Contributor: Wardyński & Partners
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in Poland? Does Poland use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
The President of the Civil Aviation Authority (Prezes Urzędu Lotnictwa Cywilnego) is the government authority legally in charge of the civil aviation registry in Poland. On a practical level, there is a Civil Aircraft Registry Department at the Polish CAA which is devoted to this task and manages the registry on behalf (and under the supervision) of the President of the CAA.
Poland is a single-registry jurisdiction. An aircraft may be entered into the Polish register only if it has been deleted from all other national registers.
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
It is an owner registry, in the sense that the owner’s decision and consent is always required to register and deregister aircraft, as well as to amend entries. Moreover, the owner is always entitled to deregister an aircraft even without the consent of the operator.
At the same time, the operator, if different from the owner, must be disclosed in the register as well. In practice, it is usually the operator who handles registration matters and, in this case, it does require express authorization to do so from the owner.
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in Poland? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
An aircraft may be registered in the Polish registry only if its owner or operator is a Polish-based entity. With the President of the CAA’s approval other aircraft may be registered in Poland as well.
The documentation required to effect a registration includes:
- owner’s written declaration that the aircraft is not registered in another country’s aircraft registry;
- documents proving title to the aircraft (a bill of sale suffices);
- documents proving existence and perfection of other in rem rights to the aircraft, which includes collaterals in the form of aircraft mortgage, pledge, liens or similar;
- documents proving the operator’s right to use the aircraft (such as a lease agreement);
- excerpts from the owner and operator’s official registers (if companies or other legal entities), proving their incorporation and their rules of representation;
- power of attorney (if acting via an attorney-in-fact); and
- pictures (photographs) of the aircraft.
On 1 January 2021 the hitherto applicable ministerial regulation (a form of statutory instrument) setting out the details of the registration process, lost force and no replacement regulation has been issued. While this should not in theory ban registration of new aircraft, and the above list of documents will remain largely relevant, it is possible that additional or different requirements will be introduced.
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in Poland?
Aviation fees are updated each year, but the changes are usually negligible. As of 2021, aircraft registration fees for airplanes and helicopters depend on MTOW and are as follows:
- < 1000 kg – PLN 117,
- 1000 – 5 700 kg – PLN 347,
- 5 700 – 20 000 kg – PLN 919, and
- > 20 000 kg – PLN 2,295.
Apart from the registration fee, there are other compulsory, albeit minor administrative fees:
- for reservation of registration marks – PLN 37,
- for aircraft radio (frequency) licence – PLN 82, and
- for each PoA used in the registration proceedings – PLN 17.
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in Poland?
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of Poland?
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in Poland? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of Poland (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Transfer of title requires an agreement (contract), such as a purchase/sale agreement, donation, or swap. The agreement should be in writing for evidentiary reasons, but there is no requirement for any special form, such as a deed, notarization of signatures, etc., for its legalization. Therefore, there are no stamp duties or other public fees.
However, to be effective against third parties, not only the transferor and transferee, but the transfer of title also has to be recorded in the civil aircraft registry by updating the entry for the owner. The cost of updating the register is PLN 37.
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
The following information is disclosed:
- aircraft – make, type, manufacturer serial number and registration marks,
- owner – name, address and proxy,
- operator – name, address and proxy,
- pledges, liens, mortgages and other third-party rights in rem, and
- agreement between aviation authorities on handing over regulatory oversight for the aircraft (if any – rare in practice).
Technically, some additional information might be recorded, but this is rare in practice.
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of Poland made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
Yes, the register is made publicly available by law. A written excerpt from the register is subject to a fee of PLN 347. However, in practice, it is usually possible to informally check the basic information on an aircraft by calling the Civil Aircraft Registry Department at the CAA.
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in Poland (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
There is no limit on the type of operations associated with the registration of a civil aircraft with the Polish registry of civil aircraft, or there are no separate registers for different aircraft uses. The only plausibly related exception is the separate register for state-owned aircraft, for the military, police, fire departments, etc.
Of course, the above is without prejudice to other regulations restricting the right to use aircraft for specific types of operations, including those associated with the aircraft’s airworthiness, operator’s licence, and any other permits that may be required.
11. Does the civil aviation authority in Poland authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has Poland entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
Yes. In accordance with the ICAO repository for article 83-bis agreements, Polish authorities have entered into delegation agreements with the authorities of the following countries (ICAO legal repository item no. in brackets):
- Ireland (4902-E, 5066-E),
- Austria (4907-E),
- Italy (4934-E),
- Spain (5597-E, 5678-E, 5729-E, 5748-E), and
- Malta (5871-E).
12. Is there a separate register of aircraft mortgages and/or leases and/or security interests in Poland?
Polish law does not have the concept of “aircraft mortgage”. An ordinary mortgage does not apply to aircraft (only to real estate). The type of security closest in function to an aircraft mortgage proper is a so-called registered pledge which is registered not only in the aircraft registry but also in a separate register.
Another relevant security interest is a fiscal (tax) pledge which may be imposed on aircraft, as well as other chattels, by a tax authority. These fiscal pledges are recorded in a separate register kept by the tax offices.
13. What are the formalities required to register a mortgage / lease / security interest in the national registry of Poland (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Under Polish law, an aircraft cannot be subject to a “mortgage” proper (reference answer to question 12), and the role of that type of security is performed by a registered pledge. This is formed by a written, contractual arrangement (i.e., consent of the owner of the aircraft is required in order to establish such pledge) and then perfected by entry into the court register of pledges. It is also disclosed in the Polish Register of Civil Aircraft. The entire process normally takes two to three weeks.
