Crossing the border into the United States can be daunting. COPA has prepared some helpful resources to assist you in crossing as easily as possible.
In partnership with AOPA, we have created The Cross Border Flying Operations Manual. This publication contains over 150 pages and includes everything you need to know to fly in either country. It is available on both the COPA and AOPA Web sites in the “member’s only sections” for free. It is also available in a paper version from either COPA or AOPA, for a nominal charge.
Airport of Entry
All aircraft arriving into the United States are required to clear US customs at a designated Port of Entry. The US Customs and Border Patrol website contains a helpful list of designated Ports of Entry.
Flight Service and Flight Planning
Lockheed Martin, provider of Flight Service and Flight Planning services in the United States, has a helpful website for accessing their tools and resources.
Special Flight Authority
For Canadian Amateur-Built, Limited Class, and Ultralight aircraft, a Special Flight Authority is required to cross the border and is required to be kept in the aircraft at all times. The same applies to US Amateur-Builts flying in Canada. The following outlines the process for obtaining your SFA.
Canadian RPP/Cat. 4 Medical Holders: At this time, it is not possible for the holder of a Canadian RPP to operate a Certified, Amateur-Built, or Limited-Class aircraft in the United States.
Owner-maintenace aircraft are not allowed in the U.S.
- FSAW0303 FAA order Regarding Owner Maintenance Aircraft
- US FAA Special Flight Authority for Canadian Ultralight Aircraft Operating in The United States
- US FAA Special Flight Authority for Canadian Amateur-Built Aircraft Operating in The United States
- Standardized Validation Of A Special Airworthiness Certificate – Experimental, For The Purpose Of Operating A United States – Registered Amateur-Built Aircraft In Canadian Airspace
Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR)
When flying in the United States, all pilots need to be aware of and watch out for Temporary Flight Restrictions, or TFRs. These are a special type of Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that define an area restricted to air travel due to a hazardous condition, special event, or a general warning for the entire FAA airspace. The text of the actual TFR contains the fine points of the restriction. TFRs can often appear with very little notice, depending on the nature of the TFR. Pilots are encouraged to consult the FAA’s TFR website for graphical and map depictions of current and expected TFRs. You can also find this information on ForeFlight if you have a subscription.