Contributor: Estrella LLC
Author: Odemaris Chacón Varona, Esq.
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in Puerto Rico? Does Puerto Rico use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
Please refer to my answer to Question #3. For PR-specific documents (not preempted by federal legislation), local law allows for electronic signatures. 10 L.P.R.A.§4086. Also, please note that some of the documents mentioned in the question, ex. mortgages need to be executed through public deeds. In the case of public deeds in Puerto Rico, they cannot be executed either through digital platforms or electronic signatures. They are done in person.
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
There are no specific platform and/or technological requirements.
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in Puerto Rico? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
Not applicable. There’s no local Puerto Rico Aviation Authority. The Federal Aviation Act (FAA), 49 U.S.C. § 40103 (a)(1), states that the government of the United States “has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.” Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. §41713 (b)(1) of the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), the general rule is that “… a State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of at least 2 States may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under this subpart.“ As evidenced by the aforementioned section of the ADA, the states have no jurisdiction in matters related to pricing, routes and services offered by air carriers since there’s preemption.
Please note that §41713 (a) of the ADA also indicates that the word “State” includes the fifty (50) states, the District of Columbia, and the territories or possessions of the United States. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. Therefore, Puerto Rico is included under the definition of “State,” which means that the ADA applies in Puerto Rico.
The term “related to a price, route, or service” should be interpreted to preempt state law claims “having a connection with, or reference to, airline rates, routes, or services.”
American Airlines, Inc. v. Wolens, 513 U.S. 219, 223 (1995) (quoting Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U.S. 374, 384 (1992) (internal quotations marks omitted).
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in Puerto Rico?
Please see my answer to question #1.
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in Puerto Rico?
Please see my answer to question #3.
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of Puerto Rico?
Both the Puerto Rico State Court and the Puerto Rico Federal District Court have websites where you can upload lawsuits, pleadings and motions in electronic format.
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in Puerto Rico? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of Puerto Rico (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Yes. Documents signed electronically are accepted. If you mean whether you could include them as exhibits, yes. However, in order to decrease the chances of a valid challenge, preferably, it should be at least a certified copy of the digitally executed document. If you mean motions executed digitally, that should not be a problem, as Puerto Rico First Instance State Court allows for electronic signatures in motions. The attorneys simply sign with a “s/insert attorney’s name”, rather than with a signature per se. Please note that the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court still require motions to be signed with wet signatures.
Is there any specific certification required?
No, certification is required. However, the digital signatures accepted in motions for the Court of First Instance must be the “S/” and not a digital copy of the physical signature.
Does Puerto Rico make any distinction between official digital signatures and private digital signatures?
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of Puerto Rico made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
Please refer to my answer to question #3. However, I will add that if any real property was involved, it would need to also comply with the Puerto Rico requirements. However, I don’t think that’s the case with the registration involved with the Aviation Authority.
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in Puerto Rico (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
Please refer to my answer to question #3.
11. Does the civil aviation authority in Puerto Rico authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has Puerto Rico entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
Those who require the certification of a document to be used in a foreign country must use the apostille or certification service, as corresponds, which is issued by the Puerto Rico Department of State. Its purpose is to authenticate the signatures of public officials on documents to be used outside Puerto Rico.
For Hague Convention countries, an apostille is issued pursuant to the mentioned convention. In the case of non-Hague Convention countries, a certification is issued instead of an apostille.
The document or certificate to be apostilled must be original. In the case of public deeds, you must present a certified copy of the deed issued by the notary public with the corresponding stamps canceled.
If so, do they apply to electronically executed documents, and how does this affect the possibility of electronic execution and delivery of aviation documents?
Puerto Rico notaries are still not allowed to issue certifications for electronic signatures of third parties, thus not being able to apostille documents from them. However, note that there is currently legislation pending examination to amend this.
a. Has Puerto Rico implemented the e-Apostille program?
No, it has not.