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How do I add another owner to my aircraft registration?
AOPA's Pilot Information Center gets this type of call on a regular basis. An owner wants to bring on a co-owner, a father wants to add his son, a mother wants to add her daughter, and so on. 

Unfortunately, one cannot just 'add' another person to an aircraft registration. The aircraft must be sold from the current owner to the current owner, and to the new owner. Fortunately, the process is fairly simple: The registered owner drafts a bill of sale (FAA form 8050-2) with his/her name as the seller; he or she is also listed as a purchaser and the new party is listed as a purchaser. A registration application (FAA form 8050-1) is then drafted listing both as co-owners. Both documents are then sent to FAA Aircraft Registry, along with the $5 recording fee.

It is also important to remember that FAA does not recognize joint tenancy, tenants in common, or other similar entities. Many states allow property to pass to the surviving owner upon the death of one or the other. FAA does not allow this with aircraft. All co-owners need to plan as to who will sign, on their behalf, when they die in order to properly transfer their ownership interest. Items 33 through 37 on this document can assist in making this decision:

As always, the Pilot Information Center stands ready to assist. You can reach us at 800-872-2672 or
2 Replies
1218 Posts
While the only Federal fee for this is $5, there may be state tax implications even though the transfer is within the family.  You may have to pay a substantial sales tax or other transfer tax to the state -- in Maryland, it's 5%.  You'll need to check with someone who knows aviation and your state's tax laws.  States monitor the FAA registration lists, and flag any transfer to an address in their state, so you can't hide it from the state.  And you can't get around this by selling it for "$1 and other valuable considerations" or other means to make it appear the plane sold for far less than it's really worth.  The state can appraise the plane for market value, and base your tax on that value, and then you have to pay the full tax on that appraised value, or prove that it's worth substantially less (not easy).  If you're an AOPA Legal Services Plan member, you can get a consultation with an appropriately knowledgeable attorney to help decide how to handle this.
26 Posts
One thing to consider in this situation might be to: 1) Create and LLC in your state; 2) Make sure the articles of incorporation (or equivalent) states all owners of the LLC's assets and the percentage each owns; 3) "Sell" the aircraft to the LLC.  There are pros and cons with this approach, and this list is not all-inclusive.  These pros and cons are likely to vary by state.

Pros:  Each member's personal assets are protected from aircraft liability incidents, but only when the OTHER guy is operating it.  Please remember that the LLC member who is operating the airplane (or gave permission for someone else to) takes personal responsibility for these operations. 
Cons:  Some states might have significant annual fees for an LLC (couple hundred per year), and of course, you will not be able to avoid paying state sales taxes on the sale when you transfer it into an LLC (the state will say an LLC is a type of business).

Bottom line:  If you are sole owner operator, just register it in your name, an LLC doesn't help shield your other assets from liability.  If you are sharing ownership and operations, be sure to create an LLC, it protects each of you when the other is operating the plane.

BTW - There is another document you should consider in this arrangement, and that is an "Ownership Agreement" which outlines how each party uses and pays their "fair share" of all expenses.

Disclaimer:  I'm not an attorney, the above is my personal interpretation of my experiences in having aircraft registered in both manners in the State of CO.