ICAO codes

The ICAO is a specialised organisation of the United Nations whose aim is to improve the policies and standards of the international aviation industry. The head office of the ICAO is located in Montreal, Canada.


On April 4, 1947, a decision of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, better known as the Chicago Convention on December 7, 1944, officially established.


What does the abbreviation ICAO stand for?

ICAO is an abbreviation of International Civil Aviation Organization.

What are ICAO codes?

Icao codes are two to four-letter codes used by pilots and air traffic controllers in their communication, when making flight plans and in the Notams (Notices to Airmen).
ICAO codes refer to a location and/or name of an airport. In addition, ICAO codes can also indicate parts of the airspace, managed by a particular air traffic control organization.

For example: Germany has as its country code "ED, Europe, Deutschland" and in combination with Dusseldorf Airport the ICAO code is EDDL (Europe, Deutschland, DusseLdorf).

What does the ICAO do?

The ICAO has many different activities to improve the policies and standards of the international aviation industry. In this way, they develop standards, monitor compliance with operations, conduct surveys and analyses, offer assistance to create aviation capacity through activities in conjunction with members and stakeholders.

ICAO's tasks range from publishing the Standard and Recommend Practices (SARP) and Procedures for Air Navigation Services (PANS) to conducting investigations to improve civil aviation, aeronautical engineering and safety regulations.

The difference between ICAO codes and IATA codes

In contrast to IATA codes, each airport has a unique code. Documentation and communication systems mainly use an IATA code. Pilots and air traffic controllers use an ICAO code. Mostly because an ICAO code is unique and an IATA code can be the same on several airports.

ICAO members

Currently, 191 countries are members of ICAO and almost all countries follow the established guidelines. The organisation cooperates with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to realise all activities of the organisation.

For more information about other airport codes, please visit our pages about FAA codes and IATA codes.