Diplomatic Aircraft Clearance Procedures For Foreign State Aircraft To Operate In United States National Airspace

A. GENERAL CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS.

1. Foreign governments seeking diplomatic clearance for state aircraft to overfly U.S. territorial airspace or land in the U.S. must obtain a diplomatic clearance number (DCN) issued in advance by the Office of International Security Operations, Bureau of Political Military Affairs (PM/ISO), Department of State. The DCN authorizes the aircraft to transit, over fly, or land in the United States and/or its territories, in accordance with the approved itinerary.

2. The U.S. Department of State must also issue diplomatic clearance for foreign aircraft to overfly or land in the Freely Associated States of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, or the Federated States of Micronesia. For overflight and landing clearance authorization, foreign governments must submit a formal request to the host nation government and also to the U.S. embassy in the applicable country. Each request must be submitted at least three business days in advance of the aircraft entering the applicable airspace.

3. Foreign governments seeking to land state aircraft at U.S. military facilities located in a foreign territory do not require a DCN issued by the U.S. Government; however they do require a landing authorization number per paragraph B.5. below.

4. To obtain a Diplomatic Clearance Number, foreign governments must submit information to PM/ISO via the web-based Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS). Once the PM/ISO Diplomatic Clearance Officer verifies that all necessary data is provided and that diplomatic clearance is appropriate, he updates the application on DCAS. The automated system will reflect that clearance has been granted and a unique diplomatic clearance number has been issued.

B. AIRCRAFT CLEARANCE LEAD-TIME AND VALIDITY.

1. Each foreign mission must submit diplomatic clearance requests via DCAS (https://dcas.state.gov) no later than three full business days (72 working hours) in advance of the aircraft’s initial entry into the United States. "Business days" routinely are Monday through Friday, and do not include federal holidays during which the U.S. Government is closed. For an example not involving a holiday, requests for aircraft to arrive in U.S. airspace on Monday at 1300Z hours must be submitted via DCAS no later than the previous Wednesday at 1300Z hours. To facilitate planning, Federal Holidays which the U.S. Government observes in 2015 are:


If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.

2015 Federal Holidays

Thursday, January 1

New Year’s Day

Monday, January 19

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, February 16

Washington’s Birthday

Monday, May 25

Memorial Day

Saturday 4, July

Observed Friday, July 3

Independence Day

Monday, September 7

Labor Day

Monday, October 12

Columbus Day

Wednesday, November 11

Veterans Day

Thursday, November 26

Thanksgiving Day

Friday , December 25

Christmas Day


2. Complying with the three business day advance notification procedures is critical to ensure necessary information and adequate lead-time is provided to the various U.S. Government agencies involved with flights into and within the airspace of the United States. In 2007 the President of the United States approved the National Strategy for Aviation Security, resulting in enhanced interagency collaboration on all airspace management activities, including coordination on diplomatic aircraft activities.

3. Exception to the three business day advance notification rule may be made for the following circumstances:

a. Bona fide Emergencies: Urgent medical evacuation, humanitarian and disaster assistance, and search and rescue operations are considered bona fide emergencies. Medical emergency requests must be accompanied by information about the emergency, a description of the patient’s condition, and the name and phone number of the hospital where the patient will be treated. A medical emergency is considered the possible loss of life, limb, or eyesight, if immediate treatment is not sought within 24 hours. A flight in support of a routine medical appointment is not considered a medical emergency and requires the routine three business day advance application as all other diplomatic flights.

b. Short-Notice Official Business VIP Flights: Requests concerning short notice VIP flights must be accompanied with information briefly describing the nature of the official government business, to include the name of key participants and location of the meeting. To be granted this exemption, the VIP must be on official business. For purposes of diplomatic clearance, the Department of State considers a VIP to be a cabinet minister or a 3-star general/flag officer, and above.

