Contributor: gbf Attorneys-at-law Ltd
Author: Marco Novoselac and Philippe Wenker
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in Switzerland? Does Switzerland use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
The Swiss Federal Act on Electronic Signatures (ZertES) governs the legal framework for electronic signatures, the use of digital signatures, providers of digital signatures as well as rights and obligations. In particular, this act sets out the requirements for electronic signatures to be considered equivalent to handwritten signatures as set forth by the Swiss Code of Obligations. The electronic signature regulated by the ZertES is a technical procedure for guaranteeing the integrity of a document and the identity of the signatory. It is based on an infrastructure managed by certified service providers.
However, the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) administration the Swiss aircraft registry (being the Swiss aeronautical registry) and the Swiss aircraft record (which is a separate registry, where rights in aircraft (such as ownership, mortgages and leases are recorded)) has not issued regulations governing the use of electronic documents.
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
Not applicable (see question 1 above).
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in Switzerland? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in Switzerland?
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in Switzerland?
Under Swiss law, a handwritten signature is only required in specific cases (such as, for example, the assignment of rights) but is often contractually reserved. In such cases, besides handwritten signatures, the qualified electronic signature (QES), according to the ZertES, fulfills the formal requirements. In cases where the written form is solely reserved by contract, the parties can always mutually adjust the contractual written form requirement according to their needs, for example, by incorporating the exchange of emails or using signature forms common in the market but not designed as QES under Swiss law (such as Adobe’s basic signatures or DocuSign). Note that Adobe’s basic signatures or DocuSign do not (yet) qualify as QES.
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of Switzerland?
Yes, that is possible. However, certain legally accepted providers or platforms must be used. Further, a submission must be electronically signed in accordance with the requirements of the ZertES.
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in Switzerland? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of Switzerland (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Yes, see the answer to question 6. As far as the distinction between official and private signatures is concerned, please see our answer to question 5 above.
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
Please see the answer to question 5 above.
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of Switzerland made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
Not applicable (see question 1 above).
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in Switzerland (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
11. Does the civil aviation authority in Switzerland authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has Switzerland entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
a. Has Switzerland implemented the e-Apostille program?
There are Notary or Apostille requirements in Switzerland for certain transactions (such as with real estate). Switzerland has not implemented the e-Apostille program.