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Buying homebuilt (basing in a different country)

I’m interested in buying a homebuilt aircraft (Vans RV) from the original builder (probably a Dutch PH-reg). I’m in Switzerland and plan to station the airplane in France (no hangars available in Switzerland nearby).

So in short:

  • Plan to buy used homebuilt airplane, registered in Netherlands (PH-)
  • Airplane to be stationed in France (and operated within Europe, including Switzerland)
  • I live in Switzerland

My questions are:

  • May I keep the Dutch PH-registration?
  • Will I (as second owner of homebuilt) be able to do maintenance myself, or how does that work?
  • Is it a problem for the French authorities if I station a PH-reg in France, but live in Switzerland?
  • As a Swiss resident, do I have to import the plane into Switzerland, although it is stationed in France?
  • Any other issues which might arise?

Thanks!

Last Edited by Zorg at 17 Jan 17:29
LFHN, LSGP, LFHM

With no claims to expertise or authority, just a few thoughts:

  • if the plane is PH-registered, I think there’s only advantages to transferring it to the F-P register
  • if registering it as CH- it would only seem natural to me that you need to import it, with all the fiscal consequences
  • whether VAT is due on the transfer depends on many factors; I paid no VAT when buying mine in Hungary, because the transaction was from a private peron to a VAT-registered company
  • in any case, make sure to obtain some kind of document confirming VAT has been paid (or is/was not due for other reasons) – French authorities seem to be on the hunt in that corner

Keep us posted, please.

Last Edited by at 17 Jan 18:40
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

I own a dutch reg. homebuilt. It’s in my opinion one of the best countries for homebuilts to own and operate – all very sraightforward, absolutely no need to change registration! A self declaration once a year for permit renewal and checks of static system and instruments every second year done by an approved inspector, that’s it. Maintenance can be done by the owner. A disadvantage is currently the limitation to VFR.
My Europa was previously registered in the UK and now I’m happy that the LAA doesn’t have me over the barrel any longer as an owner abroad.

Last Edited by europaxs at 17 Jan 21:15
EDLE

@Zorg – I would have a look at this thread and also read around here

It means that you cannot base a PH-reg (or any non-F-reg) homebuilt in France for more than 6 months. In reality you can probably keep below the radar (and many do) but after the 6 months your insurance will likely be void.

Then you have the Netherlands CAA requirements to comply with. I don’t know if this is current but last time this was looked into they needed a NL postal address. So PH-reg pilots based outside NL use a “mailbox” for this purpose. The ease of running this depends on who does it for you. If the seller offers this facility (as he well might, to help sell the plane!) he has you over a barrel once he has your money, obviously… and this has happened.

The NL CAA also requires a periodic altimeter etc check. Information varies on whether this must be done by a NL company or whether it can be done anywhere in Europe/EU. I have seen both cases working. Last I heard the EU option had disappeared and you again had to fly the plane back to the NL. But this was a while ago; more than a year I think. @europaxs – if you have the latest on this, it would be very useful.

I did some checking on this way back, and there are many threads here on the general topic (do a search – details here) but it is difficult to find out real information because this is not EASA stuff; it is buried in national laws, in national languages.

Ultimately you can do a lot if you keep a low profile when flying (and there are various ways of doing that, but they get increasingly difficult with plane spotters putting pics on the internet, FR24, etc) but the insurance angle would concern me, because if there was an accident, the insurer has plenty of time to dig out the dirt. And “everybody” knows that there are issues with long term residence of homebuilts, in various scenarios – even if almost nobody can supply exact references. I would like the Lancair Evolution but apart from basing an N-reg one in Germany, or doing it in some “disorganised country” I don’t see any way.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Hi @Peter,

The French rule is quite a downer, but the existence of such nasty restrictions are exactly what I’m keen to go to the bottom of upfront. I totally agree with your sentiment — the (liability) insurance angle doesn’t make this a matter to take lightheartedly. To me, this rule would probably kill the whole homebuilt market for my personal situation, and I’m sadly back to either microlights or gas-guzzling spam cans as weak compromise.

Anyways, what is your interpretation of the word “based in”? If I fly the aircraft to Switzerland and Germany once in a while and keep it there for 1-2 weeks before bringing it back, do is it still “based in” France in the context of the French 6-month limitation?

In any case, I’ve written an email request for clarification to lp-aviationgenerale AT aviation-civile.gouv.fr, and I shall update this thread once I get a response.

