If you have a private pilot license or are fortunate enough to be able to charter or own a plane, the question of can you fly a private plane internationally has probably crossed your mind.
In short, yes, a pilot (from private pilot license owners and up) can legally fly a private plane internationally with passengers onboard, but there are a few things you should be aware of first.
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Part 91 vs Part 135 Differences
Part 91 registered aircraft are only allowed for private use – i.e. a pilot can fly their friends, family or any other passengers just as long as they do not receive compensation or reimbursement for the flight.
A Part 135 operator provides commercial, non-scheduled aircraft operations. In other words, only airplanes on a Part 135 certificate are legally allowed to be charted.
While Part 135 operators are required to follow a much more detailed and strict operational and legal framework than a Part 91 operator, both are allowed to fly internationally.
What to Know Before Flying a Private Plane Internationally
1. Passports & Visas
Whether you are flying commercially or privately, everyone on board still needs their passports and visas in order to legally enter the country.
Again, passengers who fly private still need to follow the same rules as commercial air passengers do.
This means that private planes still need to go through customs.
The big difference – and definitely one of the perks of flying private – is that custom officials will often come to you. At international airports, you won’t have to stand in long lines to make declarations and possibly have your bag searched.
3. Traveling With Pets
At this point, you’ve probably noticed that just because you are flying private, it doesn’t mean that the rules and regulations no longer apply.
If traveling with a pet, you’ll need the correct documentation, including a pet passport and proof of vaccinations if required.
3 Perks of Flying a Private Plane Internationally
Besides traveling in luxury and comfort, and avoiding long security and customs lines, there are a few more perks of flying internationally.
Most people know the recommendation of getting to the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours before for international travel. This leaves plenty of time to check in, go through airport security, and mindlessly wait until you can board the plane.
Thankfully, when flying private, even if the private plane is flying internationally, you do not have to get to the airport three hours before your scheduled flight. Arriving just an hour before will give you plenty of time to have all of your documents reviewed and luggage loaded.
No Luggage Limitations
When flying internationally, passengers often bring more luggage with them. The good news is that if you are flying privately, there are virtually no luggage limitations or excess fees you will have to pay if you want to bring 2 or 10 suitcases with you.
Bring Your Pets
While you can still bring your pets with you when flying commercially, on a private plane you can keep your eyes on your pet at all times and even take them out to have a walk or feed them.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.