1-Aircraft Registry

What is Aircraft Registry? A Complete Guide

If you are new to the world of civilian aircraft ownership you can be forgiven for wondering what aircraft registry is! At the Registry of Aruba, we support you every step of the way to get your private aircraft registered.

In this guide we will cover all the basics so you can understand exactly what aircraft registry is, the process involved in getting your aircraft registered and the benefits of registering outside of your home country.

What is Aircraft Registry?

Every civilian aircraft (nonmilitary plane), which includes private, business, and commercial planes, must have an aircraft registration.

An aircraft registration, also referred to as a tail number, is similar in function to a license plate or a ship registration. The same code must appear on the aircraft’s Certificate of Registration as well as the exterior of the aircraft. One registration is allowed per aircraft.
The aircraft registration is a unique identifier so the same code will only be assigned to one aircraft in the world.

Using an Aircraft Registry for Aircraft Registration

An aircraft registry is an aircraft management system that registers and tracks aircrafts. Each country has its own aircraft registry, but the registry is not limited to people with a taxable presence in the country. This means that if an individual owns a business in the United States, they can use The Registry of Aruba for aircraft registration.

Aircraft Registration with The Registry of Aruba

The Registry of Aruba is available for private, corporate, and commercial aircraft owners and operators. The maximum take-off weight for planes is 5,700 kgs and the maximum take-off weight for helicopters is 1,000 kgs.

The first step for registration is a formal email request submitted by the operator. The request should include the following information:

  • Aircraft location,
  • Potential dates for the airworthiness inspection,
  • Aircraft serial number and model,
  • Desired registration marks (if applicable), and
  • Completed 4.014.

Once all of the documentation has been received and the aircraft has passed the airworthiness inspection, the rest of the registration process can be completed in 24-48 hours.

Certificate of Registration

The Certificate of Registration is valid for up to 3 years or until the expiration date in the lease/management agreement.

The Registry of Aruba utilizes an online registration process, which enables a Certified True Copy of the certificate to be emailed directly to the registrant. The copy is valid for 15 days following the date of issue.

The original Certificate of Registration is sent via courier directly to the operator.

The Certificate of Registration must be available on the aircraft at all times.

Aircraft Registration Marks

Each country with an aircraft registry has an assigned unique prefix. For example, the prefix for the United States is N and the prefix for Aruba is P4. A series of 3 numbers or letters will follow the prefix. Aircraft registration marks can be designed by you or randomly selected.

As mentioned above, no aircraft registration is used more than once – it is exclusive to one aircraft only. The Registry of Aruba allows you to quickly search the database to see if a specific mark is available.

Recycling Aircraft Registration Marks

An aircraft registration mark can be recycled. After an aircraft has been decommissioned for at least 30 days, the aircraft registration mark can be reassigned. If the owner and operator remain the same, the mark can be assigned after one week. However, if an aircraft was involved in a fatal accident, the mark will not be reused.

Visual Specifications for Aircraft Registration Marks

The registration mark must be located on the fuselage, or the body, of the aircraft. The mark must be at least 12 inches high and in a sans-serif font.

Using an Aircraft Registration to Find Information

The aircraft registration can be used to search for information about a particular aircraft. According to The Points Guy, through a Google Search, you will be able to find:

  • when the aircraft registration certificate was awarded,
  • details about the engines,
  • where the plane has been, and
  • where the plane will be going

Reasons to Select an Aircraft Registry in a Different Country

While most aircrafts are registered in the jurisdiction where the owner is based, Business Aviation Advisor discusses how these circumstances may make it beneficial to register in a different country:


Offshore registrations may be confidential, while other registrations may be a public record.

Tax Advantages

There may be tax advantages depending on the nationality of the owner and where the aircraft will be operated.


Offshore aircraft registration could reduce liability exposure.

Expedited Processing

Depending on the aircraft registry, there may be less paperwork and it may take less time to receive the Certificate of Registration.

Customer Service

Smaller aircraft registries and government entities may be able to offer better, or more individualized, customer service than larger registries.

Aircraft registry 101

Should you have any additional questions about aircraft registration or The Registry of Aruba, please email hello@p4registry.com


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