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Need To Convert Your Foreign License? 

Many foreign pilots travel to the U.S.A. to further their flight training, while others whom are already licensed in their home country seek to obtain an FAA license for work purposes. Licensed foreign pilots can follow a process to meet training requirements and obtain their FAA certificates. This process is complex so we created this page to help you understand the process of converting a foreign pilot license to an FAA pilot certificate.

According to 14 CFR 61.75, a foreign pilot who holds a private pilot license can convert their license to an FAA private pilot license. The aircraft ratings held by the foreign license holder will also transfer. This is the only direct conversion permitted without obtaining any additional testing. For example, a foreign (non-FAA) issued commercial pilot license can only be converted to an FAA private pilot License.

Private Pilot License FAA Conversion

First you will need to convert your foreign pilot license to the FAA private pilot license. You will have to have it validated by the FAA. Visit the FAA website to complete the application for verification. The FAA will review your application and contact your governing country to verify that you possess a valid/current pilot license. This process can take anywhere between 45-90 days. When you receive your verification letter then you will have 6 months to visit the U.S.A. and apply for a private pilot certificate with a designated pilot examiner (DPE). 

Once you arrive in the United States, your next step is to locate a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) who will review your paperwork.
You will need:

  • A Completed Airman Certificate Application (FAA Form 8710).

  • Be proficient to speak, read and write English.

  • Hold a current FAA medical certificate (at least 3rd Class).

If your paperwork checks out the DPE will issue you a temporary airman certificate and once you complete a flight review (At least one hour of ground training and one hour of flight training) then you will be able to exercise private pilot privileges in the United States.

Instrument Rating

In order to obtain your FAA Instrument Rating, if you already meet the minimum requirements and you have the foreign equivalent of an FAA instrument rating the process should not be very involved. After passing the FAA knowledge and a practical test (i.e., a checkride) then you can earn your Instrument Rating. The knowledge test can be completed up to 24 months before the practical exam. You must be aware that if you do not meet all the requirements then before you start flight training in the United States U.S.A. you must initiate the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approval process. A flight school can assist you with this process. 

Commercial Pilot & Airline Transport Pilot

Having no direct conversion for foreign commercial and ATP license holders the process to earn these FAA certificates can be confusing.

A foreign pilot must first receive an FAA private pilot certificate through the conversion process as previously mentioned, then obtain the commercial or ATP certificate through traditional training, including obtaining the required aeronautical experience and completing both the knowledge and practical tests. 


Keep in mind that before you start flight training in the U.S.A. you must initiate the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approval process. A flight school can assist you with this process and then begin training toward a commercial pilot certificate. Should you already have a foreign commercial pilot license, the training should be fairly simple and mostly involve review along with preparation for the knowledge and practical tests.

The process can be complicated when converting a foreign pilot license to an FAA certificate. If you follow the necessary steps it can be straightforward if you obtain the assistance of a flight school. Should you only want to convert a private pilot license, it is simply a matter of paperwork a meeting with a DPE. For higher certificates, you need to complete the necessary flight training and knowledge tests, the work that you put in preparing for these will benefit you greatly.

Reminder: Once you obtain a foreign based FAA private pilot certificate, you must maintain both the FAA certificate and the foreign license while exercising your FAA privileges. 

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