Cross border survey imageThe Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) and AOPA are working together to try to make any new Canadian requirements as seamless as possible for pilots crossing the border. In an effort to help shape requirements, COPA has created a survey for Canadian and U.S. pilots to complete regarding how any new requirements might affect their travel across the border.

Take a moment and fill out the survey here.

eAPIS Requirement

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

>> Exception: If you overfly Canada without landing, eAPIS is not required.

Preparing for your Flight


The pilot in command must have a current:


  • 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.


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 if you’re crossing an ADIZ to get into Canada (primarily affects those flying in from Alaska)
  • 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
  • Charts  
  • Verify insurance coverage for flight into 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 email 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

Information 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 You can download a paper application here.
  • eAPIS (CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System) – Effective May 18, 2009 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 Foundation's Air Safety Institute 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.
  • 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 for you! 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 travellers.

Departing the U.S.

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

Entry into Canada

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, passengers, your flight, and 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.


In Canada


Flight Operations in Canada

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. The 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.


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.

Note: 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.

eAPIS is not required for overflights.

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.

Tips, Trips, and Opinions

This section of information offers opinions, tips, and trips from members of AOPA's International Alliance, which is a group of international service providers, some of whom are very familiar with operations in Canada and who can share their information here.

This content reflects the opinions of the providers, including occasional operational tips and experiences. Some of the perspectives expressed here may not reflect AOPA's position, but they bring a valuable viewpoint members should be aware of when traveling internationally. Questions or concerns should be directed to the information providers, whose names are hyperlinked below for easy access.

Tips (and Updates)

The steps to flying to and from Canada by private aircraft are summarized in a checklist developed by the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.

Visit COPA’s Places to Fly where you can select an area of Canada by province and then select airports for information on airport services, accommodations and attractions nearby.

Kevin Psutka
President and CEO
Canadian Owners and Pilots Association
71 Bank St, 7th floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 5N2

Ph: 613-236-4901 X102
Mb: 613-878-4901
Fx: 613-236-8646

Member List: AOPA's International Alliance

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Bahamas Aviator: Bahamas flying and resort information for private pilots.

Bahamas and Caribbean Pilots Guide:  Publish guide books for pilots: The 2014 Bahamas Pilot's Guide and 2014 Caribbean Pilot's Guide.

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.  The official travel site of the Islands of the Bahamas.

Baja Bush Pilots: A membership organization providing information, resources, and escorted flights for private pilots in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association: A membership organization that protects personal aviation and promotes it as a valued, integral and sustainable part of the Canadian Community.

Caribbean Sky Tours: A membership association providing information, resources, and escorted flights to Mexico, Central America, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

Pilot Getaways: Pilot Getaways is the bimonthly travel magazine for pilots and their families, focusing on fun flying to destinations from backcountry strips to exclusive fly-in resorts.