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U.S. Citizens Seeking Flight Training

AOPA has compiled easy to understand information concerning TSA’s Flight Training Security Program (FTSP).  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:

    U.S. Citizens and Nationals are exempt from the AFSP requirement to undergo a TSA security threat assessment. Flight students must provide the flight training provider with one of the following options as proof of U.S. citizenship:
    • Unexpired U.S. Passport (book or card)
    • Unexpired Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
    • Unexpired Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Card - designates U.S. citizenship if indicated on the document
    • Unexpired NEXUS Card - designates U.S. citizenship if indicated on the document
    • Unexpired Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) Card - designates U.S. citizenship if indicated on the document
    • Unexpired Global Entry Card - designates U.S. citizenship if indicated on the document
    • Unexpired U.S. Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) or Unexpired Enhanced Identification Card (EID) - designates U.S. citizenship if indicated on the document

      Or, at least two documents are required if a U.S. citizen or national does not have a document from the previous list. Qualifying documents are shown in the lists below:

      List A – One of these

      AND

      List B – One of these

      Valid Proof of U.S. Citizenship

      Valid Photo Identification

      • U.S. Birth Certificate
      • U.S. Certificate of Citizenship
        (N-560 or N-561)
      • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
        (N-550 or N-570)
      • U.S. Citizen Identification Card
        (I-179 or I-197)
      • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
        (FS-240)
      • Certification of Report of Birth Abroad
        (DS-1350 or FS-545)

      Expired U.S. passport within 12 months of expiration**

      • Unexpired CDL/driver’s license issued by a State or outlying possession of the United States.
      • Unexpired temporary CDL/driver’s license plus expired driver’s license (constitutes one document)
      • Unexpired photo ID card issued by the federal government or by a State or outlying possession of the United States. This must include a federal agency or a State or State agency seal or logo (such as a State university ID). Permits are not considered valid identity documents (such as gun permits).
      • Unexpired U.S. military ID card
      • Unexpired U.S. retired military ID card
      • Unexpired U.S. military dependent’s card
      • Native American tribal document with photo
      • Unexpired Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/ Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)
      • Unexpired Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC)

      Expired U.S. passport within 12 months of expiration**

      ** TSA will not accept an expired U.S. passport unless presented with at least one other document from List A or List B.

  • 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.