Please note that obtaining diplomatic clearance for foreign government ships, including naval vessels, to enter U.S. territory requires similar use of the Diplomatic Clearance Application System as described below for state aviation. Additional guidance from the Department of Defense on the treatment of foreign naval vessels can be found here.
A. General Clearance Requirements
- Foreign governments seeking diplomatic clearance for state aircraft to transit or land within United States territorial airspace must obtain a Diplomatic Clearance Number (DCN) issued in advance by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives (PM/GPI). A DCN authorizes the aircraft to transit or land in the United States and its territories in accordance with the approved itinerary.
- To obtain a DCN, foreign governments must submit an application to PM/GPI via the web-based Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS). Once a PM/GPI Diplomatic Clearance Officer verifies that all necessary data has been provided and that diplomatic clearance is appropriate, the system will note that clearance has been granted and issue a unique DCN.
- Clearances to transit or land in the Freely Associated States of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the Republic of Palau, or the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) will not be entered in or processed via DCAS. Final approval rests with the applicable host nation. To transit or land in the Freely Associated States, foreign governments must submit a formal request to the applicable host nation for approval. The host nation government will consult with the U.S. government. Foreign governments must submit a request at least three full business days in advance of the aircraft entering the applicable airspace, or 30 days in advance for maritime vessels.
- 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.
B. Aircraft Clearance Lead Time and Validation
- Each foreign mission must submit diplomatic clearance requests via DCAS no less than three business days in advance of the aircraft’s initial entry into the United States. 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. “Business days” routinely are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays when the U.S. government is closed. To facilitate planning, federal holidays observed by the U.S. government in 2021 follows:
Friday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
Monday, January 18 – Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 15 – President’s Day
Monday, May 31 – Memorial Day
Sunday, July 4 – Independence Day
Monday, July 5 – Independence Day (observed)
Monday, September 6 – Labor Day
Monday, October 11 – Columbus Day
Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day
Thursday, November 25 – Thanksgiving Day
Friday, December 25 – Christmas Day (observed)
Saturday, December 25 – Christmas Day
Friday, December 31 – New Year’s Day (observed)
- Complying with the three-business-day advance notification procedure is critical to ensuring necessary information is provided with adequate lead time to the various U.S. government agencies overseeing flights into and within U.S. airspace.
- In a limited number of circumstances, PM/GPI will take action during non-duty hours. Exceptions to the three business day advance notification requirement may be granted for the following circumstances:
- 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 flight in support of a routine medical appointment is not considered a medical emergency and requires the routine three business day advance application.
- Short-notice official government business VIP flights: Short-notice requests(less than three business days) concerning VIP flights must be accompanied by information describing briefly the official nature of the government business, to include the name of key U.S. 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 three-star general/flag officer and above.
- Short-notice official government business requiring movement of senior government officials, or for cargo deemed to be critical to an operation or emergency: An exception may be granted to support new and developing situations.
- Significant crisis or event requiring a senior foreign government official to alter travel plans on short notice.
- Humanitarian or disaster assistance operations.
- Search and rescue operations.
- Mechanical or weather delay.
- A “last minute” amendment to a previously approved application involving a change in aircraft, tail number, call sign, officer-in-charge, or number of passengers:
- For all short-notice situations that qualify for an exception to policy, please:
- Submit a complete application via DCAS, or amend an existing application via DCAS.
- Send an email to DCAS@state.gov to highlight and to justify the pending short-notice request. Please also call and, as necessary, leave a message at 202-647-9000 to alert PM/GPI Diplomatic Clearance Officers on stand-by of the short-notice request for support.
- PM/GPI provides limited after-hours support during regular business days, Monday – Friday, from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Washington, DC time. PM/GPI also monitors the DCAS mailbox and phone line each weekend and holiday between 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PM/GPI personnel will only work requests that meet the standards for an exception to policy. All other requests will be reviewed during the next duty day.
- Validity of Diplomatic Clearance Numbers: Approved DCNs are valid for the following periods:
- Arrival into the United States –plus or minus three (3) hours.