4. Validity of Diplomatic Clearance Numbers (DCNs): Approved DCNs are valid for the following time frames:

a. Arrival into the U.S. – Plus or minus three (3) hours.

b. Movement within the U.S. – Plus or minus three (3) hours.

c. Departure from the U.S. – Plus or minus three (3) hours.

Any arrival or departure beyond the time frames established herein requires the embassy to immediately submit an amendment to the applicable DCAS application.

In addition, it is the responsibility of the foreign government to coordinate all arrival/departure changes with the appropriate airport points of contact.

5. Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (MLAN):

a. Requests to land at military airfields (Air Force/Navy/ Army) require issuance of a Military Aircraft Landing Authorization Number (MLAN). Requests for an ALAN (Air Force), NALAN (Navy), or AALAN (Army), will be automatically submitted to the appropriate military service by the Department of State via DCAS, however, it is IMPERATIVE that the individual embassy comply with the following: Military locations must be clearly designated on the request, for example: McGuire AFB, Gray AAF, NAS New Orleans. When requesting to use National Guard or military reserve unit ramps on civilian airfields, designate the airfield appropriately. For example, cite Bangor ANGB instead of Bangor International. If only the civilian designation for the airfield is cited, for example Bangor IAP or Minneapolis IAP, this indicates that the civilian side of the airfield only will be utilized).

b. The Embassy is responsible to ensure each aircraft intending to use a military airfield or military ramps at civilian airfields has been issued an MLAN by the appropriate military service prior to the aircraft departs its home station or point prior to entry into the United States. Once the military service issues an MLAN, the embassy requestor will receive an email notification from the Department of State (via DCAS) showing the update. .

6. Flight Routing Authorization: Routing requests must be received by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at least three (3) full working days prior to the scheduled flight. (See paragraph D1 to determine if special routing is required.)

7. It is the foreign government’s responsibility to submit a complete manifest of both crew and passengers to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Airport of Entry (AOE) a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours prior to arrival in the United States and/or U.S. territories. In addition, some military locations will require a complete manifest prior to issuance of final clearance to land at the airfield.

8. For military airfields, the owning military service headquarters will issue a Prior Permission Required (PPR) number as finial authorization to use the military airfield. The embassy and aircraft commanders are responsible for ensuring PPRs have been approved for all military landing locations prior to departure from their home station or point prior to entry into the United States. Any changes to the landing times, cargo, or crew/passengers may require reissuance of the PPR and amending of the Diplomatic Clearance. The minimum amount of advance notice is twenty-four hours; yet, some airfields require greater lead times. Headquarters, United States Air Force will attempt to obtain the PPR number for all diplomatically cleared aircraft seeking permission to land at U.S. Air Force bases and will input the PPR number into DCAS along with the ALAN number.

C. PROCEDURES TO SUBMIT DIPLOMATIC AIRCRAFT CLEARANCE REQUESTS.

1. Each foreign mission in the United States seeking diplomatic clearance must have at least one trained DCAS operator. DCAS users obtain an account by visiting https://dcas.state.gov, selecting "Request Account" in the upper right-hand corner and following the instructions. The PM/ISO Diplomatic Clearance Officer will respond and assist the requestor, as necessary, to use the system.

2. Follow the procedures as detailed in the Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS) User Guide. The User Guide is located within the “Admin” tab after logging into the user’s account at: https://dcas.state.gov.

