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CBP International Flight Planning and Manifesting now Mandatory

May 21, 2009 —As of Monday, May 18, general aviation pilots entering or departing the United States must now comply with the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) border crossing requirements of the “Advance Information on Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States” rule.  CBP now requires all general aviation pilots flying into or out of the U. S. to enter their flight and manifest information into an electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) system or through an authorized third-party vendor.

EAA understands the challenges of using this program for international flights.  EAA has also developed a kneeboard sized information sheet for easy in-flight reference.

The following information provides a better understanding of the eAPIS system.

 For international flights leaving the U.S.:

  • U.S. pilots must now submit aircraft, crewmember, and passenger information through the CBP eAPIS system at least one hour (60 minutes) before planned flight departure.  Approval must be received from CBP (sent via e-mail) prior to takeoff.
  • Foreign pilots must now submit aircraft, crewmember, and passenger information through the CBP eAPIS system at least one hour (60 minutes) before planned departure.  Approval must be received from CBP (sent via e-mail) prior to takeoff.
  • Aircraft, regardless of country of registration, not equipped with either a transponder or radio equipment must submit the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) International Waiver Request at least seven working days prior to crossing any U.S. border.

For international flights arriving into the U.S.:

  • U.S. pilots must now submit aircraft, crewmember, and passenger information through the CBP eAPIS system at least one hour (60 minutes) before planned flight departure.  Approval must be received from CBP (sent via e-mail) prior to takeoff.
  • Foreign pilots must now submit aircraft, crewmember, and passenger information through the CBP eAPIS system at least one hour (60 minutes) before planned flight departure.  Approval must be received from CBP (sent via e-mail) prior to takeoff.
  • In addition, residents of countries other than the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas, Mexico, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and the British Virgin Islands must also submit a TSA International Waiver Request at least seven working days prior to their planned arrival date.  
  • Aircraft, regardless of country of registration, not equipped with either a transponder or radio equipment must submit the TSA waiver request at least seven working days prior to crossing any U.S. border.  

Pilots overflying (not landing) the U.S. or Canada do not need to file the CBP eAPIS forms.  However, if the aircraft is not equipped with either a transponder or a radio, the TSA waiver request is required.

Neither security system allows for a completed form to be printed when you finish the application process.Accordingly, EAA recommends that you print out each completed webpage of a form before clicking to move on to the next page.  That way, you’ll at least have the information at your fingertips should you need it again.

Neither the CBP eAPIS nor the TSA International Wavier pages let you practice on their official sites.  However, you may familiarize yourself by plugging your information into the web application forms and exiting the webpage without completing the process and clicking on the submit button.

Your address on your pilot certificate must match the address you provide on the form.  If it is not up-to-date, or if you have a paper certificate, or if your certificate does not have the “English proficient” statement on it, you should contact the FAA for a new certificate.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) International Waiver requirements.

This program was created after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to aviation security concerns.   It is currently based on FAA NOTAM 8/3576.

Be aware of the following:

  • The NOTAM applies to all aircraft with a maximum certified takeoff gross weight of 100,309 pounds or less.  The 100,309 pounds is the international standard for large aircraft.
  • The requirements do not apply to aircraft registered in and flown by pilots who are residents of the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas, Mexico, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.  However, a TSA waiver is required of these aircraft if the aircraft is not equipped with a radio (to maintain two-way radio communications with ATC), the aircraft is not equipped with a transponder (to squawk an assigned border crossing ATC assigned transponder code), and/or  the aircraft lands in any country other than those listed above while en route to the U.S.
  • All aircraft entering the U.S. must be on a flight plan, in contact with ATC, and squawking their assigned transponder code.

All other pilots and aircraft must complete an electronic TSA International Waiver Request to fly into the U.S.  You must remember to plan ahead.   The TSA waiver approval process takes up to seven working days to complete.  The TSA International Waiver application introduction website does not provide any information concerning what pilot, passenger, flight route, or aircraft information is required to complete the application process.  It also contains outdated information.  As such, there have been several instances of TSA calling the applicant to obtain additional information.  If that is the case, at a minimum, you will need pilot and passenger personal contact and passport information, aircraft type and registration information, and proposed flight route, including the names and identifiers of all airports where you may land.

