"My flight was delayed 6 years ago. Back then, I had no idea that I could get compensated for that. Can I still get a compensation for that flight delay?"
This is what many passengers who have only recently been made aware of their air passenger rights wonder.
Well, yes, you can probably still claim your cancelled or delayed flight compensation - but there is a time limit. How far back you can claim varies from one country to the next.
If your flight was cancelled or delayed by at least 3 hours, you can get up to 600€ in compensation from the airline. Check if you're eligible by filling out your flight information here - it takes only 3 minutes!
How Far Back Can I Claim Compensation In Each Country?
So you can claim for flight disruptions which happened years ago. But how many years exactly?
The time-limit depends on the legislation of the country you bring the claim to.
Here is an extensive list of countries in Europe, with how far back you can claim for each of them:
And here again in full text if that's easier for you. This is how far back you can undertake court actions to claim compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight:
- Austria: 3 years (Source: § 1489 ABGB („Allgemeines Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch“, Austrian General Civil Code))
- Belgium: 1 year (Source: Belgian Law of 25 August 1891 (article 9))
- Bulgaria: 3 years (Source: Article 111 (2) of the law of obligations and contracts - damages from contract obligations. It was also confirmed by the Supreme Court of Cassation (case No 1799/2014))
- Croatia: 2 years (Source: Article 127. of Law on Obligatory and Proprietary Rights in Air Transport
- Cyprus: 6 years
- Czech Republic: 3 years to bring the case to the attention of a National Enforcement Body (NEB) (Source: Civil Code No. 89/2012 Coll., § 629 par. 1
- Denmark: 3 years from the date of departure (Source: Danish limitation period Law, No 1063 of 28 April 2013)
- Estonia: 3 years (Source: Section 146.1 of Estonian General Part of Civil Code Act)
- Finland: 3 years (Source: Finish Statute of Limitations Act)
- France: 5 years
- Germany: 3 years (Source: Section 195 of the German Civil Code (BGB))
- Greece: 5 years (Source: National law)
- Hungary: 5 years
- Iceland: 2 years (Source: Icelandic aviation act 60/1998 as per the Montreal Convention)
- Ireland: 6 years
- Italy: 2 years (Source: Italian Civil Code has rendered applicable in Italy the 2 years prescription of actions under Montreal 1999 also for claims arising from EC261)
- Latvia: 2 years. Note also that the court will reject a claim if the carrier was not contacted within 6 months after the flight (Source: section 110, paragraph 2 of the Aviation Law and section 109 of the Aviation Law- Likumi Par aviāciju)
- Lithuania: 3 years (Source: Civil Procedure Code §1.125, para 8) + confirmed by the courts (e.g. case 2-77-494 / 2013, Vilnius District Court)
- Luxemburg: 10 years (Source: Article 189 du code de commerce)
- Malta: 2 years
- Norway: 3 years (Source: Law On Limitation Of Claims (Limitation Act) 1979 § 2)
- Poland: 1 year (Source: Article 778 Civil Code + Sygn. akt III CZP 111/16 (Supreme Court decision))
- Portugal: 3 years (Source: Article 498 Civil Code)
- Romania: 6 months for a complaint to the NEB, 3 years for a court action (Source: Government Ordinance no. 2/2001 on the legal regime of contraventions)
- Scotland: 5 years
- Slovakia: 2 years (Source: Act No. 128/2002 Coll. on State Control of Internal Market in Consumer Protection Issues and on amendments to certain acts)
- Slovenia: 2 years (Source: Zakon o spremembah in dopolnitvah Zakona o prekrških – ZP-1B (Uradni list RS, št. 44/05 z dne 5. 5. 2005))
- Spain: 5 years (Source: Amendment of article 1964 of the Spanish Civil Code that reduces from 15 years to 5 years such period for the exercise of personal actions that did not have a special term. The calculation of the time limit, applies the fifth Transitional Provision of the Law 42/2015, in reference to article 1939 of the Spanish Civil Code.)
- Switzerland: 2 years for a complaint to the NEB. You cannot undertake small court procedures (Source: Swiss Administrative Penal Act)
- Sweden: 10 years (Source: Preskriptionslag (1981:130))
- The Netherlands: 2 years (Source: Dutch Civil Code (Book 8:1835))
- United Kingdom (England, Wales, Northern Ireland but NOT Scotland): 6 years
As you can see, there is no harmonization at the European level: each country has their own legislation on the matter.
For instance, in France, you can claim up to 5 years after the flight - but only 3 years in Germany and 3 in Italy. But you can still claim up to 6 years after the flight disruption in the United Kingdom.
However, keep in mind that to this day, no passengers on a flight disrupted over 6 years before got compensated. Even though it is possible, in theory.
How Do I Know Which Country To Bring My Claim To?
If you let ClaimCompass do all the work for you, then you don't need to worry about that. Our legal experts will get in touch with the airline and the appropriate legal body.
Now, if you decide to take the matter in your own hands, I suggest you first read this guide packed with everything you need to know about flight disruptions and how to claim compensation.
Should you need to escalate your claim to a legal body such as a National Enforcement Body (NEB) or an Alternative Resolution Dispute (ADR) scheme, know that you can bring the case to the country of the departure airport or the arrival airport.
Whenever you have a choice, contact the legal body of the country where the legislation is most favorable to you: for example, in the case of a flight between the UK and Germany, contact the British NEB, since their statute of limitation is 6 years, versus 3 for Germany.
Can I Claim Compensation if My Flight Wasn't in Europe?
When the EU Regulation 261/2004 isn't applicable, can you still get money for your delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flight?
For international flights, the Montreal Convention acts as reference for your passenger rights - and it sets a time limit of 2 years to claim:
"The right to damages shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within a period of two years, reckoned from the date of arrival at the destination, or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived, or from the date on which the carriage stopped" - Article 35, Montreal Convention
When the EC 261 isn't applicable, you can still hope to be compensated under the Montreal Convention. Do not, however, that the time limit is shorter than in most European countries.
Plus, keep in mind that with the Montreal Convention, you are "only" eligible to compensation for damages incurred by the flight disruption. "Just" being delayed isn't enough for you to get any money from the airline.
Whenever you have the choice, claim compensation under the EU Regulation instead.