European Union (EU) Third-Country Operator (TCO) Resources

Bookmark and Share

Updated Dec. 1, 2014

Commercial air carriers must comply with the safety requirements of each country they visit. This is an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard that even holds true for foreign carriers visiting the US. The European Commission has adopted a unified authorization process requiring commercial air transport (CAT) operators from outside the European Union (EU), also known as “third-country operators” (TCOs), to obtain a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the 28 European Union states, EU overseas territories (Gibraltar, Aland Islands, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint-Martin, and Mayotte) and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). CAT operators include all airlines and charter operators, including U.S. Part 135 operations.

All commercial operators who fly to, or intend to fly to, Europe, even for fuel stops, are required to apply for TCO authorization. The new unified authorization process required all operators currently conducting operations to the EU to submit an application by November 26th, 2014 to avoid delays. EASA has until November 26th, 2016 to review all applications as part of the transition period. Until that time, all operators should continue to apply for entry permits to each country they plan to visit.

Operators who plan to begin operations to the EU after the initial application period, should apply for TCO authorization 30 days prior to their first trip.

All applications must include the following:

  • General operator information and contact details
  • Type of operation, AOC and Operations Specifications
  • Fleet data
  • Other safety information, including accident history

Review the instructions for the TCO authorization application. (PDF).

Review the application for TCO authorization. (PDF).

For more information about EU TCO authorization, contact NBAA's Operations Service Group at (202) 783-9250 or


EASA: Keep Third-Country Operator Information Up to Date
July 21, 2017
During a recent meeting with NBAA officials, Vincent Lambotte, EASA's senior foreign operators team leader, indicated that commercial operators should expect continued communication from EASA regarding their third-country operator (TCO) authorization. The initial implementation phase concluded in November 2016, and operators should make sure their contact information is updated and a backup point of contact is listed in anticipation of ongoing surveillance. Learn more.

European Third-Country Operator Requirement Now in Effect
Nov. 29, 2016
Operators to Europe should be aware that the third-country operator (TCO) requirement is in effect, as of Nov. 26, NBAA officials advised. The European Commission, in 2014, adopted a regulation that requires commercial air transport (CAT) operators from outside the European Union (EU), also known TCOs, to obtain a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the EU. CAT TCOs are required to demonstrate to the European Aviation Safety Agency compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, including implementation of a safety management system. A TCO authorization is not required for operators only overflying these areas without intending to land. Learn more about the TCO requirement.

EASA Adopts Business Aviation-Friendly TCO Changes
Jan. 4, 2016
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently announced two decisions favorable to business aircraft operators in the context of the new third-country operator (TCO) authorization scheme, which takes effect in November 2016. The changes follow discussions with EASA officials and leaders from NBAA and other organizations. EASA is notifying operators who applied for the TCO authorization that they will not require a change to existing flight data recorder (FDR) equipment, provided the already-installed FDR gear is on an aircraft that received a certificate of airworthiness prior to Nov. 26, 2016. EASA has also created a "virtual business aircraft" category, which will save operators time when adding a new aircraft type to their TCO authorization. Read more about the changes.

NBAA, CBAA to Address Concerns with EASA Third-Country Operator Approvals
Oct. 14, 2015
NBAA recently joined with the Canadian Business Aviation Association to address early signals that some business aircraft operators from outside the European Union (EU), termed "third-country operators" (TCOs), will be denied safety authorization by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to fly to, from or within the 28 EU states and other EU territories and trade areas. EASA last year implemented a unified standard for non-EU commercial air transport operators to apply for a single EU-wide safety authorization. However, some NBAA and CBAA members have reported that EASA officials indicated they would deny those applications based on differences between EASA's requirements and Canadian and U.S. regulations. Learn more.

European Third-Country Operator Applicability Clarified as Deadline Approaches
Nov. 7, 2014
The application deadline for European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA's) third-country operator (TCO) approval requirement is Nov. 26. “We recommend NBAA Member Companies subject to the TCO authorization complete the application process as soon as possible,” said Doug Carr, the Association’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs. “It is highly unlikely operators applying in these last few weeks before the deadline will receive the TCO authorization prior to Nov. 26, but EASA has indicated beginning the process by submitting the application is sufficient to continue operations into the applicable states and territories for the time being.” Learn more about EASA's TCO approval requirement.

EASA, EBAA to Host Third-Country Operator Seminar in Germany
Aug. 6, 2014
Earlier this year, the European Commission adopted a new regulation that provides commercial air transport operators from outside the European Union (EU), also known as third-country operators (TCOs), with a method of obtaining a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the EU. On Sept. 24, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the European Business Aviation Association will host a seminar in Cologne, Germany, to provide additional information on the application process, and answer questions. Since the TCO policy was unveiled, NBAA has worked to ensure that commercial air transport providers are aware of the policy's implementation, its likely implications for operators and the requirements for compliance. Learn more.

Europe’s Third-Country Operator Application Rule Applies– NBAA Webinar Has Answers to Questions
June 26, 2014
The European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA) last month began accepting applications for its new third-country operator (TCO) authorization, which requires commercial air transport operators from outside the European Union (EU) to receive a single EU-wide safety authorization to fly to, from or within the EU. The new requirement applies to all airlines and charter operations, including U.S. FAR Part 135 and other commercial operators. EASA has reported numerous discrepancies in application submissions. NBAA will host a webinar on July 30 with EASA representatives to discuss the TCO application process and address any questions or concerns from operators. Learn more about the third-country operator application process.

EASA Releases TCO Authorization Application
May 28, 2014
The third-country operator (TCO) regulation went into effect on May 26, and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is now accepting applications for a TCO authorization from commercial operators. Before applying for a TCO authorization, operators should study the regulatory material and other information provided. Operators who currently fly to Europe can continue to do so, but must submit their application for TCO authorization before Nov. 25, 2014. Learn more and apply for TCO authorization.

New EU-Wide Safety Authorization Required for U.S. Part 135 Operators
May 7, 2014
"While the goal of a single safety standard across the entire EU is a laudable goal, NBAA remains wary of the new burden this new requirement will place on small companies," said Doug Carr, NBAA's vice president of regulatory and international affairs. "NBAA staff have met with EASA officials to explain our concerns, and we have told them that we will be closely watching how this requirement is rolled out." Read more about the new requirement for TCOs.

EU TCO Resources

May/June 2014
Business Aviation Insider: “EASA Implements New Requirements for Third-Country Operators”

Business Aviation Insider: “EASA Rulemaking Activities Likely to Impact Business Aviation”
May 6, 2014
EASA Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material to Air Operations of Third Country Operators (PDF)
April 29, 2014
European Commission Press Release: Single EU-wide safety authorisation for foreign airlines flying to the EU
April 29, 2014
EU Regulation No 452/2014 (PDF)
April 1, 2011
Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) 2001-05 (PDF)