3. Checklist for ensuring DCAS Application Blocks are properly and completely annotated:

a. Ensure applicant contact information is complete and current. This is provided via the submitter’s DCAS account profile stored within the database. Provide a reliable after-hours point of contact telephone number for use during urgent situations.

b. State the official purpose of the flight. Select the appropriate purpose using the drop-down window. If a mission is not listed select Other – Explain, and provide details in the “Purpose Details” block.

c. As appropriate, include the name of person(s) meeting, the name of the conference, the name of the military exercise, etc, or any other clarifying information for the request.

d. If applicable, state the name and title/position of the highest ranking VIP on board the aircraft. For these purposes, a VIP is defined as a Cabinet Minister or 3-star General/Flag Officer, and above.

e. In the free-text Comments section, add anything that may be important for U.S. Government officials to better understand the nature of the flight or any potential issues involved.

f. Any country wishing to land aircraft at a U.S. military facility must obtain a Military Landing Authorization Number from the U.S. Air Force (ALAN), U.S. Navy (NALAN), or U.S. Army (AALAN). If a blanket ALAN or NALAN has been issued by a U.S. military service, enter it in the application. If not, this will be added at a later time by the appropriate military service.

g. Enter the specific type of aircraft. It will either be a Military or Civil aircraft. A foreign military aircraft MUST have a diplomatic clearance issued by the Department of State before it can operate within the United States. All foreign non-military aircraft are considered civil aircraft. Civil aircraft may be considered, on a case-by-case basis for designation as a foreign state aircraft if the foreign embassy submits a formal application to the Department of State, via DCAS, requesting such designation. To make a determination, on a case-by-case basis, the DOS will consider factors such as:

  • Purpose of flight, e.g., governmental or non-governmental in nature,
  • Owner and operator of the aircraft, e.g., owned and operated by a foreign state, or chartered by a foreign state to exclusively perform a governmental function,
  • That the aircraft will not be used to engage in commerce, other than to transport government officials for official government business, and
  • Timeliness of request, i.e., the embassy submits a DCAS application at least three business days before the aircraft is to enter U.S. airspace.

Foreign non-military aircraft that are not granted a diplomatic clearance by the Department of State may seek to operate within the United States as civil aircraft, in accordance with rules and procedures established by the civil aviation authorities.

h. Enter the make and model of the aircraft being used for the mission, e.g., Boeing 747-400, Lockheed Martin C-130, Beechcraft King Air 350.

i. Enter the aircraft Call Sign that will be filed on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan. Valid state aircraft call signs for diplomatic flights are any alpha-numeric combination not to exceed seven (7) characters, usually beginning with an alphabetic character. If the state aircraft operator has an approved ICAO three letter designator, please use this designator as the first three letters of the call sign. Example: The Royal Australian Air Force’s ICAO identifier is ASY. A call sign for one of their missions might be ASY1234. When entering this information please do not use any blank spaces, dashes, slashes, or any other special characters.

j. Enter the aircraft tail number or registration number displayed on the aircraft. A valid entry is any alpha-numeric combination not exceeding ten (10) characters in length. When entering this information please do not use any blank spaces, dashes, slashes, or any other special characters.

k. Enter the name of the pilot, the number of crew on board and the number of passengers.

l. Itinerary:

  • Enter the time, date, and name of the airport from which the plane is departing immediately prior to entering the United States. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for that airport. When entering the ICAO code, DCAS may suggest names of airports similar to the code being entered. If the airport and code appears in the drop down window, select it and continue to the next itinerary block. Put all times in ZULU hours.

  • Enter the date and time at which the plane will be arriving at its first destination in the United States or at a U.S. airfield. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for that airport if it appears in the drop down window, and put all times in ZULU hours.

  • Please list all U.S. airports to which the plane will be flying, and the dates and times of arrival and departure for each one. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for the airports and put all times in ZULU hours.

  • Enter the date and time at which the plane will be departing from its last U.S. Port. Use the four (4) letter ICAO Code for that airport and list the name and ICAO code for the first destination outside the United States.

  • For overflights only, ensure the entry and exit points and times are provided by the aircrew or mission planner, and put all times in ZULU hours. If your require assistance with overflights feel free to contact the DCAS Administrator for assistance.

m. If applicable, describe all weapons and ammunition transported on the flight by serial number and amount. This section is mainly for weapons transported by individuals and not for bulk weapons being transported as cargo, although they too are required to be identified as such.

n. Describe the type of cargo the aircraft is carrying. If the cargo is hazardous, please complete details on the type of HAZMAT.

