Beware of US requirements for Canadian pilots wishing to fly a US registered aircraft in the US

By Patrick Gilligan


COPA has received conflicting reports from members about what steps are required to be able to fly a US registered aircraft in the US based on their Canadian licence. We discovered incomplete, unclear and conflicting information in the various FAA FARs and other documents that explain the requirements and the process for obtaining and maintaining a US certificate.

Even though FAR 61.75 permits you to obtain a US private pilot certificate without a US medical, practical flight test or knowledge exam, other FAR provisions specify these and other requirements in order to exercise the privileges of the certificate.

COPA is seeking clarification on the confusing documents. Until we get a clear answer from the FAA, FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 61-135 should be followed .

Some highlights of the AC for private pilots before you can exercise the privileges of a US private pilot certificate in a US registered aircraft in the US include:

-You must obtain and maintain a FAA medical certificate. Your Canadian medical does not satisfy the requirement, according to this AC.
-You must pass a FAA written exam.
-Unless you have completed a flight test for a Canadian private pilot licence within the past 24 months or a skill test for a rating, you must complete a flight review with a US instructor.
-In addition, before you carry passengers you must be current to FAA requirements for takeoffs and landings.

The AC also explains what you have to do in order to exercise ratings such as an instrument rating and requirements for other licences.

If you are in doubt whether or not your existing US pilot certificate issued on the basis of your Canadian licence meets the requirements outlined in the AC, or even if the AC is applicable, you should check with the FAA office (FSDO) that issued your certificate and ask them specifically what you must do before you can fly.

When COPA has the complete and clear interpretation from the FAA, we will update our Guide to Cross Border Operations.