Send Three Web Submissions, Wait An Hour And Fly To France Dave White

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Send Three Web Submissions, Wait An Hour And Fly To France Dave White

V4.2 May 2014

OK, you’ve read all those articles in the magazines that talk about flying to France, but it still

looks like far too much hassle:

§ Flight Plans  whatre they all about?

§ There are loads of documents to take, arent there?

§ Loads of notice required to Customs and Immigration.

§ And what about Special Branch?

§ And Customs in France?

§ The planning seems too much, and then theres the thought of all that water&

Well, what if I told you that with only a small amount of preparation over and above normal

flight planning, you could depart only ONE HOUR after making the decision to go and the only

thing extra you need to do before you leave is to fill out three simple forms on the Web. In

fact, it’s even better than that, since modern flight planning software such as SkyDemon will

complete most of the forms automatically.

Those Three Web Submissions

They are:

· Outbound Leg Flight Plan Form

· Inbound Leg Flight Plan Form

· Inbound General Aviation Report to Customs & Immigration


Well, you’re going abroad, so you‘ll need passports for all. You may also need to prove your

credentials so take PPL, radio licence and medical. Other required documents relate to the

aircraft (CofA, Registration, Radio Licence, Insurance Certificate) and it is useful to keep them

all together in a folder in the aircraft – leave photocopies elsewhere for safety, I suggest. The

final document you need is a copy of the Interception Signals in case (let’s hope not) you ever

see a Rafale fighter on your wingtip. These can be found within CAA Safety Sense Leaflet

No.11 – see later.

Outbound Trip

It’s a little known fact that one can fly to an EU Country such as France from the UK without

telling anyone at all (except Air Traffic). You need to fly to a foreign airfield with permanent

Customs and Immigration, it is true – but there are lots of those within easy striking distance of

the Channel Coast. There are also many French airfields who have Customs and Immigration

on request, so if you find that the destination that you have set your heart on doesn’t have

permanent Customs, do not despair – they may only require a short notice period. If they

don’t, well - simply clear Customs elsewhere and then continue your journey – it needn’t even

cost you much, as most French airfields don’t bother with landing fees.

Remember I said you need to tell Air Traffic? Well, apart from the radio work in the air, this is

the FIRST of the three web submissions – the Outbound Flight Plan. There is a legal

requirement to file one of these when crossing an International frontier, and whilst at first sight

they may appear to make limited sense and be a little daunting, do not despair – they aren’t

that bad. In fact, there is a CAA Safety Sense Leaflet (SSL No.20) that demystifies it

completely, and I’ve included an example version of a completed (paper) form at the end of

this article. Nowadays you would create an account with AFPEx

( and use that, or (even easier) seamlessly via a VFR

planning programme such as SkyDemon.

Return Trip

For this leg of the journey, you will need to file a Flight Plan as you are crossing an

international boundary again. This is your SECOND web submission, and you can file it from

the UK before you depart. Most of the contents of this will be the same as the outbound Flight

Plan except for obvious things such as times, destination and departure airfields, alternates


You will also need to inform UK Customs and Immigration at least 4 hours before your return.

You do this using the General Aviation Report Form, which is very straightforward and simply

asks for names, addresses, DOB and Passport Numbers for each occupant as well as times

and airfields for outbound and return. (There is actually no specific requirement to inform

them of your outbound timings, but there it is on the form).

Once again, for a day trip it makes sense to do send this before you depart – and whilst the

same form needs to go separately to Customs and Immigration, it is done to one destination

so this is your THIRD web submission. There are a number of web addresses for this, and

more are coming on line as I write. The original was hosted by AOPA


There is no requirement to inform Special Branch for trips to the Continent.

So why wait an hour?

The reason you cannot leave immediately after sending your three submissions is because

your outbound Flight Plan needs time to be entered into the system, and an hour is advised to

ensure this. You must activate the flight plan in the air by radio (e.g. with London Information)

or just before departure by phone.

And that’s all there is to it. Easy!

But I Don’t Want to Go to France – I Want To Go To Alderney

Sheesh – there’s always one, isn’t there?

Because the Channel Islands are not in the European Union, the rules above don’t apply.

However, most of what is required is the same – it’s mainly that the notification times are

longer, and there are additional notification requirements.

Essentially, the Customs & Immigration General Aviation Report now must be submitted for

the outbound leg, and a minimum 12 hours in advance. You also need to inform Special

Branch (Why? Don’t ask me!), which uses exactly the same GAR form sent to yet another

user - again, 12 hours’ notice is required. (Nowadays, the online GAR submission will send

the form to all three Agencies).

