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U.S. Citizens Seeking Flight Training

AOPA has compiled easy to understand information concerning TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program.  Below you will find information pertaining to U.S. citizens who wish to begin training for a pilot certificate and answers to frequently asked questions.  Information on this page applies to U.S. citizens who wish to conduct flight training in an aircraft weighing less than 12,500 lbs.

Applicability and Proof of citizenship/citizenship verification

Before a U.S. citizen can begin flight training toward an initial FAA pilot certificate, recreational, sport pilot, or private pilot certificate; instrument rating; or multiengine rating, a CFI must verify citizenship. 

  • Determine applicability. The requirements for determining citizenship status for any student, whether U.S. or alien, applies only to flight training towards an initial FAA pilot certificate, including a recreational pilot, sport pilot, or private pilot certificate; instrument rating; or multiengine rating.
  • Proof of citizenship. Student must show evidence of U.S. citizenship to instructor with one of the following:
    • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport
    • Original or government-issued birth certificate of the U.S., American Samoa, or Swains Island AND a government-issued picture ID
    • Original certificate of birth abroad with raised seal (Form FS-545 or DS-1350) AND a government-issued picture ID
    • Original certificate of U.S. citizenship with raised seal (Form N-560 or N-561) or a Certificate of Repatriation (Form N-581) AND government-issued pictured ID
    • Original U.S. Naturalization Certificate with raised seal (Form N-550 or N-570) AND a government-issued picture ID
  • Logbook or record-keeping requirements. An instructor must do one of the following:
    • Keep a copy of the documents used to provide proof of citizenship for five years
    • Make an endorsement in the instructor’s logbook or other record used by the instructor to record flight student endorsements AND the student’s logbook with the following:
    • "I certify that [insert student's name] has presented me a [insert type of document presented, such as a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport, and the relevant control or sequential number on the document, if any] establishing that [he or she] is a U.S. citizen or national in accordance with 49 CFR 1552.3(h). [Insert date and instructor's signature and CFI number.]"
    • Students who change flight schools and/or locations will be required to prove citizenship and receive a logbook endorsement. Recurring logbook endorsements are required when students change flight schools or instructors (if the instructor did not know the student when the student received the initial logbook endorsement).

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do I need to show my birth certificate to a CFI for a flight review or IPC?

    No you do not.  Flight reviews and instrument proficiency checks do not fall under the TSA definition of flight training.  TSA has also interpreted the definition of recurrent training to “not include any flight review, proficiency check, or other check to review rules, maneuvers, or procedures, or to demonstrate a pilot’s existing skills on aircraft with a MTOW of 12,500 pounds or less”.

    It is my understanding that the logbook endorsement requirement for U.S. citizens should be done anytime an instructor/flight school is presented with a new student who received a logbook endorsement from a different school and/or location. But for students who remain at one flight school throughout their training, and are known by all the instructors, a recurring endorsement is not necessary. Is this correct?

    Yes, this is a correct interpretation. Think of the endorsement as a replacement of the copy of the proof of citizenship. If you had a copy of my birth certificate from private training, and now I want to do an instrument rating, no need to run a new Xerox copy just because I'm doing a new rating.