- Movement within the United States –plus or minus three (3) hours.
- Departure from the United States –plus or minus three (3) hours.
Any arrival or departure beyond the timeframes established herein requires the foreign embassy to immediately submit an amendment to the applicable DCAS application and email the Diplomatic Clearance Officers.
It is the responsibility of the foreign government to coordinate and confirm with the appropriate airport points of contact all arrival and departure schedules and changes. There are circumstances whereby an airport authority, military or civilian, may not be able to accommodate the user request.
- Aircraft Military Landing Authorization Numbers (MLAN):
- 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 submitted to the appropriate U.S. 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, or NAS New Orleans. When requesting to use National Guard or military reserve unit ramps on civilian airfields, please 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.
- The foreign government representative is responsible for ensuring each aircraft intending to use a military airfield or military ramp at civilian airfields has been issued a MLAN by the appropriate U.S. military service prior to the aircraft departing its home station or other location 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.
- Flight Routing Authorization: Special 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 D2 to determine when special routing is required.)
- Customs and Border Protection Notification: It is the foreign government’s responsibility to submit a complete manifest of both crew and passengers to U.S. 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. Failure to provide this information could result in the request being denied landing rights.
- For military airfields, the owning military service headquarters will issue a Prior Permission Required (PPR) number as final authorization to use the military airfield. The foreign 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 last 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 24 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. Final authority for issuing a PPR rests with the base/installation commander and airfield manager, and is based on factors such as Maximum on Ground (MOG), base/installation closures, manning and shift restrictions, HAZMAT restrictions, weapons restrictions, or persistent violation of base/installation guidelines.
C. Procedures To Submit Diplomatic Aircraft Clearance Requests
- Each foreign embassy in the United States seeking diplomatic clearance must have at least one trained DCAS operator. DCAS operators obtain an account by visiting DCAS, selecting “Request Account – Foreign Embassy Employees,” and following the instructions. A PM/GPI Diplomatic Clearance Officer will respond and assist the requestor, as necessary, to navigate the system.
- Please follow the procedures detailed in the Diplomatic Clearance Application System (DCAS) Submitter Guide, located within the “DCAS Resources” tab after logging into the user’s account.
- The following is a list for ensuring DCAS application blocks are properly and completely annotated:
- 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 daytime number, and an after-hours telephone number for use during urgent situations. Please do not list a number for the embassy that is not answered after-hours.
- 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.
- As appropriate, include in the “Summary” block the name of U.S. person(s) with whom the highest ranking VIP is meeting, the name of the conference, the name of the military exercise, or any other clarifying information for the request.
- If applicable, state the name and title/position of the highest ranking VIP on board the aircraft. For diplomatic clearance purposes, a VIP is defined as a Cabinet Minister or three-star General/Flag Officer, and above.
- In the free-text “Comments” section, please add any additional information that would help U.S. government officials to better understand the nature of the flight or any potential issues involved.
- Any country wishing to land aircraft at a U.S. military facility must obtain a Military Landing Authorization Number (MLAN) from the U.S. Air Force (ALAN), U.S. Navy (NALAN), or U.S. Army (AALAN). If an annual blanket ALAN or NALAN has been issued by a U.S. military service, enter the issued number in the “Comments” tab of the application. If not, it will be added at a later time by the appropriate military service.
- Enter the specific type of aircraft. It will either be a “State” or “Civil” aircraft. A foreign military aircraft MUST have clearance issued by the Department of State (PM/GPI) before it can operate within the United States. All foreign government owned non-military aircraft are also considered state aircraft. On a case-by-case basis, chartered civil aircraft may be considered 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 assist in making such determinations, the Department of State 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 exclusively transport government officials or government cargo for official government business;
- 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; and
- 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.
- 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. For 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.
- 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.
- Enter the full name of the pilot, the number of crew on board, and the number of passengers (PAX).
- 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-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 appear in the dropdown window, select it and continue to the next itinerary block. Put all times in ZULU hours. The aircrew or mission planner can assist with the calculations.
