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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

An Operating Licence relates to the nature, ownership, and financial health of an airline business. Operational safety is assessed under the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) scheme.

Please contact us with any queries or to discuss your application.

Two types of Operating Licence are available – Type A and Type B

  • A Type A Operating Licence is required by operators of aircraft with 20 or more seats and or using aircraft of more than 10 tonnes maximum take-off weight (MTOW).
  • A Type B Operating Licence is required by operators of aircraft with 19 or fewer seats.

The requirements for each type of licence are set out below. In many respects the requirements are identical, with the following exceptions applicants for Type A licences must pass a financial test and we will continue to monitor their financial health.

Requirements to qualify for an Operating Licence

Full details of requirements to qualify for an Operating Licence are available in the publication Official Record Series 1 – Licensing UK Airlines.


Your principal place of business must be in the UK to qualify for an Operating Licence from us.

Nature of business

The main occupation of the licence holder must be either:

  • air transport alone or
  • air transport combined with other aviation activities

Ownership and control

The business which will hold the Operating Licence must be owned and effectively controlled by qualifying nationals. You are advised to speak to us for guidance as to this criteria.


  • Applicants for Operating Licences must be of good repute.

Change of ownership

Holders of either type of Operating Licence are required to advise the CAA within 14 days of any change affecting the ownership of the licence holder and/or its parent or ultimate holding company.


Before an Operating Licence is granted, the applicant must demonstrate that sufficient insurance is in place for:

  • death or injury to passengers
  • third party damage
  • war risk
  • baggage and cargo

More detailed information on insurance requirements, including minimum required levels, is available on the Insurance page in this section of the website.


Applicants for Operating Licences must demonstrate that they have sufficient funding to support the business.

The exact amount of funding is established by us based on a realistic business plan submitted by the applicant.

We will continue to monitor the financial health of Operating Licence holders.

Licences can be revoked or suspended by us if we consider a Licence holder’s resources are no longer adequate for the operation of an airline.

Full details of financial requirements for Operating Licences are available in Official Record Series 1 – Licensing Airlines in the UK.

Financial protection

Holding an Operating Licence does not offer any kind of financial protection to passengers. The issue of financial protection for passengers is covered in full in the ATOL section of this website.

Operational safety

An Operating Licence does not certify an airline’s operational safety. This is assessed under the Air Operator Certificate scheme.