Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine

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Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine

Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine

This is a post by author Jason Hayward. Jason is general manager for Universal Aviation U.K. – London-Stansted. Jason is an expert on business aircraft operations in the U.K. and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in the UK and continues from our last article: "Business Aircraft Operations in the UK: Ground Handling."

For business aircraft operators, the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) process is a quick and not an onerous procedure in the UK. The process goes even more smoothly and quickly when working with your ground handler and providing all required information/documentation in advance.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Know the process for clearing CIQ

A general aviation report form must be completed and filed for every international arrival to the UK. Your ground handler normally fills out this form and submits it to CIQ prior to your arrival. Passengers are normally cleared first, followed by crew members. Depending on the airport, there may be different clearance procedures and processes to take into consideration. Onboard CIQ clearance may be permitted at certain airports, but this must be requested in advance and is at the discretion of the customs duty officer. If passenger or crew visas are required, you’ll need to have these prior to arrival. These must be UK visas and not Schengen visas, or you won’t be permitted into the country. At some UK airports, private vehicles are permitted on the ramp with advance approval.

2. Be aware of additional CIQ procedures

Non-EU nationals must fill out landing cards. It’s best to submit this information – via your ground handler – in advance to avoid delays. At some airports crew members/passengers clear in the main terminal, and you may find yourself in line with commercial passengers. No departure immigration process is required in the UK for either private non-revenue or charter flights. Security screening is only needed if you’re a "qualifying flight" or operating in a restricted airport zone. Crew/passengers and aircraft information will be submitted to CIQ for international tech stop purposes, but clearance is not usually required so long as passengers/crew members stay onboard. Your ground handler may charge a fee to coordinate these services.

3. Know considerations for onboard pets and weapons

If you have pets onboard, you need to use a pet-approved airport in the UK. When you operate to a non-approved airfield for a fuel stop, the pet must remain onboard, and your ground handler will not be permitted to remove any animal waste. While all external aircraft services can be accomplished during the tech stop, all animal waste must, strictly, remain onboard and depart with you. For more information on bringing a pet to the UK, please see our article entitled "Pet Passport Travel – Now Available at London Stansted Airport (EGSS)."

Onboard weapons must be declared in advance, and these weapons must be stored at the airport with customs officials, the police, or a licensed armament dealer. If you’re traveling to the UK for hunting, you’ll need to have a UK license arranged by the land owner for the location you plan to hunt. For general guidance on operating with weapons onboard, see article: Bringing Hunting Weapons Onboard a Business Aircraft – What You Should Know.

4. Be mindful of agricultural restrictions

There are assorted agricultural restrictions to be aware of in the UK. It’s best to confirm with your ground handler in advance what meat, dairy, and fruit items may be offloaded or remain onboard. In many cases onboard catering may be stored at the fixed-base operator or ground handler’s office during your UK stop, but always confirm this in advance. Be aware, also, that international trash and leftover catering are categorized as Category 1 waste and must be collected and incinerated.

5. Additional reading: "Business Aircraft Operations in the UK" series index

Links will be added as new articles are published.


Consider onboard CIQ clearance option – when available – in the UK, and be sure to have any required visas on hand prior to arrival. Always confirm pet restrictions with your ground handler in advance and do not allow any pet off the aircraft without pre-approval.


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

Later, we’ll discuss airport slots for the UK and their impact on your trip.

Got a question for Jason about this article?