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FAA Letter of Verification: What, Why, and How

Posted on: 10/09/2023

What is the FAA Letter of Verification?

The FAA Letter of Verification is an official document issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that verifies the validity and authenticity of a foreign pilot’s license. This letter serves as a bridge between the pilot’s home country’s aviation authority and the FAA, ensuring that the foreign pilot’s credentials are recognized and accepted by the FAA.

Why Do You Need It?

If you’re a foreign pilot looking to fly in the U.S. or seeking to obtain an FAA certificate based on your foreign license, the Letter of Verification is a mandatory requirement. It acts as a testament to your qualifications and ensures that your training and experience align with FAA standards. Without this letter, the FAA cannot validate your foreign pilot credentials, making it impossible to convert or utilize your foreign license in the U.S.
For instance, according to Part 61.153, a foreign pilot can obtain an FAA ATP license if they possess an ICAO CPL or ATPL License issued by another country. But how can the FAA verify its authenticity? While you can present your license, there’s no immediate way for the FAA to determine its validity, authenticity, or expiration status. To address this, the FAA uses official channels to communicate with the respective government organizations. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the issuing country then provides the FAA with an official confirmation, ensuring that the license was genuinely issued, remains valid, hasn’t expired, and clarifies the privileges associated with it.
Important to note: A Letter of Verification is NOT required for the ATP-CTP course or for the Written test.

Step-by-Step Guidance to Obtain the FAA Letter of Verification Using IACRA:

  1. Gather Necessary Documents: Before starting the process, ensure you have:
    • A valid foreign pilot license.
    • A current medical certificate from your country.
    • English proficiency endorsement, if applicable.
  2. Register on IACRA: If you haven’t already, create an account on the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) portal. This is the FAA’s official online portal for pilot and other airman applications.
  3. Complete FAA Form 8060-71 on IACRA: Once logged in, locate and fill out the form titled “Verification of Authenticity of Foreign License, Rating, and Medical Certification.” Ensure all details match your foreign pilot license.
  4. Upload Necessary Documents: Using the IACRA portal, upload scanned copies of your foreign pilot license, medical certificate, and English proficiency endorsement (if applicable).
  5. Submit the Application: After ensuring all details are accurate and all documents are uploaded, submit your application through IACRA.
  6. Wait for Verification: The FAA will contact the aviation authority of your home country to verify the details you’ve provided. This process can take anywhere from 45 to 90 days, so it’s crucial to plan ahead.
  7. Receive the Letter: Once the FAA has verified your credentials, they will mail the Letter of Verification to the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) you specified in the form. This letter is valid for six months from the date of issue.
  8. Schedule an Appointment: After receiving the letter, schedule an appointment with the specified FSDO to present your original documents and proceed with any further actions, such as converting your license or obtaining an FAA certificate.

Special Procedure for First Officers and Second in Command without PIC Ratings:

For foreign pilots who exercise the privileges of a First Officer or Second in Command and do not have any other ratings where they are designated as a Pilot in Command (PIC) in their ICAO license, the standard FAA Letter of Verification process does not apply. The FAA cannot issue a Letter of Verification for these pilots based on the absence of a PIC rating in their ICAO license.

In such cases, a distinct procedure is followed. This special procedure is designed to accommodate pilots who might not have a PIC rating but have significant experience and qualifications as a First Officer or Second in Command. If you fall into this category, it’s essential to be aware of this procedure and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to validate your foreign license with the FAA.

 

Guide for Foreign Pilots Without PIC Rating Seeking U.S. Certification:

  1. Prepare Your Logbook: Ensure your logbook is up-to-date, properly filled out, and all entries are signed appropriately.
  2. Determine Eligibility: Before starting the process, ensure you meet the FAA’s requirements for foreign pilots. This typically involves having a valid foreign pilot license and meeting medical standards.
  3. Enroll in an FAA-Recognized Flight School:
  4. Obtain the Necessary Visa (if required):
  5. Begin Reduced Flight Training for PPL:
  6. Pass the FAA Checkride for PPL:
    • After meeting the training requirements, schedule and complete the FAA checkride to obtain your FAA PPL.
  7. Proceed to Reduced Instrument Rating Training:
  8. Pass the FAA Checkride for Instrument Rating:
    • After completing the training, schedule and pass the FAA checkride for the Instrument Rating.
  9. Begin Reduced Commercial Pilot License Training:
  10. Pass the FAA Checkride for CPL:
    • Once you’ve met all requirements, schedule and pass the FAA checkride to obtain your CPL.
  11. Stay Updated:
  • Regularly renew or revalidate your ratings and licenses as required by the FAA.

This guide offers a straightforward pathway for foreign pilots without a PIC rating to obtain their PPL, Instrument Rating, and CPL in the U.S. using reduced programs. Always consult with your chosen flight school for specific details and requirements.

Expiration of the Letter of Verification:

It’s crucial to note that the Letter of Verification has an expiration date. Typically, it remains valid for six months from the date of issuance. This means that once you receive your Letter of Verification, you have a six-month window to utilize it for your FAA certification process. After this period, the letter will no longer be valid, and you would need to request a new one if you haven’t completed the necessary FAA procedures within that timeframe.

Example of a Real Letter of Verification:

To give you a clearer understanding of what to expect, you can view an example of an actual Letter of Verification here. This will provide you with an insight into the format, content, and details presented in the letter, ensuring you’re well-prepared when you receive yours.

Conclusion

The FAA Letter of Verification is a crucial document for foreign pilots aiming to fly within the U.S. or convert their licenses. While the process might seem lengthy, it’s a necessary step to ensure the safety and standardization of pilots operating in U.S. airspace. By following the steps outlined above and planning ahead, you can navigate this process smoothly and achieve your aviation goals in the U.S.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to email or call us.

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