In order to begin the TSA international waiver application process:

  • Visit the TSA General Aviation Airspace waiver web page.        
  • Click on the Obtaining & Submitting / Forms link.
  • In the Application block, click on FAA/TSA Airspace Access Program link.  Then either log into the system or register as a new user.  The initial registration process is a fairly easy process, and you will receive your confirmation/approval e-mail from TSA within a very short period of time.
  • After login, read the basic instruction webpage (a few bullet points). Next, click on New Request at the top of the page.
  • Select International from the selection list, then click on Start New Waiver.
  • Fill out the required information * on each page – five pages in total.  The individual pages are: Proponent (Owner/operator of the aircraft); Itinerary; Aircraft; Manifest; and Security Statement.
  • After competing all the forms, click on Process at the bottom of the Security Statement page to submit your waiver application.
  • Your approval will be returned via e-mail or this website.

This webpage also permits you to search your existing and/or pending waiver applications.  On the Summary page you can find your approval authorization number or denial information (usually due to TSA’s request for more information).

EAA is not aware of any method other than returning to the website for updating itinerary, aircraft, or manifest information.

In summary: If you are a resident from a country other than those listed above, you must submit an application for a TSA International Waiver and if your aircraft has neither a communications radio nor a transponder, regardless of what country your reside in, you must submit an application for a TSA International Waiver.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS)

This program was created by CBP and became effective on May 18, 2009.  It is applicable to ALL flights entering or departing the U.S. There are no exceptions.

You will be required to identify the CBP airport port of entry — your first point of landing in the U.S.

Unlike the TSA International Waiver program, the CBP eAPIS webpage contains a wealth of information to ensure your entry into the CBP eAPIS world is as simple and painless as possible.

    • For starters, EAA recommends that you read the following CBP documents:

Note:  If you’re a member of AOPA, the AOPA safety Foundation created its own version of the eAPIS tutorial.  Both are equal in their ability to inform you of the CBP security application requirements.

Now that you’ve completed the above self-education steps, you are ready to proceed with the CBP eAPIS application process.

  • The first part of the process is to enter the CBP eAPIS website and create your own Sender ID and Password by selecting Enroll in the New eAPIS Users block.  Although creating a password is a bit tricky because of CBP requirements to use symbols, numbers, and characters as a part of the password, this is otherwise a relatively easy process.
  • Once the initial enrollment is finished, CBP will send a reply e-mail to you confirming that you have successfully enrolled in the CBP eAPIS program.  You should get this e-mail within hours of completing the enrollment.
  • KEY – your confirmation e-mail will contain an Activation Code. You will have 30-days from the date on the e-mail in which to log into the eAPIS system and activate your account.  Once you do that, your account is good until you elect to change it.

Once you’ve activated your account, you may return to the CBP eAPIS website at any time to submit departure, arrival, or updated information.

Here are a few lessons learned from EAA members who bravely tried the CBP eAPIS during its early development stages:

  • The times entered are for arrival times at the airports listed on your itinerary, not border crossing times.
  • If you are departing a U.S. airport and overflying Canada to reach another U.S. airport, you do not need to compete the CBP eAPIS forms.
  • Adjusting times en route due to weather, maintenance, or other in-flight concerns:
    • If you will be arriving more than one hour late at your CBP airport port of entry, you should radio FAA Flight Service and ask them to advise CBP of your new expected arrival time.  If you haven’t taken off yet, simply call your CBP airport port of entry and provide them with your revised information.
    • If the delay is more than one calendar day, you should return to the CBP eAPIS computer system and update your information there.
    • If you are forced to divert to another CBP port of entry due to weather, maintenance, etc., then call FAA Flight Service and ask them to relay your new arrival information to the CBP at the new airport.
    • If you are forced to divert to another airport and it is not a CBP airport port of entry, call FAA Flight Service and ask them to relay your situation to the CBP at your original port of entry.  Then, upon landing, personally call them.  Expect to stay on the ground at that airport until a CBP officer reaches you.  
  • The eAPIS system will capture pilot and other crew information for future use.  CBP is working to capture passenger information in order to allow you to simply select your passengers from a drop down box.
  • CBP acknowledges that at times the eAPIS system will be overwhelmed and may time out during your use of it.  They ask that you retry entering your information within 30 minutes.
  • EAA strongly recommends you submit both legs of your flight (inbound and outbound) at the same time.  If you’re at a remote site that does not have computer access, then you’ll be able to call your designated CBP airport port of entry to provide any updates.  Just make sure you take their phone number with you.
  • Expect an updated CBP eAPIS system with many website improvements by December 31, 2009.  Anticipated changes will include a “turn-around” button.  After completing your first flight leg in the eAPIS system, you’ll be able to click on this button and it will reverse your flight routing – then allow you to make changes without your having to go through the entire eAPIS process.
  • If you experience problems with the CBP eAPIS system, please contact EAA 888-322-4636 or info@eaa.org or the closest CBP airport port of entry, or CBP headquarters at 281-230-4642.

 

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