- Enter the date and time when the plane will be arriving at its first destination, or Airport of Entry (AOE), in the United States. Use the four-letter ICAO code for that airport if it appears in the dropdown 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 ICAO code for the airports and put all times in ZULU hours.
- Enter the date and time when the plane will be departing from its final port in the United States. Use the ICAO code for that airport and list the name and ICAO code for the first destination outside the United States.For transits or 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 you require assistance with transits, feel free to contact the Diplomatic Clearance Officer for assistance.
- 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 who will deplane upon arrival, and not for bulk weapons being transported as cargo, although they too are required to be identified as such.
- Describe the type of cargo the aircraft is carrying. If the cargo is hazardous, please complete details on the type of HAZMAT. Note: The HAZMAT Measure/Weight column refers to the Net Explosive Weight (NEW) of the item, not the actual physical weight of the item(s).
D. Route, Flight, and Other Operational Information
- The clearance is valid only for the itinerary as approved by the PM/GPI Diplomatic Clearance Officer and specified in the diplomatic clearance request.
- Effective January 1, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandated that all aircraft be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out to fly in most U.S.-controlled airspace. Foreign state aircraft operating with a Department of State issued Diplomatic Clearance Number in the performance of official missions are exempt from this mandate. For more details, please refer to federal regulations 14 CFR 91.225 and 14 CFR 91.227.2.
- An FAA routing authorization is required in advance of any state aircraft operation by the following special interest countries: Cuba, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, Sudan, and Syria. Foreign government embassies of these countries must request and receive specific routing authorizations directly from the FAA. The FAA point of contact is listed in section E.
- An aircraft may not land at an airport that has not been specified on the diplomatic clearance request and approved in advance by the Diplomatic Clearance Officer. The port of entry must be an airfield routinely serviced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It is the responsibility of the foreign government to submit a complete manifest of both crew and passengers to CBP at the port of entry prior to arriving in-country. Failure to do so could result in the mission being delayed until all persons have been properly vetted.
- Countries wishing to land at a U.S. military installation must also have permission from the appropriate U.S. military service headquarters, and be issued a 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 an approved request, please annotate in the “Amendment Explanation” section what specific changes have occurred. 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.
- It is the requesting government’s responsibility to meet all other applicable U.S. government agency requirements: e.g., rules established by the Federal Aviation Administration, relevant port authorities, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Failure to comply with these agency entry/exit procedures could result in penalties and affect issuance of future diplomatic clearances.
- Please note the following requirements regarding diplomatic flights into the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area:
- Washington National-Ronald Reagan Airport (KDCA) is NOT authorized for arrival or departure of foreign state aircraft.
- Baltimore-Washington International Airport (KBWI) and Dulles International Airport (KIAD) are located inside the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).
- Joint Base Andrews (KADW) and Davison Army Airfield (KDAA) are also located inside the Washington, D.C. SFRA.
- For related information, refer to the Basic Flight Information and Air Traffic Control Procedures United States Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices and read the Washington, DC Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) Notices to Airmen(NOTAMs) prior to filing a flight plan to any airport inside the Washington, DC SFRA.
E. Points of Contact
- For questions about diplomatic aircraft clearances, the PM/GPI points of contact at the Department of State are:
Mr. Rodney Bethea (Primary)
Telephone: 202-453-8390 (office) or 202-549-7148 (mobile)
Mr. Thomas Brown
Telephone: 202-453-8388 (office) 202-701-4872 (mobile)
- For aircraft landing number authorizations at U.S. military airfields:
- Air Force Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (ALAN):
Air Force Civil and Foreign Government Aviation Access Branch (AF/A3OJ)
Telephone: 757-254-7594 or 202-404-7890
- Navy Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (NALAN):
OPNAV Navy Foreign Liaison Office (N2L)
- Army Aircraft Landing Authorization Numbers (AALAN):
U.S. Army Aeronautical Services Agency (USAASA)
- For Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Special Routing Authorization:
Program Manager for International Flight Operations Security (FAA AJR-222)
Telephone: 202-267-8276, or 202-267-8115