14. Is a mortgage priority notice an available security instrument for aircraft financiers in Poland?
15. Does an aircraft mortgage duly registered in the national registry of Poland extend to engines and other parts of such aircraft (either installed or not on the airframe)?
The legal status of aircraft engines is very contentious and ultimately unresolved in case law. Out of prudence, we normally advise our clients to obtain separate securities for the engines.
16. What statutory liens (if any) would rank prior to an aircraft mortgage duly registered in the national registry of Poland?
Only if other statutory liens were registered earlier.
17. Do the laws of Poland provide for possessory rights and/or rights of detention over aircraft in favor of third parties (such as airport taxes, customs duties, air navigation charges, crew’s wages, MRO’s receivables)?
Rules do exist concerning airport fees and air navigation charges but as Poland is a party to the Rome Convention on the Precautionary Arrest of Aircraft, it is unclear whether detention is allowable or enforceable on aircraft used for the regular transport of passengers.
18. Are foreign law-governed security agreements (e.g., mortgages) recognized in Poland in order to validly create a security interest over an aircraft registered in the national registry of Poland? If so, are there any formalities/requirements to bear in mind?
Yes, foreign law-governed security agreements are recognized, provided that those securities have been created in accordance with their applicable law before registering the aircraft in Poland and provided they are disclosed in the Polish aircraft registry.
Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, it must be stressed that, to our knowledge, there is no record of any instances or even attempts to enforce foreign-law securities on aircraft in Poland. However, important, and often deep differences between national securities and enforcements regimes may raise a number of issues making enforcement of foreign-law securities more complicated, lengthy and, possibly, not effective. For this reason, we normally advise our clients to obtain local securities to ensure their practical enforceability in lieu of, or in addition to foreign collaterals, e.g., NY-law mortgages.
19. Are foreign law-governed leases recognized in Poland in order to validly lease an aircraft registered in the national registry of Poland to a lessee incorporated in Poland? If so, are there any formalities/requirements to bear in mind?
Yes, they are treated like any other foreign-law contracts and are enforceable subject to limited exceptions covering mandatory rules (lois de police) and public policy. Foreign-law leases, most often under English law, are commonplace on the Polish aviation market.
20. Has Poland ratified the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the related Aircraft Protocol? Has Poland made any declarations to better determine the scope of application of the Convention / Protocol in Poland? If so, what is the impact of such declarations on aircraft registration issues? Are there any specific aspects relating to the enforcement of IDERA’s to be considered?
No, Poland has not ratified the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and Aircraft Protocol. It should be assumed that protections offered by the Convention do not apply and will not be enforceable in Poland.
One significant consequence of this is that Polish law and authorities do not acknowledge IDERAs or export PoAs. However, this does not affect the rights of the owner (at least not significantly) because, under Polish law, the owner is always allowed to deregister and export the aircraft, even when the operator is against deregistration. This is subject to the operator’s contractual rights under the lease. These do not affect the regulatory aspect of the situation and especially the right to deregister and process formalities concerning export.
21. What are the requirements and documentation to deregister an aircraft from Poland? How does the aircraft deregistration process work?
Deregistration requires an application from the owner, or owner-authorized operator, to the CAA and handing over the Certificate of Registration, and certificate of airworthiness, without prejudice for the possibility of issuing an export CofA. Normally, the process is quick. The only practical issue that may arise is the need to physically return the Certificate of Registration usually held by the operator onboard the aircraft.
22. What fees are payable to deregister an aircraft from Poland?
There are no fees.
23. Is the consent of the mortgagee / lessor (as the case may be) required in order to deregister an aircraft from Poland?
Only the consent of the owner is required (who may, of course, happen to be the lessor, but this status is irrelevant).
24. What are the usual practical difficulties (if any) involved in deregistering aircraft from Poland?
Usually the only difficulty, if any, lies in logistics. Deregistration requires physically handing over the Certificate of Registration which is normally kept by the operator onboard the aircraft. This requires thoughtful organization and coordination of deregistration, return of aircraft (redelivery) and export (if planned post deregistration).
25. How long does deregistration take, both where there is co-operation from the defaulted party (mortgagor / lessee / Operator) and where there is no such co-operation from it?
With good cooperation, deregistration may be done on the day of filing, or at most in a few days. We are not aware of any situations where the operator has refused to cooperate in deregistration, based on our overall experience with the CAA and regulatory matters. We are not aware of any situations where the operator has refused to cooperate in deregistration. Based on our overall experience with the CAA and regulatory matters, we estimate that it could take between one to three weeks if the main difficulty is persuading the CAA to accept a solution to deregister in the absence of the actual handover of the Certificate of Registration. There is a small but non-negligible risk that the process could take longer and/or could require engaging other authorities or the repossession of the COR from the operator.
26. Please outline the applicable repossession rules under the national laws of Poland (and the Cape Town Convention, if applicable) following an event of default under a mortgage or a lease, including registration issues with the national registry in Poland.
It must be stressed that with a few exceptions that are not relevant here, Polish law does not allow self-help enforcement of civil claims, including repossession. Of course, if the debtor (lessee/operator/mortgagor) willingly hands over the aircraft, or at least tacitly accepts the fact of repossession and no force is required, repossession may be carried out without the involvement of government authorities.
However, if enforcement proper is required (i.e., there is a dispute and/or lack of cooperation of the aircraft’s possessor), it may be conducted only using the court enforcement system. Normally, this requires litigation until there is a final and enforceable judgment, which is then presented for enforcement to a court bailiff.
In order to expedite the process and forego the need for lengthy litigation, the lessee/operator/mortgagor may be asked to issue a security in the form of a so-called deed of voluntary submission to enforcement. This acts as an enforceable judgment once a writ of enforceability has been attached by a court in very short and purely formal proceedings.