But Can’t You Make It Even Easier?

Oh, alright then. At the end of this article are copies of sample General Aviation Report and

Flight Plan Forms, as well as a single page Aide Memoire I put together that distils all of the

above information. Feel free to copy and distribute.

But What About All That Water?

Well, there is that. However, the engine doesn’t know it’s over water, and even on the long

crossing from Isle of Wight to Cherbourg you will only be over water for about 35-40 minutes

in a typical tourer. Lifejackets aren’t that expensive, or they can be hired for a small fee from

many airfields, along with liferafts. Safety Sense Leaflet 21 on Ditching is an essential read.

If you wish, training courses in swimming pools are available to let you experience use of the

lifejacket and dinghy, and whilst not essential is very worthwhile. It’s fun, too – which is more

than the real thing would be!

CAA Safety Sense Leaflets:

Still not convinced yet? Well, what if I told you HMRC will subsidise your trip?

Difficult to believe, I know, but - it’s true! If you export Hydrocarbon fuel from the UK, you are

entitled to claim back the duty paid, up to the amount in your tanks when you depart – even if

you dont burn it all during your return journey. This is because it is the act of exporting

the fuel that triggers the right to claim; re-importing is irrelevant. So, let’s say you have a full

100 litre fuel tank – HMRC will pay you over £35, which is certainly enough for a very decent

meal at your destination.

Claiming is relatively straightforward, and to start with you should familiarise yourself with the

claim form and guidance material.

Claim Form:

Guidance Material:


If the above links are broken (the site gets rearranged every now and again), just search the

HMRC website for “Form HO60” (That’s Hotel Oscar Six Zero), and the accompanying

guidance material (“Excise Duty Drawback”).

· At the time of writing (May 2014), the Excise Duty rates (that is, the amount you can

claim back) are:

o £0.3770 per litre for AVGAS

o £0.5795 per litre for MOGAS

· You can only claim for the amount actually in your tanks  youll sometimes hear the

misconception that you can claim up to maximum tank capacity.

· Youll probably need to provide proof of UK uplift (i.e. Duty paid) for the amount in your

tanks, so keep those receipts!

· You will need to state on the form the date that the aircraft last returned from overseas

the intention is presumably to ensure that you do not export the same fuel more than


· Some airfields (e.g. Lydd) make this even easier. If you uplift fuel there prior to your

next destination being outside the UK, they will sell it to you with Excise Duty already

removed – you will be asked to sign a simple declaration to confirm your intention to

depart overseas, and that if you do not you will be liable for the Duty saved.


Priority Addressee(s)

Filing time Originator

Specific identification of addressee(s) and/or originator

3. Message type 7. Aircraft identification 8. Flight rules Type of flight


9. Number Type of Aircraft Wake turbulence cat. 10. Equipment

R100 / L S/ A

13. Departure Aerodrome Time

EGDM 0630

15. Cruising speed Level Route


16. Destination Aerodrome

Total EET

hrs/min Alternate 2nd alternate


18. Other information

DOF/24 JUNE EET/LFRR0035 RMK/ MOBILE PHONE +44 7725 123456

Supplementary information (Not to be transmitted in FPL messages)

19. Endurance Emergency Radio

Hrs / min P.O.B UHF VHF ELBA

E/ 04 00 P/ 002 R/ X V E

Survival Eq. Polar Desert Maritime Jungle Jackets Light Floures UHF VHF

S / X X M X J / L F U V


Number Capacity Cover Colour

D / 01 006 C YELLOW

Aircraft colour and markings



N /



Filed by

Space reserved for additional requirements

< < º


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< < º (FPL < < º

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I suggest that you read the CAA Safety Sense Leaflet No. 20 (available on the Internet) in

order to fully understand how to complete one of these. 10 minutes with that and you will

wonder what all the fuss was about. However, a few points worth making now are as



You must remember to do this, otherwise French SAR may be called out and you may well

be billed – which is unlikely to be cheap. Your destination airfield can be requested to do

this for you, or for peace of mind you can do it yourself on 0810 437 837 (“0810 IFR VFR”).

Field 9: Number This field is used if you are travelling as a group of aircraft, otherwise

leave blank. You would provide the registrations and types of the other aircraft in the

formation in field 18 “Other Information”.

Field 9: Type of Aircraft “R100” is the appropriate code for a Robin Aiglon. A Cessna

172 would be “C172” – no surprise there. Other Owners can look on the ICAO website for a

fairly comprehensive ICAO list, or use “ZZZZ” and put “TYPE: BOSCOMBE WHIZZBAT” (or

whatever) in Field 18.

