Posted 5 years 156 days ago ago by Randy Rowles
To provide a path for a pilot holding a pilot certificate from another country to operate a U.S. registered aircraft, the FAA publishes Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 61.75. Within this FAR, a pilot can apply for and be issued a private pilot (PPL) certificate from the FAA, based upon their foreign pilot certificate. To receive this certification, no additional testing is required as long as the foreign pilot certificate is valid and the applicant meets minimum English speaking requirements of ICAO Level 4 proficiency.
In many cases, foreign pilots will use a 61.75 PPL to meet eligibility requirements for higher FAA certificates and/or ratings, such as the commercial pilot certificate. It is not uncommon for a foreign pilot to add several category/class and ratings to a 61.75 PPL. Although the FAA permits this, there is a misunderstanding within flight schools on when a 61.75 PPL can be used for additional certification. This can a be a costly issue to a student that has completed a flight training program, only to find that their 61.75 PPL is not valid to apply for any additional FAA certification.
When a foreign pilot applies for a 61.75 PPL, they will complete FAA Form 8060-71: Verification of Authenticity of Foreign License, Rating, and Medical Certification. Once this form is submitted to the FAA, it usually takes about four to six weeks to complete. The speed of this process is directly affected by the response time of the foreign pilot regulatory agency. Once the verification is completed, the FAA will issue a letter to the foreign pilot applicant that will contain all foreign pilot certificates held by the applicant, both current and expired. This letter would be presented to an FAA representative to facilitate the issuance of a 61.75 PPL.
Many flight schools believe that once the foreign pilot certificate is verified and the letter is received, no further verification is required. However, this would be incorrect. The FAA verification letter is only valid for a period of six months. Why is this important? If a person holding a 61.75 PPL that was issued more than six months prior wants to apply for an additional FAA certificate and/or rating…this certificate is not valid for application. To be eligible to use their previously issued 61.75 PPL, the foreign pilot certificate must be verified again by reapplying to the FAA for verification of their foreign pilot certificate.
It is important to note that whenever the 61.75 PPL or a foreign pilot certificate is being used as eligibility toward the issuance of an FAA pilot certificate, the applicant must have a valid foreign pilot verification letter prior to making application. This includes application for an FAA airline transport pilot certificate when applying without holding an FAA pilot certificate. In this case, the applicant’s foreign pilot certificate is being utilized to meet eligibility requirements, and must be verified by the FAA with a verification letter received before making application to the FAA.
It’s a pretty simple process: If you’re using a foreign pilot certificate, even if the FAA has already issued a 61.75 PPL for that foreign pilot certificate, the applicant must have a current verification letter to apply for any additional FAA certificates and/or ratings. Too many applicants are finding this out on checkride day and it’s not an easy fix. If you forget to verify a foreign pilot certificate, you’ve just added weeks, or even months, to the foreign pilot applicant’s visit to the good ol’ USA.
About Randy: Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20
years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold
Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor
designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of
the Year Award. Randy is currently Director of Training at Epic
Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.