The word “offshore” can conjure images of money laundering, tax dodgers and oil spills, but in today’s business aviation world, as privacy and security become ever more precious commodities, offshore registry is becoming an acceptable alternative.
Britain’s coalition government–composed of an exotic combination of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats–is at war with itself in more ways than one. But its recent proposals for a new tax on private aviation are a prime example of this conflict.
Middle Eastern clients are the largest group of aircraft owners joining what is arguably the world's fastest growing aircraft register: the Isle of Man. The offshore tax haven located in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland formed its own register just over three years ago and more than 300 aircraft already have flocked to its jurisdiction.
The new Isle of Man aircraft registry could be a possible safe haven for N-registered business aircraft based in Europe. European civil aviation authorities, such as those of France and the UK, have indicated that they are unwilling to tolerate the situation in which aircraft that spend most of their time in Europe remain on the U.S.
In the year since it was created on May 1, 2007, the Isle of Man aircraft registry has established itself as a popular offshore registry for business jet owners. Just over 50 aircraft have taken the Isle of Man’s M-tail numbers, more than four times the number targeted by the British Crown Dependency’s government.
Starting May 1, the Isle of Man–a British Crown Dependency located in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland–will have its own aircraft registry, open only to corporate and private aircraft. The UK government recently notified ICAO that it is allowing the Isle of Man to use the previously idle “M” tail number registration that was allocated to the UK in 1919.
The UK Department for Transport expects to publish next month the long-awaited findings of its proposal to set restrictions for foreign-registered aircraft that are based in the UK. The comment period ended last October. The proposal would limit the amount of time foreign-registered aircraft can be based in the UK to 90 days in any 12-month period.
The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) is considering whether to prevent foreign-registered aircraft that are not operated commercially from being based permanently in Britain. It is about to launch a consultation process on proposals to revise legislation on foreign-registered aircraft.
The Isle of Man, a UK Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea, hopes to have its own aircraft register established by the end of next year. The island will operate the new register in parallel with the UK’s “G” register and market it as an additional benefit to individuals and companies seeking to benefit from the island’s fiscal and legal jurisdiction.