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Border Crossings — Part 2
By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, British Columbia
December 2017 - Aaron Becker’s recent flight into Canada from Minneapolis describing the use of the electronic advance passenger information system (eAPIS) reminded me of any number of conversations with Canadian pilots here on the left coast.
Pilots used to cross the border on many occasions each summer to attend fly-ins and events all over Washington and Oregon. Today, most are very reluctant to use the system as they think it is too complicated and time-consuming. The decal requirement was in place for a number of years before eAPIS came into effect. It is the eAPIS site itself that pilots find to be intimidating and confusing.
Let me say this up front: my first time took all of one morning to unsuccessfully file and an hour the next day to do it properly.
It is important to keep in mind that this system is designed primarily for use by Americans travelling north and not those of us who are headed south. Therefore, the first page is the departure from the U.S. sheet and the second page covers the return to the U.S. It is simple once you remember to file your return to Canada first with the time and the name of the nearest large U.S. airport of departure (not necessarily the actual one that you are departing from) and the Canadian airport for arrival back into Canada. A call to 1-800-CANPASS is required as is a departure flight plan for the day of the flight.
Page 2 is your outbound trip to the U.S. Be prepared with all the pilot and passenger information. You will need license and passport numbers, names, birth dates, and home addresses exactly as they appear on those forms as well as decal number, time of arrival, address while in the U.S., etc. Don’t forget to file the flight plan and make a call to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the airport of arrival to advise them of your ETA.
If you forgot to order your decal, don’t panic or cancel your trip. Place the order for the decal, copy the decal number, and print a copy of the receipt to take with you. U.S. customs will accept it.
One last thing, eAPIS requires that you have a password to access your account, and if you are an occasional user, you will have to reset your password each time. This only takes a moment and you are back into your site. All the information that you used last time is there, and if the trip is the same as last time, you’ll only need to change the dates.
Once all of this is done, you can head out and enjoy your trip to our southern neighbour.
One thing that is important is encouraging pilots to consider that it really is quite simple once you’ve gone through the whole process once. I’ve done an eAPIS filing en route and got the reply within 15 minutes. If the pilots in a local area could go through the eAPIS filing process together just once, they would probably feel a lot more confident about doing it by themselves. —Ed.