An Instrument Rating holder can fly through cloud by sole reference to instruments, without being able to see out of the window. It also permits flight in airways, enabling longer flights to be conducted entirely in controlled airspace on IFR flight plans. Instrument approaches allow descent through cloud to minimum altitudes using both precision (e.g. ILS) and non-precision (e.g. LNAV) instrument approach procedures. This is valid worldwide using the same procedures and radio telephony phraseology.

The Competency Based Instrument Rating is exactly the same qualification as any other Instrument Rating, but involves a simpler training route more suitable for private pilots. The theory syllabus has been much reduced to exclude commercial and airliner aspects. The amount of flight training is based principally on the student’s ability and competence rather than setting an extensive prescribed course.

The Instrument Rating (Restricted) is based on the UK IMC rating and is designed to enable safe flight in cloud including instrument approaches but does not allow access to airways. It is valid only in UK airspace up to Class D.

For those who already hold a third country Instrument Rating, such as the FAA IR, a simplified FAA/EASA conversion route has been created towards the EASA IR.