The Operator’s Guide to the 2015 Paris Air Show – Part 2: Permits, CIQ, and Documentation

The Operator’s Guide to the 2015 Paris Air Show – Part 2: Permits, CIQ, and Documentation

This is a post by author Sandrine Jackson. Sandrine is managing director for Universal Aviation France – Paris, which has a recently renovated FBO with hangar at Le Bourget Airport. Sandrine is an expert on business aircraft operations in France and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled "The Operator’s Guide to the 2015 Paris Air Show – Part 1: Airport and Operational Considerations."

The 51st International Paris Air Show runs June 15-21 at Le Bourget (LFPB), and this is a busy period for General Aviation (GA) traffic in the region. If you have already read our last article – covering airport options, parking, and ground services – now it’s time to get familiar with permits; Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ); and documentation requirements.

The following is an overview of what you need to know if operating to LFPB for the event:

1. Airport slots and permits

Le Bourget (LFPB) does not have airport slot requirements. Landing permits are only needed for charter, but not private non-revenue, flights. If you require a landing permit for charter purposes, it will be processed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with official lead time of five business days. Note that the turnaround time on charter permits is often quicker, but it is at CAA’s discretion.

2. Landing permit documentation

CAA is very particular in ensuring that all permit documentation is complete and in order. If you land without a required permit, as a charter flight, authorities will likely impound your aircraft. Standard documentation for French landing permit requests includes:

  • airworthiness and registration certificates
  • air operator certificate
  • pilot licenses and medicals
  • a completed French Operator’s Questionnaire

3. Pilot age restrictions

For charter operations to France, pilots in command must not be 60 years of age or older, and no pilot in the flight deck may be 65 years of age or greater. These age restrictions do not apply to private non-revenue flights.

4. Immigration clearance

When you land at LFPB, the immigration and customs process is separate. First, you’ll clear security and immigration inside the fixed-base operator (FBO), and this process usually takes 5-10 minutes. Certain nationalities require Schengen visas, and those visas must be obtained prior to arrival. Without required visas passengers will not be permitted into France. Crew members, regardless of nationality, do not require visas, as long as they have appropriate government-issued licenses. Flight attendants without licenses will generally be admitted visa-free so long as they’re listed as crew members on the gen dec.

The Operator's Guide to the 2015 Paris Air Show

Clearance at Universal Aviation France at Le Bourget

5. Customs processing

You’ll only be taken to the customs office if you have something to declare. Customs authorities, however, have the right to inspect luggage and board the aircraft if they so desire. Customs officers are on the lookout for passengers/crew members carrying undeclared sums in excess of 10,000 Euros and/or importing goods with individual values exceeding 430 Euros. Always complete a "Declaration of Valuables" form if you’re carrying items such as: expensive jewelry, pricey artworks, or large quantities of precious metals. Your ground handler will assist you with this. Be mindful that, if you wish to process Value-Added Tax (VAT) rebates on departure, you’ll need to make arrangements in advance, visit the customs office and present both the products in question and the receipts. Be aware that the VAT reclaim process has potential to delay your departure process, so it’s best to arrive at the airport a little earlier.

6. Cabotage and other issues

Cabotage is taken seriously in France. Be aware that temporary importation of an aircraft into the European Union (EU) does not exempt operators from cabotage regulations/penalties. For example if you pick up a customer or business prospect in LFPB and fly him or her to Nice (LFMN), you may leave yourself open to significant cabotage penalties, including grounding of your aircraft. Cabotage is seldom a concern for operators who are transporting passengers that are company employees or if you embark EU nationals and take them outside the EU.

7. Health considerations

If you’re arriving into France from certain endemic countries, it’s necessary to disinsect the aircraft cabin with an approved spray and provide local authorities with the sticker from the can on the gen dec. Cabin spraying should be done prior to landing, usually at top of descent, but may be accomplished on the ground with doors closed and all passengers/crew members onboard. It’s recommended that you speak to your 3rd-party provider or ground handler for more information on this.

8. Onboard pets

Dogs and cats, with the exception of fighting or racing dogs/cats, are permitted into France aboard GA aircraft if:

  • the animal is at least three months old
  • the owner can produce a valid health/rabies certificate
  • the dog or cat has an identification tattoo or an under-skin electronic identification chip corresponding to the animal’s paperwork

9. SAFA ramp checks

Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) inspections occur on a regular basis in France and may take place on arrival or prior to departure. We’ve seen an increase in SAFA ramp checks over recent years. Time involved with such inspections varies depending on aircraft and crew documentation being in order. If everything is in compliance, the check may only take 15-30 minutes. There are cases, however, in which SAFA checks consume upwards of five hours when documentation is not in order and additional questioning is needed. SAFA agents also check to confirm the flight isn’t filed as private non-revenue when it’s a charter. For this reason it’s imperative to ensure that proper documentation is carried onboard and permits are obtained when required. In order not to run into issues with SAFA checks, charter operators should always carry arrival/departure notices to airmen, flight plans, weather briefings, and all required documentation onboard.


Landing permits for France are only required for charter (non-scheduled commercial), and there are specific documentation and procedural requirements charter operators must address prior to day of arrival. It’s important to work closely with your 3rd-party provider, especially for any first-time charter flights to Paris.

Be mindful of cabotage regulations and repercussions for any operation that’s viewed by officials to be out of compliance. It’s suggested that operators confirm with a 3rd-party provider what is and what is not permitted in terms of cabotage. This helps avoid operational delays and potential financial penalties. It’s also important to ensure that proper documentation is available and appropriate permits are obtained when needed.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to France, contact me at