Dr. Adnan Branbo, Chief
Executive Officer of iJET.
of obtaining crew visas
light and cabin crew play an
essential role in international business aviation.
Therefore allowing them to travel
around the world at short notice with flexible entry and visa requirements is
crucial for the functioning and growth of business aviation.
requirements for crew not only vary from one country to another, but
sometimes from one airport to another in the same country.
To make things even more
complicated, these requirements and regulations also differ
depending on crew nationality, as some countries treat crews from
different countries in different ways. It's therefore essential to
check crew visa requirements in advance of each trip.
In this brief we're going to
highlight the main methods used in dealing with foreign crew visas - allowing
crews, schedulers and dispatchers to ask the right questions, to plan properly,
and to perform their trip successfully.
Most countries allow entry to
foreign crews without a pre-arranged visa, provided the crew are listed in the
General Declaration of the flight (GD), are in crew uniform and are holding
appropriate photo identification (card/badge).
Entry passes based on the GD are
temporary and in most countries are limited to a maximum of 72 hours - although
this can be maximised to 7 or 10 days depending on the country. While
extending the period of this pass is easy in some countries, others can be
complicated, so if the aircraft is planning so stay longer than the entry pass
period, the crew should obtain a visa for that country.
Based on GD, Saudi Arabia gives
crew an entry pass of 24, 48 or 72 hours maximum. They may agree to renew it for
another 72 hours (maximum) at the discretion of Saudi immigration. Overstay will
subject the crew to financial penalties and maybe some harder measures, besides
a possibility of a ban on entering the country in the future.
In many countries however, the
General Declaration is not enough. Iran, India, Russia, China and others,
require a visa prior to arrival.
There are different methods
through which the visa is secured:
- Visa upon Arrival:
Depending on nationality, many countries that impose visas on crew will
issue them upon arrival - on presentation of passport and payment of the
visa fee. Russia allows Visa upon Arrival at certain airports in the Moscow
region only (UUEE, UUWW, UUDD) whilst it is not possible at others.
Russian immigration collects a
fine from crew arriving without a visa though.
- Pre-arranged Visa upon Arrival:
Some countries allow crew to get a Visa upon Arrival provided that passport
copies are sent in advance to the local handler who makes an application to
the immigration authority. The crew will then collect the visa upon arrival
at the airport. Iran follows this method. China also permits crew to secure
visa upon arrival (at ZSSS and ZSPD) provided the crew sends copies of all
their passport pages (even empty ones) in advance to the local handler for
- Visa in Consulate:
In instances where Visa upon Arrival is not possible, the crew must apply to
the appropriate country’s Consulate in their country of citizenship or
country of residence.
- Invitation Letter:
Some consulates won’t accept a crew application without an Invitation Letter (i.e.
from a local company in the intended country). Whilst handlers in Russia and
China can send these letters, it’s not possible for handlers in India to
Crew on commercial flights
Flight and cabin crew may arrive
as passengers on commercial flights to catch their duty flight, or they might
arrive as on-duty crew, then leave the country as commercial passengers.
While the process is easy in some
countries (like UAE) where crew will be cleared through immigration on GD and
use the same GD to depart the country on commercial aircraft, others - like
Saudi Arabia - will hold the passport at Immigration upon arrival. Thus crews
should coordinate with the local handler to get the passport back from the
general aviation terminal before proceeding to the commercial terminal for their
return commercial flights.
Who are the crew?
With regard to the visa
treatment, all flight and cabin crew are considered 'crew' by most nations of
Brazil however has a different
opinion. Cockpit crew - Pilot in Command (PIC) and Second in Command (SIC)
co-pilot - do not need a visa, provided they bring their original/most recent
license and medical certificates with them. The Brazilian Federal Policy
Authority will issue them a special entry pass upon arrival which is valid up to
10 days. Cabin crew, like flight attendants and even flight engineers are not
recognized as 'crew' but passengers, thus they need visa prior to arriving to
Brazil, depending on their nationality.
Other special considerations
Most countries return the crews’
passports immediately after allowing them entry. However, some countries, like
Saudi Arabia, keep them under immigration custody and hand them back upon
departure from the country.
Countries vary as to whether they
stamp the crew passport or not. Some only stamp the GD, whilst others stamp the
In the countries that require
pre-arranged visas - such as India - the crew might be allowed to arrive in the
country without a visa, providing they don’t leave the airport ramp.
Visa regulations change frequently. Therefore having an international trip planning and flight
support provider, with global reach and relationships with immigration
authorities around the world, is essential for aircraft operators and their
crews to pass through immigration smoothly, swiftly and with no hurdles.
Dr. Adnan Branbo
is the Chief Executive Officer of iJET, a flight support service provider based
in Malta and Dubai, with offices and representatives in Russia, India, Turkey,
Turkmenistan and Madagascar. iJET services include over-flight and landing
permits, credit ground handling arrangements, and aviation fuel at competitive
prices. Adnan can be reached at:
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 14th December
2017 | Issue #443