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US Canada Border Crossing For Amateur-Built Aircraft

Special Flight Authorization/Standardized Validation

The FAA and Transport Canada issued a revised procedure for flying amateur-built aircraft between the USA and Canada. It's a very simple procedure that can be accomplished through these websites:

For Canadian pilots flying into US airspace:
Download the Special Flight Authorization found at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/ultralights/sfa/
If you do not have web access, call AFS 800 at (202) 267-8212 between the hours of 0700 and 1600 EST, Monday through Friday.

For US pilots flying into Canadian airspace:
Download the Standardized Validation found at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/ultralights/sfa/
If you do not have web access, call AFS 800 at (202) 267-8212 between the hours of 0700 and 1600 EST, Monday through Friday.

Flight Plan Required

You must file either a VFR or an IFR flight plan when crossing the border in either direction. You may be fined if you do not file a flight plan. Also, it is very important to check current NOTAM's for border crossing requirements.


Canadian Customs information is available online at http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-e.html or telephone CANPASS AT 1-888-226-7277. You must contact CANPASS between 2 and 48 hours of your arrival in Canada, and give them the information they require.

US Customs info can be found online at http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/ Unlike the Canadian CANPASS system, there is no central centralized customs clearing number in the US. The best US Customs info for pilots can be found in the US Customs Service book "Guide For Private Flyers". This publication is available via the US Customs web site. Pilots will need to contact the US Customs office at their intended port of entry between 2 and 48 hours of their arrival. Upon arrival at the port of entry, do not leave your aircraft until the Customs agents meet you. You may be asked for a passport or birth certificate.

You must also have an annual user fee decal for flights into the US. The cost is $25. This allows unlimited border crossings within the calendar year. The Customs agent will collect this fee at the time of your entry into the US. You can pay the fee in advance by mailing a completed form, the Annual User Fee Decal Request-- Aircraft (CBP Form 339-A, available via the US Customs web site), with a $25 payment in the form of a check (personal, cashiers, or travelers) or money order made payable to Customs and Border Protection, to:

Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs Service
Decal Program Administrator
P.O. Box 382030
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-8030

Registration Marks

The six inch fuselage or tail numbers and 20 inch under wing numbers on Canadian aircraft are acceptable in the US. US aircraft having smaller 2" to 3" numbers must temporarily affix 12" numbers when entering any ADIZ or DEWIZ, but 2-3" numbers are acceptable for crossing the Canadian border. Check your chart to determine if you will penetrate an ADIZ or DEWIZ during your flight.

Navigation and Altitudes

GPS is suggested, as LORAN coverage ceases 130 miles southeast of Fairbanks. VOR minimum altitudes can run from 9000’ to as high as 15,000’. ADF minimum en route altitudes can be as much as 5000’ lower on the same route. This is a significant factor when the freezing level is hovering around 7000’. Many of the instrument approaches require DME.

In Canada both VFR and IFR altitude rules are the same as US rules. VFR cruising altitudes are as follows: On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, fly any odd thousand feet MSL altitude plus 500 feet. On a magnetic course of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, fly any even thousand feet MSL altitude plus 500 feet.

Emergency frequency is 121.5 in both the US and Canada.


Sportys Inc has both US & Canadian charts, as well as instrument procedures.

Tel: 800-543-8633

An online source for US charts is http://www.vrotate.com/

Canadian charts:

Charts are not for sale anywhere en route; they must be obtained before departure.

Aeronautical Publications
Sales and Distribution Unit
P.O. Box 9840, Station T
Ottawa ON K1G 6S8

An online source for Canadian charts is http://www.maptown.com/canadianaeronautical/

Search and Rescue Facilities

In the event that search and rescue facilities are needed in the United States or Alaska, contact CAP Headquarters in Alabama, (205) 293-5371. In Canada, SAR is usually initiated when a flight plan has not been closed. This is accomplished by NAV CANADA through its’ network of Flight Information Centers and Flight Service Stations. If you do not file a flight plan, but friends and relatives know of your flight, they will need to contact the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police or Provincial Police.

Survival Gear

Both Alaska and Canada require survival equipment. In Canada, the regulations indicate that no person shall operate an aircraft over land unless there is carried on board survival equipment. The survival gear must be sufficient for: the survival on the ground of each person on board, given the geographical area, the season of the year and anticipated seasonal climatic variations, that provides the means for starting a fire, providing shelter, providing or purifying water and visually signaling distress.


Note: Any U.S. pilot flying into foreign countries must have a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit. The application form for this (FCC form 605 (http://www.fcc.gov/formpage.html#605) is available from the Washington FCC office, (717) 337-1431. Although this license is not required for U.S. citizens flying within the continental U.S., anytime you cross a foreign border, it is necessary to have it.

Insurance Required for Canada

Before you leave for Canada, it would be beneficial to check with your insurance agent to make sure your coverage extends to Canada. A private aircraft visiting Canada has minimum liability insurance required. You are required to show evidence of insurance. Minimum limits are:

$300,000 per passenger on aircraft of more than 5,000 pound gross take-off weight. If aircraft weighs less than 5,000 gross take-off weight, there is no $300,000 per passenger requirement.

Public Liability (bodily injury and property damage, excluding passengers)

2,300 lb. or less


2,301 through 5,000 lb


5,001 through 12,500 lb


12,501 through 75,000 lb


Credit Cards

Major US credit cards are useable in Canada and the United States. Gasoline is sold by the Litre in Canada. 1 US gallon equals 3.785 litres.

Tourism Sources
Canadian Tourism Information
Two booklets published by Transport Canada may be of interest to US pilots planning to visit Canada. Both are free from:
Aeronautical Information Services
Transport Canada AANDHD
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0N8
800-305-2059 or 613-991-9973
They are: TP 771E, Air Tourist Information in Canada and TP 2168E, Flying the Alaska Highway in Canada. Also available free of charge is TP 368OE, A List of Civil Aviation Publications.

The Canadian Owners and Pilot’s Association (COPA) can provide assistance and in particular, has tourist information on places to visit and events of interest. Contact COPA via telephone: 613-236-4901 for assistance.

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