Like most things to do with the CAA and the FAA, the process of using your CAA / EASA issued UK PPL or Part-FCL PPL to get a piggyback or FAA license is unnecessarily over-complicated. The available information on how to do this in the UK is pretty sparse, so we’re going to try and cut through all the BS and present a step by step guide.
First, you have to remember that whether you’re a PPL, CPL or ATPL holder, this process only gives you VFR permissions under PPL on an FAA-issued license. The Federal Aviation Authority have additional processes and procedures in place to add ratings and qualifications to your license.
As this is a “piggyback” license, the permission and ratings only remain valid while your CAA “master license” is current. For example, if you let your rating lapse on your CAA document, your FAA rating is also out of date.
You can transfer an instrument rating, but you will have to sit a ground-exam in the USA at a recognised FAA facility.
Here’s a link to the FAA page: https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/foreign_license_verification/
Step 1 – Authorise the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK to share your information
You need to fill out an SRG1160 form and submit it to the CAA. This can be done online here: https://apply.caa.co.uk/CAAPortal/servlet/SmartForm.html?formCode=VLI
This is going to cost (at the time of writing) £46 which you can pay on a debit or credit card.
Once this form is complete, you will have given your permission for the CAA to share your information with the FAA.
Step 2 – Sign up for an IACRA account
IACRA stands for Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application. This is the office under the Federal Aviation Administration which looks after license applications.
Sign up for a free applicant account here: https://iacra.faa.gov/IACRA/Default.aspx
Once you have done this, you can navigate to the “start foreign license verification process” To verify a UK PPL or Part-FCL PPL you’ll need to select the option for “Private Pilot (61.75)”
You will be asked to upload a copy of your CAA license and a copy of your medical. Both should be current at the time of uploading.
Once everything is uploaded, you will be sent a digital copy of your application.
Step 3 – FAA Issue a letter
At this point, the CAA and the FAA will begin to talk.
AFB-720 contacts the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to verify the details provided by the applicant. The CAA provides response to the FAA.
A copy of the verification letter is uploaded to the applicant’s IACRA account, you should also receive an email confirmation.
The verification letter will be valid for a six month period unless the CAA specifies a shorter period or if the foreign license expires prior to the six month validation period.
Step 4 – Complete the application process
Once you have the letter from the FAA you’re ready to complete the process and have your temporary license issued.
You need to submit the letter and your original documents, including your CAA license, Medical certificate and passport to an FAA-designated Office or representative.
This is either an actual FAA office, designated IACRA location, flight school or FAA FSDO (Flight Standards District Offices) office or a foreign pilot examiner or DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) to complete the application process.
You can complete this step in the USA before your first flight (The FAA require biennial check rides with an instructor), by visiting an office in the USA, this step will be free.
If you wnat to get this all sorted before you head out to the USA, you can contact a UK based FAA examiner or DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) but they may charge a fee for this service.
At your meeting with the FAA-designated office or examiner/DPE, your documents will be verified and upload through the IACRA website. You and the recognised official will digitally sign the application.
Checklist – What you should take with you to the meeting.
- Your IACRA login details (not essential but its useful to have)
- Your current CAA issued license (or EASA, UK PPL or Part-FCL PPL)
- Your current Medical Certificate
- Your current Passport
All of your paperwork must be in-date, current and valid. You can’t apply unless you are current.
Step 5 – Temporary certificate issued
Once the FAA office or Examiner/DPE are satisfied, they will issue a temporary certificate.
Step 6 – permanent license sent out
Your permanent license will be sent from the Oklahoma FAA office to the address you used for the IACRA account.
At the time of writing this, there are two DPE’s (Designated Pilot Examiner) in the UK. Tom Hughston and Adam House. You get in touch with us here for their contact information.