Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation

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Chicago Convention
Long name:
  • Convention on International Civil Aviation
Signature of the Chicago Convention
Signed7 December 1944
Effective4 April 1947
Condition26 ratifications
Parties193[1] (Cook Islands and all United Nations members except Liechtenstein)
DepositaryGovernment of the United States of America
LanguagesEnglish, French, Spanish, and Russian

The Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the UN charged with coordinating international air travel.[2] The Convention establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, security, and sustainability, and details the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel. The Convention also contains provisions pertaining to taxation.

The document was signed on December 7, 1944, in Chicago by 52 signatory states.[3] It received the requisite 26th ratification on March 5, 1947, and went into effect on April 4, 1947, the same date that ICAO came into being. In October of the same year, ICAO became a specialized agency of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Convention has since been revised eight times (in 1959, 1963, 1969, 1975, 1980, 1997, 2000 and 2006).

As of March 2019, the Chicago Convention had 193 state parties, which includes all member states of the United Nations except Liechtenstein. The Cook Islands is a party to the Convention although it is not a member of the UN.[1] The convention has been extended to cover Liechtenstein by the ratification of Switzerland.[4]

The convention prohibits countries from applying taxes to fuel used for international flights. This creates a problem for any policy measures designed to reduce the environmental impact of aviation, as the carbon emissions created by the combustion of fuel in aircraft have an effect of warming the planet. To address this issue, Sweden has implemented a tax on international air tickets.[5]

Main articles[edit]

Some important articles are:

Article 1: Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.

Article 3 bis: Every other state must refrain from resorting to the use of weapons against civil aircraft in flight.

Article 5: The aircraft of states, other than scheduled international air services, have the right to make flights across state's territories and to make stops without obtaining prior permission. However, the state may require the aircraft to make a landing.

Article 6: (Scheduled air services) No scheduled international air service may be operated over or into the territory of a contracting State, except with the special permission or other authorization of that State.

Article 10: (Landing at customs airports): The state can require that landing to be at a designated customs airport and similarly departure from the territory can be required to be from a designated customs airport.

Article 12: Each state shall keep its own rules of the air as uniform as possible with those established under the convention, the duty to ensure compliance with these rules rests with the contracting state.

Article 13: (Entry and Clearance Regulations) A state's laws and regulations regarding the admission and departure of passengers, crew or cargo from aircraft shall be complied with on arrival, upon departure and whilst within the territory of that state.

Article 16: The authorities of each state shall have the right to search the aircraft of other states on landing or departure, without unreasonable delay.

Article 24: Aircraft flying to, from or across, the territory of a state shall be admitted temporarily free of duty. Fuel, oil, spare parts, regular equipment and aircraft stores retained on board are also exempted from customs duty, inspection fees or similar charges.[6]

Article 29: Before an international flight, the pilot in command must ensure that the aircraft is airworthy, duly registered and that the relevant certificates are on board the aircraft. The required documents are:

Certificate of registration
Certificate of airworthiness
Passenger names, place of boarding and destination
Crew licenses
Journey Logbook
Radio Licence
Cargo manifest

Article 30: The aircraft of a state flying in or over the territory of another state shall only carry radios licensed and used in accordance with the regulations of the state in which the aircraft is registered. The radios may only be used by members of the flight crew suitably licensed by the state in which the aircraft is registered.

Article 32: The pilot and crew of every aircraft engaged in international aviation must have certificates of competency and licensees issued or validated by the state in which the aircraft is registered.

Article 33: (Recognition of Certificates and Licences) Certificates of airworthiness, certificates of competency and licensees issued or validated by the state in which the aircraft is registered, shall be recognized as valid by other states. The requirements for the issuing of those certificates or airworthiness, certificates of competency or licensees must be equal to or above the minimum standards established by the Convention.

Article 40: No aircraft or personnel with endorsed licenses or certificate will engage in international navigation except with the permission of the state or states whose territory is entered. Any license holder who does not satisfy international standard relating to that license or certificate shall have attached to or endorsed on that license information regarding the particulars in which he does not satisfy those standards.


