Custom Aircraft Tail Number
You can reserve a custom aircraft tail number, or N-number, just like
you can reserve a personalized automobile license
plate. You don’t have to wait until you are ready
to actually register, you can reserve the N-number right now.
I reserved mine three years before I was complete. That way,
I knew I would get the number I wanted. Here's how.
Not in the US?
Do you know where to find information on custom tail numbers in
countries other than the US? If so, please contact me
and I'll post the links here.
Make a List of
Make a list of the five or more custom tail
numbers you would want. In a moment I'll describe how to see
which numbers are available, and then you will need to turn five
numbers in. If some of your first choices are not available,
add some more and check them out, until you have a good list of five
How to Properly
Form an N-Number
N-Numbers consist of a series of alphanumeric
registration numbers may not exceed five characters in addition to the
standard U.S. registration prefix letter N. These characters may be:
- One to five numbers (N12345)
- One to four numbers followed by one
- One to three numbers followed by two
- An N-Number may not begin with zero.
You must precede the first zero in an N-Number with any number 1
through 9. For example, N01Z is not valid.
- Registration numbers N1 through N99 are
strictly reserved for FAA internal use.
- To avoid confusion with the numbers one and
zero, the letters I and O
are not to be used.
Once you have a list of at least five N-numbers,
go to the FAA
registry to check availability. Here you
type in the number range you are interested in, and any trailing
characters you want to use. The search will return all
available numbers that meet your search criteria. For
example, if you want to use “N456AB”, you can type 450 in the starting
range, 460 in the ending range and AB in the trailing characters
fields. If the search returns “456AB”, it is available for
If one of the numbers on your list is not
available, scratch it off your list. If your list has less
than five numbers, create some more and repeat this availability check
until you have at least five. If you have more than five
available numbers, keep your favorite five.
Apply For Your Custom Aircraft Tail Number
FAA's N-number reservation page
and follow the directions,
loading in your five N-numbers, in your order of preference.
You insert your top five N-numbers in order on the right side of the
screen, then continue on and pay the $10 fee. You will have
to wait for a letter from the FAA telling you which of the five
N-numbers you got. If you think it has taken too long, you
can always call the Aircraft Registration Branch of the FAA at
The way I understood things, if you have done the research, and the
five numbers you listed are all available, the only way you won’t get
your top choice is if, in the short time between you checking
availability and processing the application, someone beats you to it.
You will have to renew the reservation every year. The FAA
will send you a letter and renewal form, or you can do it on line at
their N-Number renewal page.
It will cost another $10 each year.
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