aircraft tail numbers

Getting Your Aircraft Tail Numbers and Properly Displaying Them

When it comes to civil aviation, the aircraft tail numbers will serve as the identifying number in relation to all the paperwork and documentation associated with the airplane in question. However, this is more than just the arbitrary number painted on the side of the plane. It’s actually a lot more than that. 

What is an Airplane N-Number?

When it comes to United States aircraft registration, the Federal Aviation administration gives each registered aircraft a specific identifying number, each starting with the prefix letter “N”(the international denomination for American aircraft). This is why these are commonly referred to as N-numbers. You will receive one for your aircraft upon completing the initial registration process, which will be your airplane tail number. Once you have it, you will have to display it on the tail of the aircraft in order to visibly identify it, which will come with specific requirements. This is when these will also be known as aircraft tail numbers.

How to Display Aircraft Tail Numbers

As delineated in the aeronautics and space section of the Code of Federal Regulations, “Each operator of an aircraft must display on that aircraft marks consisting of the Roman capital letter “N” (denoting United States registration) followed by the registration number of the aircraft. Each suffix letter used in the marks displayed must also be a Roman capital letter.” On top of that, “when marks include only the Roman capital letter “N” and the registration number is displayed on limited, restricted or light-sport category aircraft or experimental or provisionally certificated aircraft, the operator must also display on that aircraft near each entrance to the cabin, cockpit, or pilot station, in letters not less than 2 inches nor more than 6 inches high, the words “limited,” “restricted,” “light-sport,” “experimental,” or “provisional,” as applicable.”

The Specifics

When it comes to fixed-wing aircraft, the owner will have to display the aircraft tail numbers on either of the vertical tail surfaces or (when necessary) on the sides of the fuselage. The marks on the vertical tail surfaces must be displayed horizontally on both surfaces of a single vertical tail or on the outer surfaces of a multi vertical tail. These must be at least 12 inches high, with a few exceptions. An airplane that displays marks at least 2 inches high before November 1, 1981 and an aircraft manufactured after November 2, 1981, but before January 1, 1983, may display those marks until the aircraft is repainted or the marks are repainted, restored, or changed. 

Receive Your N-Number

In order to receive your aircraft tail number, you will first need to get your registration in order. Now, your aircraft registration is a very important document to keep in mind at all times in order to make sure that you are flying in order. If you need to get an n-number for your aircraft, sending the registration form through our website is easier than ever. And, should you need any help filling out or submitting the forms, you can just give us a call at 1-800-357-0893 or email us at You can always rely on our team here at the National Aviation Center to help you take care of your civil aircraft register forms.