Answers for Pilots

Think Canada

July 1, 2004

Flying here is similar — but different

Yearning for your first international flight? Think Canada, where flight rules are similar to those in the United States. But don't think the flight planning will be a breeze, say AOPA's technical specialists.

"Realize that you're going into a foreign country — you're going to be subject to aviation regulations and other requirements of that country, and in many cases they are different from the U.S. FAA regulations," says Larry Barnhart, AOPA technical specialist. Differences include proof of citizenship, pilot credentials, notification to Canada and U.S. Customs, and aircraft documentation.

The AOPA/COPA Guide to Cross-Border Operations offers tips on your sojourn to Canada that will whet your appetite for more exotic flights:

  • Proof of citizenship. Current passport or certified copy of birth certificate required for everyone onboard.
  • Pilot credentials. Must have pilot certificate, medical certificate, and restricted radio telephone operators permit (form is online).
  • Aircraft documentation. Standard airworthiness certificate, registration certificate (no temporaries or pink slips), operating limitations, and weight and balance limitations required. Aircraft FCC Radio Station License also required.
  • Aeronautical charts. The overlap of U.S. charts notwithstanding, pilots must have Canadian charts for their flights. A list of required charts is included in the brochure.
  • Customs notification. You must provide notification of your plans to Canadian and U.S. customs when crossing the border and landing in either country. Barnhart says, "A lot of pilots don't realize they have to call Canadian customs. They must call before they leave the United States and say I'll be in such-and-such a Canadian airport at 2 in the afternoon."

These are just a few of the requirements listed in the brochure; taking the requirements seriously may help prevent what happened to one pilot who contacted AOPA this spring. His wife had been arrested for lacking proof of citizenship and the pilot had failed to notify Canadian customs of his arrival, resulting in the seizure of his aircraft. "It took two days to get the mess sorted out, and his wife and aircraft released so they could continue," Barnhart says.

It's peak time for U.S. pilots to turn to Canada for adventure. For the first-timer, Canada's a good choice — that is, if you plan like you're making the international flight that you are.

Membership Q&A

Answers to frequently asked questions about your AOPA membership

Q: I'm a new student pilot who has joined AOPA. How can AOPA assist me while I work toward my certificate?

A: Our "Learn To Fly"package will help you plan and organize the best way to get started with your flight training. Call our Pilot Information Center to talk about your training with our staff of pilots and CFIs. You also have the option to add AOPA Flight Training magazine to your AOPA membership for $18 a year, or opt to receive it instead of AOPA Pilot magazine until you get your private pilot certificate. Take a look at products and services such as renters insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency and AOPA's Legal Services Plan to help protect your investment in flying.

Q: What is the benefit of paying for my membership through AOPA's Automatic Annual Renewal Program?

A: You'll save $4 your first year for enrolling, and if you use the AOPA credit card you'll save $2 each year after that. And you won't receive all those renewal notices, which saves AOPA money that we can use to keep dues low and to invest in programs that benefit you and general aviation. Your credit card is billed in the month your membership expires, making renewal simple for you!

Q: What are AOPA Member Products and how do they benefit AOPA and general aviation?

A: Your AOPA membership gives you access to a wide array of quality services, products, and special discounts from quality providers for your financial, insurance, and pilot needs. These products are designed for pilots and endorsed by AOPA. With the buying power of more than 400,000 members, AOPA can offer great values to you. When you use AOPA Member Products, you also help AOPA strengthen its impact on general aviation. This enables AOPA to fund special GA initiatives and offer additional valuable benefits to our members.

Member Services contact information

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AOPA Web resources

The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association