Why choose to register an aircraft in the Isle of Man?

2 May 2017 , 12:00pm

The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry was created in May 2007 and it is specifically aimed at private and corporate business jets and helicopters. The Registry has proven to be an unqualified success, having registered over 900 aircraft since its inception. It is the world’s leading and largest offshore bizjet register and the 6th largest overall in the world (after the US, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Germany). This success and the esteem that it is held in within the industry resulted in it being previously awarded the accolade of ‘Best Aircraft Registry’ by Corporate Jet Investor.

About the Isle of Man 

The Isle of Man is one of the most politically and economically stable jurisdictions in the world. It is not part of the United Kingdom but conveniently lies within the British Isles. The Island is politically and constitutionally separate from the UK. It has its own political system and its own Parliament (Tynwald), which is independent and is the oldest continuous parliament in the world with over 1,000 years of unbroken parliamentary rule. Tynwald is responsible for setting the Island’s laws including matters of taxation. The Island has one of the highest credit ratings of any offshore financial centre and has never entered recession. The Island has benefitted from year on year economic growth. The Isle of Man is on the OECD ‘white list’ and is one of the few countries in the world to be awarded the top “Compliant” rating for transparency by the OECD’s Global Forum.

Neutrality of the 'M' registration mark 

An aircraft registered in the Isle of Man will bear the nationality mark 'M' followed by four characters. The neutrality of the prefix is a unique selling point as 'M' registered aircraft have the ability to fly worldwide without restraint due to the independence of the Isle of Man Aircraft Register and it not being classified as a flag of convenience. It is also beneficial to aircraft being operated in unstable regions of the world.

The 'M' prefix followed by the four characters has enabled registered owners to be inventive and personalise their aircraft’s registration with some highlights being, M-YJET, M-YTOY, M-YWAY, M-IDAS AND M-YBBJ. Personal registrations may also be transferred to the owner’s next aircraft.

The neutrality and esteem that the M registration has in the industry can also have a positive effect on the value of the aircraft registered on it. Indeed, an industry leader has recently commented:

I think one of the most important things is that an M registration doesn’t devalue the aircraft. If you choose a register which is well-respected then that proves to be a good decision. If you put it on some of the shadier registers that we have experienced, you will try to sell it and people are going to be completely uninterested.”

Advantages of the Isle of Man registry 

The Registry is operated by the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Economic Development which provides a top quality, cost effective and highly efficient service together with access to senior decision makers who are readily available and happy to answer any queries. The world class level of customer service provided by the registry staff coupled with their willingness to be flexible and readily available outside of normal working hours or during weekends to ensure that registrations are processed efficiently and expeditiously is a key feature in our success. The Government’s significant investment into a new online registration system that will result in a more streamlined registration process is a clear indicator that it is committed to ensuring that the Registry and its workings remain industry leaders and at the ‘top of their game’. The speed, efficiency and professionalism of the Registry and its staff are recognised throughout the industry, with an industry leader recently quoted as saying:-

When you want something done quickly you pick up the phone and it gets done… in terms of just getting things done, if you want an approval, it is very quick and very efficient.”

Registration of mortgages 

The Register permits the registration of mortgages over aircraft on a secure mortgage register and institutions or individuals funding the acquisition of an aircraft on the Register can be reassured by the system of mortgage registration and priority which mirrors the English system coupled with the extremely competitive pricing structure.

Unlike many other jurisdictions, the Registry permits the registration of mortgages outside of office hours.

Aircraft crew, licences and maintenance – flexibility 

The Island adopts a pragmatic approach to regulation and licensing whilst maintaining the highest international standards. Generally, the Registry will accept aircraft, crew licences and maintenance programmes/operators that comply with reputable international standards. This leads to significant cost savings for owners choosing the Isle of Man over other less flexible jurisdictions.

Key advantages of the Isle of Man

High Regulatory Standards

The Isle of Man is one of the world’s most sophisticated and well regulated offshore financial centres. By 2016, the Isle of Man had signed agreements with 47 countries that meet the OECD international standard on tax cooperation and transparency. It has also signed inter-governmental agreements with the United States in relation to FATCA and the UK in relation to a FATCA style agreement regarding automatic exchange of information, being the first Crown Dependency to signal its intention to do so.

Favourable tax regime

Isle of Man companies benefit from a corporate tax rate of 0% (a tax strategy which is compliant with the EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation). There are no capital or wealth taxes on the Isle of Man. The Island is treated as part of the European Union for VAT and customs duty purposes and Isle of Man companies can be part of United Kingdom VAT groups. Aircraft can be imported via the Isle of Man and make use of our VAT regime for aircraft owning structures. The Isle of Man offers a full range of corporate structures to suit a company’s or individual’s requirements for owning an aircraft. The New Manx Vehicle (NMV), introduced in 2006, is a flexible corporate vehicle that is easy to administer and has proven attractive to international business clients. Furthermore, there is no insurance premium tax (as opposed to the 6% rate in the UK).

Registration of commerical airliners which are parked of between leases 

When airliners are not being operated commercially by an airline they are private aircraft and can take advantage of the Registry’s quick, efficient and cost-effective service. Benefits to banks and leasing companies include:

  • quick and efficient global registration service providing minimum down-time between leases, or a safe international register for parked aircraft;

  • competitive scheme of charges;

  • no minimum time on the aircraft register;

  • any EASA Part 145 maintenance organisation with the appropriate approvals can conduct work on Isle of Man registered aircraft;

  • aircraft can be approved for RVSM, MNPS and RNAV at the time of registration. Operation manuals are included with the approvals;

  • airline experienced Isle of Man authorised Surveyors are based in the US, Switzerland, Ireland, UK and the Isle of Man, saving time and travel costs;

  • accounts are opened for Banks and Leasing Companies when registration applications are received and charges are invoiced on completion of the registration process; and

  • as set out above, the Isle of Man is part of the European VAT and Customs regime and is a quick and efficient place to import aircraft into Europe if necessary.

Conclusion

The 'can do', pragmatic and business friendly philosophy of the Isle of Man Aircraft Registry and the Isle of Man Government generally, coupled with world class professional services make the Isle of Man a compelling choice for anyone looking to register a bizjet or helicopter. With many new offshore registries now entering the market they all seem intent on copying the Isle of Man’s winning formula. Despite others seeking to mirror what the Isle of Man is doing we expect to build on our great success to date and remain the offshore registry of choice. The Registry’s customer focus and its ‘safety with service ethos’ makes it an easy sell for Isle of Man based industry specialists.

About DQ Advocates 

DQ Advocates is a full service law firm that provides Isle of Man and British Virgin Islands’ legal advice. Our lawyers have significant experience of aviation transactions, acting for global commercial airlines and, with the establishment of the Registry, corporate and private owners of jets and helicopters, finance companies and aircraft operators.