Pilot Documentation, Age And Medicals

International Crew Documentation

U.S. flight crews traveling abroad are required to carry all appropriate FAA certificates. Temporary certificates are rarely acceptable. ICAO bases medical certificates requirements on the type of license held rather than specific pilot operation. Airline Transport Pilots are required to have a valid first class medical. These certificates are typically considered valid only to the actual date of exam, not the end of the month.

A restricted radiotelephone operator’s license issued by the FCC is required, even though this license no longer is required domestically. 

A machine readable passport is required for all international travel and should be valid for a period of at least six months at the time of arrival in a foreign country. This varies by country and visa requirements. 

Positive identification of the flight crew will facilitate entry into a country as well as airport access. The International Business Aviation Council, Ltd. (IBAC) offers an aircrew identification card that has become the standard for the industry. Customized aircrew cards are available to all NBAA Member flight crews through NBAA’s affiliation with IBAC. These cards conform to the requirements of ICAO Annex 9 on Facilitation and can be obtained directly from IBAC at www.ibac.org.

Is There a Maximum Age Limit for Pilots Flying Internationally?

There is no "Age 60" problem with Part 91/GA operations. The maximum age of 65 requirement comes into play with Commercial operations, (Part 135 or 121). The Amendment #172 to ICAO Annex 1 went into effect on 13NOV14. This amendment established the Upper age limit for pilots engaged in international commercial air transport operations. Here is the quote.

2.1.10 Limitation of privileges of pilots who have attained their 60th birthday and curtailment of privileges of pilots who have attained their 65th birthday

A Contracting State, having issued pilot licences, shall not permit the holders thereof to act as pilot of an aircraft engaged in international commercial air transport operations if the licence holders have attained their 60th birthday or, in the case of operations with more than one pilot, their 65th birthday.

Note.— Attention is drawn to on the validity period of Medical Assessments for pilots over the age of 60 who are engaged in commercial air transport operations.

The validity period that the note speaks to is quoted here below: When the holders of airline transport pilot licences — aeroplane, helicopter and powered-lift, commercial pilot licences — aeroplane, airship, helicopter and powered-lift, and multi-crew pilot licences — aeroplane, who are engaged in commercial air transport operations, have passed their 60th birthday, the period of validity specified in shall be reduced to six months.

This quote is from the ICAO’s FAQ page on Personnel Licensing 

1) Pilot-in-Command or Co-Pilot aged 60-64 years of age

In accordance with Article 33 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the amendment means that if a pilot is 60 years of age or over but less than 65 years of age and is engaged in operations with more than one pilot, he/she cannot be prevented by reason of age from operating in airports or the airspace of any ICAO Contracting State. For single-pilot commercial air transport operations, the upper age limit remains at 60 years. A State may impose a lower maximum age limit than that specified by ICAO in § 2.1.10 for the licenses it issues but it cannot prevent, by reason of age, an aircraft from another State operated by a pilot holding a licence issued or validated by that State, who is below the ICAO upper age limit, from operating in the airspace above its territory.

2) Pilot 65 years of age and over

Articles 39 and 40 of the Convention are also relevant to the age limit of pilots engaged in commercial air transport operations as they authorize international flights by flight crew who do not meet all international licensing Standards, provided that an authorization is given by each State into which the aircraft is operated. Those seeking information concerning States that may authorize pilots to fly in their airspace after reaching the age of 65 years are advised to contact individual Civil Aviation Authorities.

3) Augmented crews

In commercial long-range air transport, the designated flight crew may be augmented, and can number three, four or even more pilots. In the case of flight crew comprising more than two pilots, the intent of § 2.1.10 is to ensure that both pilots are less than 65 years of age.

4) Medical Assessment

When over 60, a six-monthly medical assessment is necessary (ICAO specifies an annual medical assessment for those under 60 years who are engaged in two-pilot operations).


There is not a requirement or recommendation for a co-pilot to be under 60years old if the PIC is between 60 and 65 years of age.

An individual state (country) has the right to set their own rules apart from the ICAO or FAA. AIP for the country where you are operating will indicate the specifics for that particular country. Look in the AIP General Section, Section 1.7.

What Class Medical Certificate do I Need to Have Internationally?

ICAO directs a First Class Medical if you have an ATP or Commercial Pilot Certificate. The FAA Class One will expire at the end of the 6th month interval for USA operations, 6 months from the DATE of examination for ICAO operations. Specific countries may have different expirations and can be found in their Aeronautical Information Publication, AIP. For references, take a look at  ICAO Annex 1, Chapter 1, Paragraph, Annex 1, Chapter 2, Paragraph, 14CFR 61.23

Is There Anything Special About My FAA Medical Certificate If It Is A "Special Issuance" Internationally?

Operations in the USA, NO. Internationally, MAYBE. In 2012 the FAA appealed the personal carry requirement for USA domestic operations. This was for only for “Special Issuance” conditions. Statement of Demonstrated Ability, SODA’s have always required to be in personal possession of the airman. ICAO does not agree with this and directs personal possession of “any special limitations.” Individual countries may adopt this ICAO standard or one of their own. Individual AIP’s will have country specific information. Here are the references for this:

Federal Air Surgeon’s Bulletin, 2012-2 and 2012-3, Agency/Docket # FAA2012-0056, Admt.#67-21, ICAO Article 29, ICAO Annex 1, Chapter 1, Paragraph ICAO Annex 1, Chapter 6, Note#3

Where Is The Requirement To Have A Spare Set Of Corrective Lens When Operating Internationally? 

Private operators are required only for near vision correction. Commercial operators, ICAO directs a secondary set of eyeglasses for any required correction. Here are the references for this: 

ICAO Annex 1, Paragraph  (Only if Near Sighted)

ICAO Annex 6, Part 1, Chapter 5, Paragraph 9.5 (Any corrective lenses)

On What Day Does my Medical Expire Internationally?

ICAO directs your medical expires on the DATE of the exam. ICAO allows contracting states (Think: USA) to extend medicals up to 45 days from the date of exam. The FAA has chosen to extend the expiration only to the last day of the exam month.

Here are the references for this: 

ICAO Annex 1, Chapter 1, Paragraph, “Note”

14 CFR 61.23 Medical Certificates; Requirements and Duration

What Is The Duration Of My Medical Operating Internationally?

ATP <40 years old or Commercial Pilot Certificate=12Mos 

ATP Pilot Certificate >40 years old=6Mos

Commercial Pilot Certificate >60 years =6mos

At the core of this is ICAO directs an EKG every year if you are serving as a commercial pilot and hold and ATP. FAA’s response is ATP’s get a first class every 6mos (this means that at least once/year an EKG will be done) problem solved. Not so for 2ndclass medicals, EKG done once every OTHER year or even longer if you are below 40YOA. The best gouge for this requirement I have found can be found at the NBAA’s website, here is a link:  Here are the references for this: Annex 1, Chapter 2, Paragraph, 14CFR 61.23. 


1. Get a First Class Flight Physical

2. Maintain a First Class Physical at 60ms intervals

3. Do not be outside the USA in your expiration month

4. 91/GA pilots are not regulated by the commercial "Retirement" age of 65

5. Commercial pilots are not required to operate with a younger than 60 pilot when operating internationally. (2-pilot operations)