Customs reaches out to help pilots avoid penalties

Passenger information manifests still generating many errors

December 15, 2010

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has launched a newsletter that it hopes will help general aviation pilots avoid errors, and possible penalties, when completing electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) manifests for international flights.

The December 2010 initial edition of what is expected to be a monthly newsletter addresses differences between eAPIS and APIS information requirements, and notes common errors pilots have made when entering data. The newsletter also directs pilots to online help.

CBP announced the new publication Dec. 14 in a letter sent via e-mail to pilots currently enrolled in the eAPIS system.

“Some pilots are submitting information that is inaccurate, incomplete, invalid, and/or incorrect. And, yes, these types of submissions are subject to penalty case initiation,” said Ralph D. Modisette, CBP’s national APIS account manager, in the letter. He discussed solutions for common errors, and explained how to recognize mandatory information fields when using the electronic system.

“In every case of non-compliance, the pilot will be contacted directly by this office to ensure that both sides of the story are considered before penalty case initiation occurs. Cooperative conversation and immediate, corrective measures go a long way in preventing penalty case initiation,” Modisette wrote.

AOPA reported on Nov. 4 that CBP would begin penalizing pilots for violations, instead of issuing warning letters. The eAPIS system has been in use since May 2009.

CBP requested AOPA’s help in making pilots aware of resources available to assist in the use of eAPIS. Pilots are encouraged to submit questions and suggestions for future topics in the newsletter to AOPA at gasecurity@aopa.org. They will be forwarded to CBP. 

AOPA also has these Frequently Asked Questions about eAPIS and an online tutorial.