact details.

The current owner needs to confirm to the Trust once payment is complete and request transfer of beneficial ownership. The Trust should then take over and provide you with all the contracts needed to finalize the transfer. Of course, the Trust will invoice you yearly for their services. That should happen on the anniversary of the Trust, since their annual fee has already been paid until then. You should also request from the Trust an Aircraft Title Search Report. One company that does this is Aero Records & Title Co. The confirms the bill of sale details (seller: trust owner, purchaser: same trust owner), that there are no liens against the aircraft and the references that your Trust agreement and Trustee’s affidavit are both filed with the FAA.

My Trust also looks after any FAA communication related to the aircraft… registration renewal every 3 years, aircraft radio station authorization valid 10 years. They should provide these to you once you have completed all the transactions. These need to be on board the aircraft at all times, along with the proof of insurance coverage. For flying in Europe it is wise for you to make your own noise certificate. The FAA does not provide these. If you currently have an FAA licence, then I assume that you also have an FCC restricted radio operator certificate. This is necessary for you to operate the radios in the N-reg aircraft, and really has nothing to do with your purchase, per se.

LSZK, Switzerland

I did 3 Bills of Sales:
1 from the old trust to the previous owner
1 from the previous owner to me (as governed by the sales contract)
1 from me to my new trust.
All dated consecutively. All ok by FAA.
This was from a Swiss n-reg « owner » to me

Last Edited by Niner_Mike at 03 Jun 20:23
Abeam the Flying Dream
EBKT, western Belgium, Belgium

lukepower wrote:

Or would one need to create a new trust which in turn would buy the aircraft from the original one?

Here are many people who have great experience. You need to, however, consider what you do: You pay a lot of money for not owning something. Therefore you better not make a mistake.

If you do not feel extremely comfortable and knowledgeable in the whole FAA regulations, what you need is a lawyer that can help you with that (i.e. somebody who has a) the required knowledge and b) a liability insurance that pays you back the money if the advice is wrong and you end up without money and without the right to use the airplane).

Such legal advice can also be provided by the trust which you want to give the ownership of your aircraft to – that would only require that you already know you trust this trust.


There is no magic in this.

Reputable firms like SAC do an individual trust for each aircraft. If you sell it, they just produce a new trust document, and charge £450 (or so) for that.

There have been cases of individuals owning many planes personally and that is not so good – as well as not satisfying the current FAA requirement for knowing the identity of the beneficial owner (the “Trustor” in US-speak).

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Guys, can you suggest a good (not necessary cheap) trust service?
This “SAC” firm, do they have a website (can’t google it).

Thank you!


Mike Wacker at EDFE Egelsbach near Frankfurt should be able to find you a good trust. Mine is at Aircraft Guaranty.

LRIA, Romania

Aircraft Guaranty looks good, thank you, Alex


SAC website

Good firm – been with them 16 years. Probably a lot cheaper than the others.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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