Alaska

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About eAPIS

All pilots flying across the U.S. border are required to use eAPIS — CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System. AOPA Foundation's Air Safety Institute has developed a free online tutorial: “Understanding eAPIS - A Pilot’s Guide to Online Customs Reporting.”

>> Exception: If you take off from a U.S. airport, overfly Canada without landing, and land at a U.S. airport, eAPIS is not required.

Flying to Alaska

Alaska, of course, is not an international destination for a U.S. citizen flying there from the “Lower 48;” however, those portions of the flight that overfly or land in Canada must comply with Canadian regulations. As a result, we have divided the information below into two sections: one for flights that will land in Canada enroute to Alaska, and the other for flights that will depart from a U.S. airport, overfly Canada without landing, and land at a U.S. airport.

Preparing for your flight (if landing in Canada enroute)

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The pilot in command must have a current:

Passengers

  • Each passenger must have a current passport
  • Children traveling with only one parent must have a notarized statement of approval from the absent parent stating the dates of the trip.

Aircraft

All U.S. registered aircraft must have:

  • A standard Airworthiness Certificate
  • A permanent registration certificate (no temporary certificates/pink slips)
  • A radio station license
  • Operating limitations information
  • Weight and Balance information
  • If the aircraft is registered in another person’s or corporation’s name, we recommend you bring a notarized letter authorizing use of the aircraft in Canada.
  • An ID data plate
  • 12-inch registration marks are required if you’re crossing an ADIZ
  • Transponder with Mode C - TSA waivers are still required and mandatory for all international flights for aircraft not equipped with a transponder.
  • Aircraft with fuel tanks installed in the baggage or passenger compartments must have Form 337 on board.
  • Either a 121.5 MHz or 406 MHz ELT
  • Emergency equipment 
  • Verify insurance coverage for flight in Canada. Private aircraft must be covered with liability insurance. Proof of liability coverage needs to be carried onboard. AOPA Insurance Services provides coverage for AOPA members. Contact AOPA Insurance Services at 800-622-AOPA (2672) or 316-942-2223 or email aopainsurance@aopa.org for more information.

The amount and types of coverage are based on the aircraft’s gross takeoff weight as shown below:

  • Up to 2,300 lbs.: $100,000 public liability only.
  • 2,301 to 5,000 lbs.: $500,000 public liability only.
  • 5,001 to 12,500 lbs.: $1,000,000 public liability and $300,000 passenger liability per passenger on board.

Frequently asked questions regarding Canadian liability insurance can be found here.

Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires

  • An annual user fee decal ($27.50)—allow a few weeks for delivery. You can buy decals online.  For decal questions, call (317)-298-1245 or send an email to decals@dhs.gov. You can download a paper application here.
  • eAPIS (CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System)—Pilots who fly internationally are required to provide passenger manifests to CBP when departing from and arriving back in the U.S. Manifests must be filed at least one hour before departing from or arriving in the United States, but pilots can file as far in advance as they wish, giving the option to provide information for the return trip via the Internet before leaving home. AOPA Air Safety Foundation has a free online course, “Understanding eAPIS—A Pilot's Guide to Online Customs Reporting” that guides pilots step-by-step through the online reporting process.  Read answers to frequently asked questions about eAPIS.
  • CANPASS - Do you frequently travel to Canada directly from the United States on a small private aircraft? If so, the CANPASS Private Aircraft program may be helpful. The CANPASS Private Aircraft program makes clearing the border easier for private aircraft carrying no more than 15 people (including the crew) and travelling to Canada from the United States. This program allows members to access more airports and provides expedited clearances for low-risk, pre-screened travelers.
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Preparing for your flight (if overflying Canada)

  • Overflights that originate and end in the United States require that the pilot must file a flight plan, and Canadian regulations must be observed when flying in Canadian airspace. Write “Canada overflight” in the remarks section of the flight plan.
  • If you are overflying Canada—departing from and arriving in the United States with no landing in Canada—no eAPIS manifest is required.
  • 12-inch registration marks are required if you’re crossing an ADIZ.
  • The Canadian government now charges U.S.-registered aircraft for ATC services based on the aircraft certified gross weight. The current fee is $17.00 CAN per quarter for aircraft under 2 metric tons (4,410 lb gross) and $56.75 for aircraft between 2 and 3 metric tons (up to 6,614 lb gross). See the NavCanada Guide for details for aircraft in higher weight classes. Also, weight-based fees for use of the airport terminal may apply at some airports.

Departing the U.S.

  • Pilots crossing the U.S. border into Canada must be in communication with ATC and on a discrete squawk code.
  • All aircraft must be on an activated IFR, VFR, or Defense VFR flight plan if flying through the ADIZ.
  • All aircraft must make their first landing at a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) airport of entry.

Entry into Canada

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All aircraft must make their first landing at a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) airport of entry.

You are required to provide advance notification to CBSA by calling 1-888/CAN-PASS (226-7277). You must provide notification no less than two (2) hours but no more than 48 hours prior to your arrival. A filed and activated flight plan is required for border crossing, and your first landing in Canada must be at an airport of entry. You will be required to provide the customs office with information about yourself, your passengers, your flight, and your airport of entry. After arrival at your airport of entry, if there is no customs officer present, immediately contact the Canadian CANPASS office again at the same number and receive an arrival report number or be advised to await a customs inspection.

Thanks to an agreement between the FAA and Transport Canada, flying an experimental aircraft into Canada is now easier than ever. All that is needed is the document Standardized Validation of a Special Airworthiness Certificate—Experimental, for the Purpose of Operating a United States-Registered Amateur-Built Aircraft in Canadian Airspace which details the restrictions (minor in nature) applicable in Canadian airspace. Download the form and carry it with the aircraft at all times in Canada.

Flight Operations in Canada

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To access weather information and file flight plans while flying in Canada, contact Canadian Flight Service by calling 866/WX-BRIEF (992-7433). This telephone number can only be used within the borders of Canada. More specific flight services and local weather advisories can be obtained by contacting the individual Flight Information Centres within each Canadian province.

For remote areas, take tiedown equipment with you and have your ADF or GPS in good working order. Slot reservations are required for Toronto Pearson International Airport for VFR and IFR aircraft. A Mode C transponder is required when flying into any terminal control area and Class C airspace in Canada. Mode C transponders are also required in some Class D and E airspace, normally associated with some terminal areas and some control zones. Terminal charts (VTAs) and the Canada Flight Supplement provide the details.

Certain rifles and shotguns for sport, competition, or survival and ammunition are permitted in Canada, but be sure you declare them when going through customs. An advance permit is required from Canadian authorities for certain restricted firearms.

The Canadian government now charges U.S.-registered aircraft for ATC services based on the aircraft certified gross weight. The current fee is $17.00 CAN per quarter for aircraft under 2 metric tons (4,410 lb gross) and $56.75 for aircraft between 2 and 3 metric tons (up to 6,614 lb gross). See the NavCanada Guide to Charges for details for aircraft in higher weight classes. Also, weight-based fees for use of the airport terminal may apply at some airports.

Returning to the U.S.

  • Your first landing in the United States must be at an U.S. CBP airport of entry
  • File an eAPIS arrival manifest (if you filed eAPIS reports for both legs of your trip before you left the U.S., you do not have to file, again).
  • File and activate a VFR, IFR, (or Defense VFR flight plan if you’re flying through the Alaska ADIZ).
  • Call U.S. CBP at least one hour and no more than 23 hours before your planned U.S. arrival time.