Obtaining a US FAA pilot certificate (license) and a Flight Instructor Certificate, when you hold foreign pilot and instructor licenses is possible. The following procedures are applicable to all foreign pilots, except for our friends from Canada. For Canadian pilots and instructors, the process is much simpler. Read here – Canada TCCA to FAA pilot / flight instructor conversion.
Converting your Foreign Pilot’s License to FAA
If you hold a foreign ATP or Commercial Pilot license, then follow these steps –
- Go to FAA’s website and complete the process for obtaining a US FAA Private Pilot. There is no written or practical exam required for this. And there is no fee either. Here is a link to the FAA’s page. There are additional instructions for EASA guys, and some other countries that require additional fee to be paid to their respective Governmental Aviation Agencies. Once this step is completed, you should get your FAA Private Pilot (Foreign Based) in the mail. Your foreign pilot privileges and limitations will all be applicable on the US FAA Private. – FAR 61.75
- The next step is to come to the United States, and obtain a US FAA Commercial and Instrument Rating. All of your foreign flight times, and flight training is creditable, however you will need to take 2 written exams and 2 practical exams. It does not matter whether you take the commercial or the instrument rating ahead of the other.
- At this time you should hold a FAA Commercial Pilot, with instrument rating, and a foreign based Private Pilot. This qualifies you to move ahead with the Flight Instructor certification.
Converting your foreign Flight Instructor License to the US FAA Flight Instructor -CFI
There is no conversion process in place for converting or obtaining a US FAA Flight Instructor Certificate based on a foreign flight instructor license. You will need to follow the instructions laid down in FAR 61 Subpart H.
CFI Academy specializes in training Flight Instructor applicants. You can read about our CFI course here.
Foreign ATP holders
If you hold a foreign ATP, then you may qualify for the FAA ATP directly. You don’t have to go through the Commercial and Instrument Rating process as described above. However, you will, in this case, go to a Flight Training Provider that offers and provides a ATP CTP program. The cost of going through this path is usually more than the process described above. If there is a need for you to hold a US FAA ATP, then definitely go this route. Otherwise, if the goal is to get a US CFI certificate, then the above described method is much easier and cost effective.
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