Field 13: Time Don’t forget – time in this field is in UTC (GMT)

Field 15: Route “DCT” means “Direct”, so this example is Boscombe Down (EGDM)

DIRECT to SAM VOR (Southampton) DIRECT ‘GARMI’ DIRECT to Cherbourg (LFRC).

GARMI’ is a reporting point at the FIR boundary on the VFR route south of the Isle of

Wight, and it and similar reporting points are marked on the UK 1:500,000 charts. The

French require an indication of the point of entry into their airspace, for which these points

are convenient. Alternatively you can use Lat/Long in the format “50N00123W”, or bearing

and distance from a route reporting point or navigation aid: “SAM18057”.

Field 18: Other Information If we are planning an early morning start then we can send in

the Flight Plan the evening before – it’s only a minimum of an hour pre-takeoff, remember.

In such a case, we would use “DOF/24 JUNE” in order to be explicit about the Date Of


You should also provide Estimated Elapsed Time (EET) to the International (FIR) Boundary

crossing point identified in the Route at Item 15 (see comment above). In this case, the FIR

Boundary is LFRR (i.e. Brest FIR), and you think it will take you 35 minutes to get there.

Also, it is good practice for the operators to have a mobile phone number for you, so include

as a Remark (RMK). If you did forget to close your Flight Plan, the French Authorities might

just call this number first before triggering SAR Action… It is by no means obligatory,


Field 19: Emergency Radio, Survival Equipment & Dinghies The comprehensive

equipment available through most clubs will allow you to avoid crossing out many of these

Crossing the Channel / Irish Sea Aide Memoire

V4.2 © D J M White, May 2014

The following assumes that aircraft is on a C of A (i.e. NOT an LAA Permit) and that all occupants hold EU passports.

Permits: France, Germany, Eire as for CofA aircraft. Else check the LAA website for Leaflet TL 2.08

Personal Documentation: Aircraft Documentation:

· Pilots Licence · Certificate of Registration

· Pilots Medical Certificate · Certificate of Airworthiness

· Pilots Radio Licence · Aircraft Radio Licence

· Passport(s) · Insurance Certificate

· Health Form E111(s)

(Not compulsory)

· Interception Signals List

(e.g. CAA Safety Sense Leaflet 11)

NOTE: Documents should be the originals, but obviously sensible to leave photocopies at home!

Aircraft & Survival Equipment:

· Maps & Flight Guides

· Lifejackets

· Tie Downs

· Immersion Suit (Consider)

· Liferaft (Consider)

· Aircraft Cover (Consider)

· Sun Shade (Consider)

NOTE: A Mode A transponder, or better, is required if flying to/from the Channel Islands


Flight Plan Min. 1 hour before departure

Activate with FIS (London Info) when


Foreign Customs Notification Submitted – Check Notice Period

(Not required for CI / NI / IoM / Eire)

UK Customs & Immigration

Declaration (GAR Form)

Not specifically required if outbound

to EU.

Min. 24h if non-EU; 12h if Channel Islands

Special Branch Permission2

(GAR Form)

Min. 12 hours if outbound CI/IoM/NI/ Eire


UK: 0208 745 3111 / 0208 745 3163

1 Or activate by departure airfield / “Responsible Person” Tel. 0208 745 3111 / 0208 745 3163

2 If required, e.g. If destination is Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Eire.


Flight Plan Min. 1 hour before departure

Activate with FIS when airborne3

Foreign Customs Cleared (Not required if outbound from CI/NI/IOM/Eire)

UK Customs & Immigration

Notification (GAR Form)

Notify min. 4 hrs prior to arrival from EU4

Min. 24h if non-EU; 12h if Channel Islands

Special Branch Permission, if reqd.5

(GAR Form)

Min. 12 hours prior to arrival


(See NOTE below)

FRANCE: 0810 437 837 (“0810 IFR VFR”)

UK: 0208 745 3111 / 0208 745 3163

3 Unless activated by departure airfield or “Responsible Person”.

4 Unless arriving at “Designated” Customs airfield, when prior notification NOT required. 4 hours also required if

returning to Private airfield from EU. Specific permission needed if non-EU to private airfield.

5i.e. if departure from Channel Islands, IoM, Eire, Northern Ireland. (Fulfils Immigration Reqmt.)

NOTE: Flight plan closure on returning to UK is NOT compulsory. Search & Rescue will only be called out if “responsible person” alerts

emergency services when aircraft is overdue. THIS IS NOT THE CASE ELSEWHERE, when failing to close can be expensive!

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