Crossing the border into the United States can be a daunting process. COPA has prepared some helpful resources to assist you in crossing as easily as possible. While we aim to always provide updated information, regulations are always subject to change and this guide is not a substitution to official sources. The official CBP Private Air APIS Guide can be found here.
GUIDE LAST UPDATED: OCT. 18, 2023
FLYING TO THE US
- Purchase Customs Decal (See further details below.)
- Select Port of Entry Airport here. Plan your trip to your airport of entry and the planned ETA. Contrary to popular belief you are not required to stop at the first available airport when crossing into the US from Canada.
- eAPIS filed with confirmation email received. You are still required to call the local CBP office and receive permission to land. You must file the Notice of Arrival through eAPIS at least 60 mins in advance of your departure time. If you wait until the day of departure to file the Notice of Arrival and submit the eAPIS manifest and call the CBP office, DO NOTdepart before or after 60 minutes of the departure time manifested in your eAPIS. (More details on eAPIS below).
- Call CBP office and receive permission to land and agree to the ETA and meeting location (it is recommended to ask the CBP Officer you receive permission from their initials as proof you received the PPR). This is your initial call.
- Flight Plan filed with Canadian FIC. (VFR, IFR or Defence VFR Flight Plan required). A flight plan is required to cross the border. Flight following is not a suitable alternative for cross border flights.
- Call 1-800 WXBRIEF in the US or 1-866 WXBRIEF in Canada for a weather briefing.
- Depart Canadian airport and open flight plan with Canadian FIC.
- Arrive at the agreed to CBP meeting place +/- 15 minutes from your agreed ETA. If the ETA changes call the CBP office before departure and update them on the revised ETA.
– Pro Tip: This can be done from a cell phone in the aircraft just before departure.
– Pro Tip: When filing your flight plan try and choose an alternate that also has CBP services in case you need to divert.
It may be possible to update your ETA in flight with FSS however this cannot be relied upon. When making this call with the CBP Agent, clarify your expectations if you are not confident you will arrive on time.
- After landing, taxi to the agreed to CBP meeting place, shut down the aircraft, and wait in the aircraft until you have received permission from the attending CBP agent to exit. Have your passport and pilots license (and medical page) ready for inspection. Some CBP Ports of Entry will require the US Customs and Immigration Form 605B completed in advance of your arrival (found here). Confirm if this form is required with the CBP agent when making your initial call.
- Once you have cleared US customs you are free to travel to any other airport in the US.
- See “Returning to Canada Checklist” for tips on returning home.
The official CBP Private Air APIS Guide is a comprehensive guide to the eAPIS system and can be found here.
eAIPS is used to produce a flight manifest for your aircraft, the crew, passengers onboard, and the trip you will be making into and out of the US. eAPIS is used for both entry and exiting the US.
To use eAPIS go to this page, and select enroll. Once you have received your account information after enrollment, input all information for all crew and passengers including passport details, addresses and dates of birth along with the address you will be staying while in the US.
After online registration, allow up to 5 days for approval, at which point an ID number will be provided to be used each time an eAPIS manifest is filed.
If there are any changes to passenger details, a tail number change, or a change to departure time of more than 60 minutes, you are now required to cancel the old APIS and file a new one – and the new one needs to be filed at least 60 minutes before departure. You may file an eAPIS manifest at any time but no later than 60 minutes before the ETA of a scheduled Notice of Departure or Notice of Arrival.
The CBP will be increasing random departure inspections on aircraft departing from the US. It is essential that departure times are updated with the CBP. If they arrive and you have already departed, you may be subject to penalty action.
Pro Tip: FlashPass offers a 3-month trial to file an eAPIS for COPA Members. Download the app and use the promo code COPA23 on checkout. Find more details on FlashPass here.
To save time with the customs process entering the US, a customs decal can be purchased for your aircraft. The price is $32.62 USD annually and will need to be renewed each year.
To receive your decal, register here, register your aircraft and your decal. Once the decal arrives attach it near the entrance to your aircraft. The decal can be purchased on arrival to the US, however ordering in advance will save time and the decal will usually arrive in a few days.
For flights into the US, you will need to carry the following documents. Please note that all the documentation listed for the pilot, the crew, and all passengers, should be current and original with no copies.
- Pilot Document/Licence/Certificate
- Medical Certificate (CAT 4 not recognised in US).
- Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Certificate (ROC-A)
- Visa Document if required.
- If applicable, a notarized letter authorizing children to travel from non-present parent or parents.
- If the aircraft is registered to another person or company, it is recommended you carry a notarized letter authorizing the use of the aircraft.
- US Customs and Immigration 6059B form (found here). Confirm with your CBP Agent whether this is required before your departure.
Along with personal documentation, you will be required to carry the following for your aircraft:
- Registration Certificate (temporary certificate not acceptable)
- Airworthiness Certificate
- Operating limitations including the Standardized Validation of a Special Airworthiness Certificate (for operation in Canada), or any Special Flight Authorizations (for operation in US)
- Aircraft Weight and Balance Information
- Radio Station License
- Proof of Liability Insurance
- TSA waiver if not equipped with Mode C Transponder or Two Way Radio. ADAPT if equipped with Mode C transponder but no ADS-B Out. Note, ADS-B is only required in airspace that requires its equipage, more information can be found here.
- If additional fuel tanks have been added in passenger seat or baggage compartment, a FAA Form 337 or STC is required.
- U.S. Customs Service Decal (See Above)
The following equipment is required for flights into the US:
- Appropriate Charts, Canada Flight Supplement, FAA Airport/Facility Directory, AIM
- Mode C Transponder
- Two-way radio
- ELT 121.5 MHz or 406MHz
- Survival Equipment that is appropriate for the terrain and the season.
- A fire extinguisher, mandatory in Canada
- ADS-B Out (In airspace that requires its equipage, more information here)
NON-RADIO AND MODE C TRANSPONDER AIRCRAFT For aircraft not equipped with a two-way radio or a Mode C transponder entering the US, a waiver is required. A waiver can be applied for here. An account is required to apply for the waiver which can take up to 5 days for approval, with the waiver itself requiring 7 additional days for approval.
NON-ADS-B EQUIPPED AIRCRAFT For aircraft equipped with a Mode C transponder but not ADS-B Out, the FAA’s ADS-B Deviation Authorization Pre-flight Tool, or ADAPT, can be used to submit an authorisation request for approval for non-ADS-B aircraft to operate in ADS-B mandatory airspace. This can be accessed here, with further information found here. Submit your authorization request no more than 24 hours and no less than one hour before your intended departure time.
FLYING (BACK) TO CANADA
- File and submit an eAPIS manifest. If not departing from an exit airport, file closest airport of exit.
- Report planned ETA to CANPASS (1-888-226-7277) between 2 and 48 hours before arrival. If ETA changes beyond +/- 15 minutes, call to update. Call CANPASS on ground in aircraft. If calling again press 3 to avoid holding.
- Once you file your eAPIS Notice of Departure and you receive the confirmation email, you’re free to depart from the U.S. without further notification to US CBP.
- File Flight Plan with US FIC, call 1-800-WXBRIEF for weather briefing.
- Open flight plan, ensuring border crossing time is included.
- Fly direct to Airport of Entry in Canada.
- On landing call 1-888-226-7277 before exiting aircraft, stating arrival. If no CBSA agent arrives, wait until time agreed, call CANPASS number and receive clearance number. Make note of clearance number and initials or badge number of CBSA agent that you spoke to for future reference.
- Ensure flight plan is closed.