D. ROUTE, FLIGHT, AND OTHER OPERATIONAL INFORMATION.

1. The clearance is valid only for the itinerary specified in the diplomatic clearance request and any specific routing authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration. To determine if an FAA routing authorization is required, refer to the International Flight Information Manual webpage link for U.S. Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/ifim/us_restrictions/.

2. An aircraft may not land at an airport that has not been specified on the request form and approved by PM/ISO. The port of entry must be an airfield routinely serviced by Customs and Border Protection. It is the foreign government’s responsibility to submit a complete manifest of both crew and passengers to CBP at the POE.

3. Countries wishing to land at a U.S. military installation also must have specific permission from the appropriate U.S. military service headquarters and be issued an aircraft military landing authorization number (MLAN). In addition, most military airfields require the issuance of a PPR number from the base of intended landing before final approval is provided. The U.S. military service headquarters will normally request, receive and enter the PPR into the DCAS system. It is imperative that the requestor understand that the aircraft is NOT approved for landing at a military installation until the DCN, MLAN, and PPRs are issued and entered into DCAS. For changes to the DCN request, please specifically annotate in the “Comments” section of the DCN form. For example: Charleston AFB removed from itinerary and Dover AFB added; Landing time at Andrews AFB delayed 4 hours; aircraft tail number changed; HAZMAT added for delivery to Dover AFB, etc

4. It is the requesting government’s responsibility to meet other U.S. Government agency requirements, e.g., rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration, relevant Port Authorities, Agriculture, Public Health, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Failure to comply with these agency procedures could result in penalties and affect issuance of future diplomatic clearances.

5. Please note the following requirements regarding diplomatic flights into the Washington D.C. metropolitan area:

a. Washington National-Ronald Reagan Airport (KDCA) is NOT authorized for arrival or departure of foreign state aircraft.

b. Baltimore-Washington International Airport (KBWI) and Dulles International Airport (KIAD) are located inside the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).

c. Joint Base Andrews (KADW) and Davison Army Airfield (KDAA) are located inside the Washington D.C. Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).

d. For related information, refer to the International Flight Information Manual link for United States Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices at: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/ifim/us_restrictions/ and read the Washington, D.C. ADIZ/FRA Warning Signal Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) prior to filing a flight plan to any airport inside the Washington DC SFRA.

E. POINTS OF CONTACT.

1. For questions about diplomatic aircraft clearances, the Department of State point of contact at PM/ISO is Mr. Rodney Bethea:
Telephone: 202-736-7158
Fax: 202-647-4055
E-mail: Betheard@state.gov

2. For bona fide emergencies and official VIP short-notice requests outside of regular business hours, the Department of State after-hours point of contact is the Political-Military Action Team (PMAT). The PMAT does not handle routine diplomatic aircraft requests that embassies are required to be submit at least three business days in advance of each desired flight.
Telephone: 202-647-9000
E-mail: PM_AT_TEAM@state.gov

3. For aircraft landing number authorizations at U.S. military airfields:

a. Air Force Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (ALAN):
Air Force Civil and Foreign Government Aviation Access Branch (AF/A3OJR)
Telephone: 202-404-7888, 202-404-7890
Fax: 202-404-6288

b. Navy Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (NALAN):
OPNAV Navy Foreign Liaison Office (N2L)
Telephone: 703-695-1302
Fax: 703-695-1586/1560

c. Army Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (AALAN):
U.S. Army Aeronautical Services Agency (USAASA)
Telephone: 703-806-0686
Fax: 703-806-4409

4. For Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Special Routing Authorization:
Program Manager for International Flight Operations Security (FAA AJR-222)
Telephone: 202-267-8115
Fax: 202-267-9208
Email: 9-ATOR-HQ-RT-REQ@faa.gov