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22 March 2009


Hi Tug

Most of the larger airfields have customs but many need 24 hours notice by fax or email prior to arrival.

When I am flying from England to France, I personally prefer to land at one of the French coastal airports (Le Touquet, Dinard, etc) as they are so used to having people arriving on a daily basis from Britain.

It is simple and quick if you file your flight plan to one of these airports. The fuel is cheaper too!

If you look at the French airport plates you will find all the details regarding customs in English on the information part of the page.

I regret that I do not know the Italian rules but I would imagine that you can file your flight plan in France and clear customs at any large Italian airport.

However, I am only guessing at that.

I used to fly regularly from England to Le Touquet without prior notice but I noticed last year that they now require at least 2 hours advanced warning though there was no Police/Customs presence when I arrived and later departed.

Inland 'customs' Airfields like Abbeville or Rouen tend to require longer notice periods.

See airfield charts for detailed requirements.

UK to France: A properly filed flight plan is *required* 30mins prior to take-off. That *no* customs/immigration requirements apply on *departure* from the UK from *any* airfield (even private ones) as long as everybody on board is a EU citizen. That entry to France from outside Schengen (sp?) countries (i.e. from the UK too) must be at a designated airport and many of these require 24 hrs notice. However my understanding is that Le Touquet does *not* require *any* notice for private flights (of EU citizens?) Having said that: All (4 or 5) of my Channel crossings have been Lydd to Le Touquet. I have always filled in the online form available on the Le Touquet airport web site notifying my arrival. I have always filled in the UK Customs/Immigration form in the Lydd pilots' briefing room (why not?) and handed it to the lovely young ladies at reception. And I have always taken advantage of the duty free fuel at Lydd. Only 77p/liter [20 May 2009].

France to UK: File a flight plan - compulsory. Arrival in the UK can be anywhere given enough notice to the correct authorities but Lydd is a designated airport requiring zero notice. At Lydd I fill in the customs/immigration form but I do not think you're obliged to (I could be wrong!). I haven't worked out how to get duty free fuel in France for the return journey.

I am frustrated that I know of no AUTHORITATIVE web page which clearly lays out all the rules for inter-European flights. Many web pages exist but they contradict one another and they often contain advice I KNOW to be wrong - it's not always that they're out of date: they often never were correct! Please advise if you know where good up to date info is held altogther!

And any of the above advice is quite possibly wrong too!

France to Italy: As both are Schengen (sp?) countries customs clearance cannot be required. However, the default position is that a flight plan is required as an international FIR boundary is being crossed. [This does not always apply - the Germans are more relaxed about this and the Italians may be also but the French are NOT: Flight plan required both directions.] But that is customs only! There may or may not be other requirements such as notice being given, designated airports being used, etc etc. When you find the definitive source of this information please post back here!

Quite inspiring,

Keep up the good work

Anyway, thanks for the post

Im told there is a list of permitted arrival airports for a GA flight from the UK to France; does anyone know where?
In particular can I go straight to Granville LFRF, or would I have to go to Dinard LFRD first? And on departure, can I leave directly from Granville?

Hi Harvey

I think that there may be some confusion between the requirement to 'report' when crossing the French FIR border and the issue of customs/police clearance when arriving at an actual airfield.

As I understand it, you can arrive/depart at any airfield with the appropriate customs/police cover and this is a separate issue from reporting entry into French airspace.

The 'French Air Traffic Rules' link on the sidebar is the place to find precise information on both matters.

Hi Harvey - me again

I looked up the relevant publications and see that you can fly direct to Granvill who have customs/police cover, by arrangment.

Relevant details on the airfield chart at https://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/aip/enligne/PDF_AIPparSSection/VAC/AD/2/1004_AD-2.LFRF.pdf

Guidance on reporting entry to French Aisspace is contained from Page 70 of this publication https://www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/dossier/texteregle/Guide%20VFR%20Mars%202009%2007.pdf

Bascially, you report to the Flight Information Service (FIS) covering the relevant crossing point or, failing that, to one of the listed ‘border’ airfields in the general area.

FIS Frequencies are on the relevant maps.

Although the French have been known to get stroppy with pilots who don’t observe the entry/exit rules, the flying environment is quite relaxed with excellent English-language Flight Information Services and good low-level radar coverage.

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