Contributor: Attorneys at Law in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners
Author: Božidar Milošević and Vlatko Tokarev
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in North Macedonia? Does North Macedonia use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
The general rules relating to the use of digital platforms and electronic signatures are provided in the local Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Confidential Services (“Electronic Documents Law”), which is aligned with Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market.
Other than the Electronic Documents Law, no special rules regarding the execution of documents with the use of digital platforms or any electronic signatures by the Civil Aviation Agency of the Republic of North Macedonia (“Aviation Authority”) apply. However, even though the general rules from the Electronic Documents Law should apply in procedures before the Aviation Authority, in practice, that is not the case due to different reasons.
For example, despite the fact that under the Electronic Documents Law, electronic form (including signature) is equivalent to written form, the authorities still have a conservative approach to what is considered “written form” under the Law on Obligations and Real Rights Matters in the Air Traffic. This law regulates matters regarding establishing leases or mortgages and requires written form for these purposes. At the same time, it provides only one explicit case when an electronic form is equivalent to a written form (i.e., in the case of agreements for the transport of passengers) and when a written form is not required. Hence, the agreements for leases or mortgages of aircraft should be in written (hardcopy) form. In addition, the security agreements/agreements for establishing mortgages are usually certified by a notary public in order to include so-called “enforcement clauses” and enable enforcement of the mortgage without a court decision. For this purpose, a wet ink signature is required during the procedure in front of the notary.
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
Under the general rules of the Electronic Documents Law, a qualified electronic signature is the only equivalent to a handwritten signature. All qualified electronic signatures must be a) uniquely linked to the signatory, b) capable of identifying the signatory, c) created using electronic signature creation data that the signatory can (with a high level of confidence) use under his sole discretion, d) linked to the data signed therewith in such a way that any subsequent change in the data
is detectable and e) created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures. Additionally, the Electronic Documents Law prescribes in detail all technical requirements for qualified certificates and qualified trust service providers.
In accordance with the previously mentioned, there are no legal obstacles to acceptance of an electronic signature, subject to the following important qualifications:
– the use of a qualified electronic signature would be required;
– there might be technical obstacles, as some public institutions might not have the technical means to accept an electronic signature;
– there is still a rather conservative market approach, and the use of electronic signatures is not widely accepted in practice.
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in North Macedonia? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
Yes, the Aviation Authority keeps a register for Aircraft and Aircraft Documents or Aircraft Lease Documents, including mortgages, in hardcopy and electronic form. The Aviation Authority keeps the electronic register in line with the ICAO standards.
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in North Macedonia?
No, the Aviation Authority only accepts hard copies of originals or notarized copies of the documents relating to the aircraft registered in the aircraft register.
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in North Macedonia?
As explained in answer to question 2, documents signed via a qualified electronic signature are legally valid and enforceable in North Macedonia, but such digitally signed documents are still rarely accepted in practice.
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of North Macedonia?
The Law on Civil Procedure provides that lawsuits, countersuits, legal remedies and other statements, pleadings, proposals and announcements may be submitted either in writing or via electronic means to the admissions office of the competent court. However, as far as we are aware, this option is not used in practice, and the willingness of courts to accept electronic submissions of procedural documents is not tested and confirmed.
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in North Macedonia? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of North Macedonia (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
There is no legal obstacle for courts in North Macedonia to accept procedural documents executed digitally, considering that the Law on Civil Procedure explicitly provides that a submission may be signed electronically. In practice, submitted procedural documents always contain a handwritten signature, and we are not aware of any submitted electronic documents.
To be legally valid and enforceable, digitally signed documents must be signed via an electronic identification scheme registered by the Ministry.
The Electronic Documents Law does not make a distinction between digital signatures created by public or private entities.
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
There are no other formal requirements for the validity of documents related to the fact that they are signed digitally. The consent of the parties to digital signatures is not prescribed as a mandatory element, but it is advisable that such express reference is included considering the conservative market approach to the acceptance of electronic signatures.
In terms of the electronic document itself, the Minister for Information Society and Administration has adopted a Rulebook on the Mandatory Elements of Electronic Documents (“Rulebook”), according to which an electronic document must meet certain technical requirements and contains the following elements (regulated in more details in the Rulebook):Header, at the top of the document, containing the logo of the issuer; Body, as the central part of the document, consisting of the text prescribing the essential meaning and substance of the document; Footer, at the bottom of the document.
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of North Macedonia made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
Although there are no legal obstacles to the acceptance of digital signatures, the Aviation Authority in North Macedonia is, in practice, reluctant to accept digitally signed documents. Hence, it advised that all documents filed for registration with the Aviation Authority in North Macedonia contain a handwritten signature.
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in North Macedonia (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
Printed paper aviation documents are generally used. The Aviation Authority does not use blockchain technology.
11. Does the civil aviation authority in North Macedonia authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has North Macedonia entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
If a certain document needs to be notarized abroad, it also has to include an apostille or other type of legalization, depending on whether the country of notarization is a signatory party to the 1961 Convention on Apostille. This also applies to electronically executed documents that are notarized abroad.
Most of the aviation documents that should be provided to the Aviation Authority do not need to be notarized. However, some of them are notarized in practice for greater legal certainty and easier enforcement (as explained in the answer to question no. 1 regarding the security documents). There is a possibility for carrying out the notarization electronically in North Macedonia. However, as far as we are aware, this has not been tested in practice.
a. Has North Macedonia implemented the e-Apostille program?
No, North Macedonia has not implemented the e-Apostille program yet.