Does An N-Number Mean You Have a Registered Aircraft?

Have you always had an interest in planes? If so, you probably know a thing or two about different types of aircraft. Maybe you can tell a plane’s make and model, just by looking at it. Perhaps you can even tell what year an aircraft was built with just a few clues. Those details tell a story about an airplane and what it is used for, and so too does an N-number. Also commonly called a “tail number”, this string of alphanumeric digits serves to identify an aircraft and is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Tail numbers have a long history, dating all the way back to the International Air Navigation Convention of 1919. At that conference, different countries were assigned different letters to denote aircraft call signs. The United States was given the letter “N”, and it is still used to this day.

While tail numbers have been around for more than 100 years, the FAA is a somewhat more recently formed agency–though it has roots dating back quite some time. Founded in 1958, this agency is charged with managing and regulating the skies of the United States. To effectively do this, they need to keep a detailed registry of who and what is in our skies. Every aircraft operating in the United States must be registered with the FAA, and this is done by completing what is called an “AC Form 8050-1 – Aircraft Registration Application”. Read on to learn more about the connection between tail numbers and aircraft registration.

How Do You Get an N-Number?

When you purchase an aircraft, you must complete your AC Form 8050-1 in a prompt manner. This document–which you can fill out on our website–will ask you for your plane’s make, model, and serial number. You will also need to provide your name and address. Once your aircraft registration has been processed, the FAA will assign you a tail number. Your tail number will begin with the letter “N” and be followed by a string of numbers, and sometimes bookended with additional letters. This number serves to show that your aircraft is registered with the FAA.

You can request a custom tail number by submitting a formal request to the FAA’s offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In your request, you should include up to five numbers, in case your first choice is not available. Your aircraft registration–and tail number–will be valid for a duration of three years after issuance. You will be reminded to renew your aircraft registration at six and two months out from your expiration date. In this reminder notice will be a code that you will need to fill in on your renewal application. If you allow your registration to lapse, you could be at risk of losing your tail number, so it is prudent to be diligent with this matter.


Use Our Online Forms

To get your aircraft registration–and tail number–you can use our streamlined web forms. We make it easy to complete and process your Form AC 8050-1 online. To learn more, take a minute to explore our site, or visit our helpful Frequently Asked Questions page today.