The Convention is supported by nineteen annexes containing standards and recommended practices (SARPs). The annexes are amended regularly by ICAO and are as follows:

  • Annex 1 – Personnel Licensing
Licensing of flight crews, air traffic controllers & aircraft maintenance personnel. Including Chapter 6 containing medical standards.
  • Annex 2 – Rules of the Air
  • Annex 3 – Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation
Vol I – Core SARPs
Vol II – Appendices and Attachments
  • Annex 4 – Aeronautical Charts
  • Annex 5 – Units of Measurement to be used in Air and Ground Operations
  • Annex 6 – Operation of Aircraft
Part I – International Commercial Air Transport – Aeroplanes
Part II – International General Aviation – Aeroplanes
Part III – International Operations – Helicopters
  • Annex 7 – Aircraft Nationality and Registration Marks
  • Annex 8 – Airworthiness of Aircraft
  • Annex 9 – Facilitation
  • Annex 10 – Aeronautical Telecommunications
Vol I – Radio Navigation Aids
Vol II – Communication Procedures including those with PANS status
Vol III – Communication Systems
Part I – Digital Data Communication Systems
Part II – Voice Communication Systems
Vol IV – Surveillance Radar and Collision Avoidance Systems
Vol V – Aeronautical Radio Frequency Spectrum Utilization
  • Annex 11 – Air Traffic Services – Air Traffic Control Service, Flight Information Service and Alerting Service
  • Annex 12 – Search and Rescue
  • Annex 13 – Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation
  • Annex 14 – Aerodromes
Vol I – Aerodrome Design and Operations
Vol II – Heliports
Vol I – Aircraft Noise
Vol II – Aircraft Engine Emissions
Vol III – CO2 Certification Requirement
Vol IV – Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)
  • Annex 17 – Security: Safeguarding International Civil Aviation Against Acts of Unlawful Interference
  • Annex 18 – The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air
  • Annex 19 – Safety Management (Since 14 November 2013)

Annex 5, Units of Measurement to be Used in Air and Ground Operations, named in its Table 3-3 three "non-SI alternative units permitted for temporary use with the SI": the foot (for vertical distance = altitude), the knot (for speed), and the nautical mile (for long distance).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Signatories to the Convention ICAO
  2. ^ Convention on International Civil Aviation (on ICAO Website)
  3. ^ "What Is The Chicago Convention And Why Does It Matter?". Simple Flying. 2019-07-04. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  4. ^ Switzerland made the following declaration upon ratification: "My Government has instructed me to notify you that the authorities in Switzerland have agreed with the authorities in the Principality of Liechtenstein that this Convention will be applicable to the territory of the Principality as well as to that of the Swiss Confederation, as long as the Treaty of 29 March 1923 integrating the whole territory of Liechtenstein with the Swiss customs territory will remain in force": Convention on International Civil Aviation: Treaty status.
  5. ^ "Looking Back on 30 Years of Carbon Taxes in Sweden". Tax Foundation. 2020-09-23. Retrieved 2021-02-16.
  6. ^ This provision was extended by the ICAO Council in a 1999 Resolution, which states: “fuel ... taken on board for consumption by an aircraft from a contracting state in the territory of another contracting State departing for the territory of any other State shall be exempt from all customs or other duties ...” Moreover, the Resolution broadly interprets the scope of the Article 24 prohibition to include “import, export, excise, sales, consumption and internal duties and taxes of all kinds levied upon ... fuel”. (ICAO’s Policies on Taxation in the Field of International Air Transport, ICAO Doc. 8632-C/968, 3d rd. 2000)


Paul Michael Krämer, Chicago Convention, 50th Anniversary Conference, Chicago, October 31 – November 1, 1994. Zeitschrift für Luft- und Weltraumrecht 1995, S. 57.

External links[edit]