The Federal Aviation Administration is missing information on who owns at least one-third of the country's private and commercial planes.
More than 119,000 aircraft are unaccounted for in the U.S. as they have "questionable registration" because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA.
They also have no way to tell if planes are still in operation or if they have been junked.
The government agency is concerned terrorists and drug traffickers will take advantage of the confusion and buy planes without the government's knowledge.
The FAA plans to cancel the registration certificates of all 357,000 planes in the U.S. and require the owners to re-register so that they can reorganize their files.
"We have identified some potential risk areas, but I think we're trying to eliminate as much risk as possible through the re-registration process," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.
The FAA also need the updated registry to contact owners about safety problems. All of the states rely on it to charge sales tax and some airports employ it to bill for landing fees.