Yes, it really is as bad as you have heard, and yes, you will need to request an extension if you recently sent in registration documents or plan to do so in the near future.
As of today, the Registry is processing applications received on March 21, 2022. That is just about a week short of 6 months. You can check their processing date at any time on this web page -
Accordingly, a newly filed application for registration (FAA form 8050-1) allows you to fly for 90 days. This was fine when the Registry was 60 days behind, but it is not enough time now.
The AOPA PIC has been reminding new owners for many months now that they will have to request an extension as they near the 90 day point. An extension request is made via an email contact form on this page -
Please contact the PIC if you have any aircraft registration questions. 800-872-2672, option 1, then 2. M-F 830 am - 6 pm.
It's not every day that good news comes from FAA, but there is some recently regarding aircraft registrations -
Effective January 23, 2023, all current registrations valid on that date will be extended to 7 years after they were issued. Now, this is an important note - FAA has given no indication that they will be reissuing new certificates of registration, only extending the expiration out to 7 years. Given the current 190-day backlog at FAA Aircraft Registry, this seems only logical as that would create even larger workloads. If AOPA learns otherwise, we will certainly update this information.
@Daddis At AOPA
To be clear, the extension applies ONLY to registration applications pertaining to new aircraft or an aircraft purchase. In those cases a copy of the registration application should be retained and placed in the aircraft as a temporary registration, good for 90 days. As you approach the 90 expiration date, and that date is 90 days from the date which the aircraft registry receives the paperwork, if you haven't received a new official registration card, you can request an extension. That is one reason we here at AOPA PIC always instruct to send paperwork registered mail so the sender knows when to start the clock. All of this DOES NOT apply to registration renewals. In that case the FAA is relying upon the owner to know when the registration expires and to either wait for a letter from the Aircraft Registration Branch approximately six months prior to expiration that will explain how to renew online or to manually send in form 8050-1B. The registry considers the sending of that letter a courtesy so if not received I suggest renewing manually. Note that the registry is not allowed to process applications if received prior to six months from expiration. A final input is the registry does prioritize renewal applications and does try to get them done in sixty days. If you have the patience I suggest calling them after you get confirmation the paperwork has been received, 866-762-9434.