Cheers, (or lack thereof),

Michael

Last Edited by Zorg at 17 Jan 22:30
LFHN, LSGP, LFHM

what is your interpretation of the word “based in”?

I don’t know

If somebody can find the French regulation (maybe it’s already been posted here) and translate it with a French native speaker, then it may be clearer.

Otherwise, anybody who drafts a law in those words is stupid. A law has to be properly written to be any good.

But a lot of European law is like that. EASA FCL (many threads here) is like that, in its anti-N-reg move whereby after April 2016 if the operator is based in the EU the pilots need EASA papers (in addition to US papers) etc.

However in most cases of a particular pilot, the meaning of “based” is obvious because if you live in France, work in France, etc, etc… you get my meaning I am sure. People who genuinely move around will always be able to escape such regs, unless they are drafted as tightly as e.g. the UK Foreign Domicile stuff which defines it to the very last day of the year.

If you can get something from the DGAC, I am sure many people will be very interested – because PH-reg offers a good owner-maintenance regime.

However, check out the other angle of PH-reg which is that the non-builder owner might be getting reduced owner maintenance privileges. Many threads on that here too. This has been claimed by several people, including one NL based builder who sold a homebuilt to somebody outside NL, but I don’t think anybody has found the regs supporting this view. It is an expected consequence of the homebuilder regime which is based on the builder taking extra care because he doesn’t want to kill himself. On a G-reg homebuilt there is an Annual LAA inspection so there is no privilege loss on the new owner. On an N-reg homebuilt there is a privilege loss but it’s small (you need an A&P signoff on the Annual). On a PH-reg homebuilt there is no “CAA” inspection so a privilege loss would be expected.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Zorg wrote:

So in short:

Plan to buy used homebuilt airplane, registered in Netherlands (PH-)
Airplane to be stationed in France (and operated within Europe, including Switzerland)
I live in Switzerland
My questions are:

May I keep the Dutch PH-registration?
Will I (as second owner of homebuilt) be able to do maintenance myself, or how does that work?
Is it a problem for the French authorities if I station a PH-reg in France, but live in Switzerland?
As a Swiss resident, do I have to import the plane into Switzerland, although it is stationed in France?
Any other issues which might arise?
Thanks!

It all depends on the Dutch CAA. Either they care where the plane is “based”, or they don’t. I guess they don’t, but who knows?

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

It all depends on the Dutch CAA. Either they care where the plane is “based”, or they don’t. I guess they don’t, but who knows?

@LeSving: From what @Peter wrote, it seems like it also depends on the French authorities, whether they allow a foreign-registered (but EU-registered) homebuilt to be based in France permanently (and what “based in France” means for that matter).

LFHN, LSGP, LFHM

Hi @Zorg

I have a Lancair 320 on a PH reg based in France and it’s no problem at all. Send me a PM if you want me to put you in contact with someone (good) who can advise/help further.

To confirm what @europaxs said:
It’s in my opinion one of the best countries for homebuilts to own and operate – all very sraightforward, absolutely no need to change registration! A self declaration once a year for permit renewal and checks of static system and instruments every second year done by an approved inspector, that’s it.

Bordeaux

I don’t think any European CAA has an actually written legal power to limit where its homebuilts can be based. Maybe someone does but I have not heard of it. It is possible that this is difficult to do because they don’t have much control over an aircraft whose CofA is not ICAO compliant. The “state of registry has control over the aircraft worldwide” concept comes from ICAO, not from some principle of natural justice (you can tell I am not a lawyer) IMHO, the NL CAA has no more control over where a PH-reg plane is based than BMW have power to prevent one of their cars being operated on Mars.

The UK LAA (G-reg homebuilts) is one exception which tries to restrict it to the UK but they have no legal basis for it so they do it using under the table methods, by restricting their inspectors travelling abroad (or trying to). They also send out vaguely worded threatening letters (one was posted here a while ago).

The NL CAA tries to do it by requiring a NL postal address, and possibly by requiring a NL based maintenance company for the altimeter etc checks.

The “PH-reg in France” issue is caused by France limiting non-F-reg homebuilts to 6 months, unless the state of registry (NL in this case) supplies the DGAC with certain documents (details in the threads linked earlier) which is IMHO very unlikely to happen.

I have a Lancair 320 on a PH reg based in France and it’s no problem at all. Send me a PM if you want me to put you in contact with someone (good) who can advise/help further.

If Jojo you can post details on how to do it in accordance with the applicable regs in France I am sure many will be very interested. Nobody doubts it can be done practically.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
29 Posts
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