Start now on The Civil Aviation Authority website
You need to apply to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for a route licence to operate UK-registered aircraft on commercial passenger or cargo flights outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The EEA includes European Union countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
You must already hold an air operator’s certificate (AOC) and an operating licence from the CAA before you can apply for a route licence.
A route licence will usually authorise flights anywhere within the scope of your AOC.
How to apply
You can download a route licence application form from the CAA website.
Applications should normally be made at least 6 months before you intend to start operating.
The CAA issues two classes of route licence, both of which allow the carriage of passengers, cargo or mail (or any combination of these). There are different licences for:
- scheduled licences, which authorise flights where at least some of the capacity is sold direct to the public without the involvement of a charterer
- charter licences, which authorise flights where all the capacity on the aircraft is sold to one or more charterers for resale
Send your completed application to the CAA’s Airline Licensing and Consumer Issues team.
There is no charge for applying for a route licence.
The CAA will publish your details on their website if your application is approved. People can submit written objections and the CAA may hold a public hearing to make a final decision.
You’ll be notified of the CAA’s decision at the end of the hearing.
A licence may be granted subject to the CAA’s terms.
Licences will last indefinitely, provided that your operating licence is not suspended or revoked.
Holding a route licence does not automatically allow you to start operating. You’ll also need to be granted traffic rights by the government at the other end of the route.
Negotiation of traffic rights is undertaken by the Department for Transport (DfT), although charter services airlines are generally required to seek permits directly from the countries concerned. The DfT will be able to provide more information on the availability of traffic rights.
Fines and penalties
If you operate flights outside the EEA without a route licence or in breach of any terms of your licence, you may be fined, imprisoned for up to 2 years or both.
Flights to or from the UK using foreign-registered aircraft (whether operated by a UK-licensed airline, another EEA carrier or a non-EEA airline) are not covered by route licences but by permits granted by the DfT. Contact the DfT for a permit if this applies to you.