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N-reg ownership by foreigner in the US


I am closing a deal on a new plane (US-based, under N-reg) in a few days. I am from Europe but living in the US on a visa. I know Europeans owning N-reg aircrafts outside of the US use trusts but wasn’t expecting to have issues with a US-based aircraft. Reading this, I believe I can only own through a trust or a foreign corporation:

Has as anyone here been in a similar situation?

Thank you!
KTTN, LFBE, MYNN, United States

I believe you need a trust (or someone with at least a permanent resident status as a front person). For corporate ownership there are rules (in the document you linked to) but in my opinion all the corporate ownership types in there are for US-based corporations, not foreign ones (key phrase being “organized [and doing business] under the laws of the U.S. or one of the States”). I’d expect a trust to be less expensive than a dedicated US-based company.

EPKP - Kraków, Poland

From your FAA link “an individual citizen of a foreign country lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S” is eligible. A limited time visa is apparently not sufficient.

That’s how I read it as well but my visa is for 5 yrs and I’m a resident from a fiscal point of view. That’s where my questioning is coming from.

KTTN, LFBE, MYNN, United States

xavierde wrote:

That’s how I read it as well but my visa is for 5 yrs and I’m a resident from a fiscal point of view. That’s where my questioning is coming from.

AFAIK, it’s either citizen or permanent resident (i.e. green card holder). All others have to go through a corporation or a trust. I have heard that it’s possible to set up a US company which in turn owns the airplane, but not sure how that would work. Consult an aviation lawyer and/or AOPA legal?

A US company (corporation or association) also requires that 75% of the voting interest is “owned or controlled” by US citizens. So in my understanding, you can do e.g. a partnership where you have all economic rights, and one (or several) US citizens (collectively) own or control voting rights. Which makes it similar to a trust in functioning, in that formally another person has control of your plane. Whether that is cheaper than a trust is another question :)


Read last permissible paragraph.

I had my aircraft in my corporation as a foreign owner. I was sole owner of corporation. Only req is that you fly 60% within the US, keep a record of it in a disclosed location. Had to fill out a little form on flight hours each year to comply, but no big deal. Easy.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 31 Aug 04:35

Yes, but:
@AdamFrisch – the corporation has to be US-based, right? @xavierde was asking about a foreign one – so I still think a trust will be cheaper than a dedicated US company
@xavierde – taxation has nothing to do with immigration – I think you usually become a “resident” for tax purposes once you spend more than 182 days in a given country, becoming a “resident” in terms of immigration isn’t so trivial and definitely not automatic (think: [tax] burden vs [immigration] privilege)

EPKP - Kraków, Poland

A search for e.g.

“n-reg” ownership

digs up older threads.

My understanding, from speaking to countless people on both sides of the debate over many years, is that you have to be a US citizen (passport holder) or a US Green Card holder.

To meet this, most Europeans use a trust, even when they live in the US. The trust can be a company and then needs to be at least 75% owned by individuals who in aggregate meet the criteria in the above paragraph (examples: one or more Americans and nobody else, or three (or more) Americans and one European).

I was told multiple times by bizjet owners (who tend to use the pricey trust options) that they have the “3xUS + himself” setup i.e. the owner owns 25% of the US company and the other 75% is some American lawyers. This gives you the assurance that if one of the lawyers kicks the bucket (a common occurence, especially if eating burgers) they just install a replacement

The alternative is ownership by a US registered company (corporation) and then various requirements apply to e.g. where the plane spends its time. I am sure Adam is very familiar with this one.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I was in that situation when I came to the US 10 years ago.
I used a trust while I was on H1B but had it transferred to me when I got my green card.

You could use a friend to be the nominal owner. You save the trust fees, but should they die or get divorced you may find that it’s treated as part of their estate.

KHWD- Hayward California; EGTN Enstone Oxfordshire, United States
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