Introduction of Electronic Aircraft Registration Procedure

Duarte Vasconcelos.

25/07/2007 International Law Office

Spain has a relatively complex double registration system for aircraft. Aircraft are initially registered with the Administrative Registry, which is part of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, and then with the Movable Property Registry, in which titles and encumbrances on aircraft are registered with erga omnes effect (ie, offering protection to third parties). The initial registration with the Administrative Registry gives Spanish nationality to the aircraft.

Order FOM/660/2006 established the general criteria for the electronic processing of certain documents by the Ministry of Development. The order allows for the receipt and issuance of requests, documents and other communications in relation to:

  • decisions on administrative appeals issued by any of the bodies of the Ministry of Development;

  • initial claims (before the commencement of civil proceedings) against the state administration as a result of the ministry's activities; and

  • proceedings to review acts performed by administrative bodies of the ministry.

Introduction of Electronic Procedure

The Resolution of June 5 2007 of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Development, which was published in the Official Gazette on June 20 2007, introduced the possibility of processing certain aircraft registration matters electronically at the Administrative Registry. The official forms to file electronic requests, documents and communications are available at

Applicants must have an electronic signature in order to protect the content of the communications and the identity of the senders and recipients, among other things. The online registry will be available 24 hours a day, except on national public holidays (excluding local and regional holidays). Any message received on a bank holiday will be deemed to have been received on the next business day.

The electronic registry will automatically issue a record evidencing the document, request or communication filed, including:

  • the information provided by the applicant;

  • the date and time of submission; and

  • a code identifying the transmission.


The introduction of the electronic procedure in the Administrative Registry is to be welcomed by market participants. However, certain practical issues are yet to be resolved (eg, the language used). For the time being, the website is in Spanish only and communications must be made in Spanish, which does not take into account the following elements:

  • The aviation market is international;

  • The authorities deal with bills of sale which are drafted in English on a daily basis; and

  • It is normal practice to file originals in English (together with a sworn translation into Spanish).

It is hoped that changes will be gradually introduced to make up for the shortfalls in the system.

The electronic registration procedure should reduce the time necessary to register a transaction. At present, applicants must travel from one registry to the other (ie, first the Administrative Registry and then the Movable Property Registry).

Whether the system succeeds in practice remains to be seen. The use of the Internet and electronic technologies should be extended to facilitate communication between the two registries. For the time being, although the two registries must synchronize under Spanish law, the effectiveness of this coordination is limited.