Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:44 pm
I think I can shed a little light on this for you. I've been meaning to answer your question since Saturday, but we've had our first little baby arrive on Friday, and things have become quite busy! Hence the delay.
What the situation is, is really simple and can be summed up as "you need to ask the airport of arrival what you need to do as each airport is different".
The why it's like that is more complicated!
Basically in the past you needed to pass through a customs airport for all arrivals and departures. You could even get a free landing at the large airports such as Dublin, if your stop was purely to pass through customs!
Then after the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, it was the view of the Irish government that routine customs checks was illegal under the treaty as the treaty didn't allow for routine customs checks on intra EU movements. (Free movement of people and goods).
So the requirement to stop at a customs airport was dropped, and we all moved about happily with no restricting and no reporting requirements in and out of the Republic at all.
At that time the only flight guide for Ireland was produced by Pooleys, and listed a small number of airports. Then a guide was produced by Kevin Glynn which listed 164 (I think!) airfields in Ireland, including lots of microlight strips.
A year or so afterwards some airports started to make requirements for pilots to give them prior notification about the foreign flights (in and outbound). It was a small number of airports at first, and each had different notification requirements. The airports explained that it was a customs requirement and that they had no choice but to insist on the notification, but there was no legislation quoted.
I tried my best at the time to track down the legislation that gave rise to this, but couldn't any. I really wanted to get to the bottom of what the requirements were and therefore the correct time limits (rather than different ones being quoted by different airports).
So I wrote to Customs and ask them to clarify the requirements and the legislation underpinning it.
A nice lady from Customs called me back and we talked it through in some detail. She was heading up the changes from the Customs side. Basically she explained Customs were operating under the impression that there were 16 airports in Ireland and felt comfortable that they had good oversight of those, enough to know what was going on. Then when they saw Kevin Glynn's book, they realised that there were at least 10 times that number, and they though that they had to do something to get some visualisation of their operations so that they could spot if some customs regulations were in danger of being broken.
They didn't believe that they could bring in appropriate legislation for it, so thought about other ways that it could work. They realised that any airport in Ireland that operates international flights needs to be licenced by the tax authorities to facilitate those international flights and that pilots needed PPR to use the airport (all airports in Ireland legally require PPR). So they decided to make the airport operators responsible for the customs notification. They told the airport operators that they would either need to gather the information on international flights and send it to customs or ensure that the pilots did that themselves, before giving the airport operator gives PPR to use the airfield for such flights. Which option (airport submitting or pilot submitting) and the notice periods to be given was decided by negotiation between airport and customs on a case by case basis. The leverage being, that if the airport didn't comply, then their licence to operate international flights would be withdrawn.
At the time I spoke to her, she said that agreements had been made with most airports at that stage, and they were finalising the last few.
So in essence if you don't comply with the customs notification requirement of the relevant airport, there may be implications for the airport itself. You may also be refused PPR in future by the airport as they don't want the trouble that you bring on them.
So the lack of legislation brings the problems of lack of consistency with different airports having different rules. But it does bring an advantage of some flexibility. For example, I've often not been able to comply with the notice cut off time (24 hours in my case), and filed the report much later. Nobody gets really upset as there isn't a legislative backing for the checks. In certain cases I was not able to give more than a few hours’ notice of arrival from abroad as plans changed as I tried to get back home. A phone call before departure from abroad and everyone was happy; customs got to know what was happening before it happened, even if it wasn't anything like 24 hours’ notice and I got home. They also don’t get fussed that I give them notice the evening before for a flight the next day, so long as I give it to customs and the airport (so both have it by the following morning).
So that's the short story of what you have to do, and the long story of why it's that way!