Preparing for your Flight


Check out this 2-minute video, which gives a great overview on flying to Canada.


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:

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

eAPIS and DHS Decal Requirements

Clearing Canadian and U.S. Customs - what to expect

Going to Canada

  • There is no need to contact U.S. customs on departure - eAPIS filing is sufficient.
  • The pilot will need to contact CANPASS (888-CANPASS or 888-226-7277) by phone prior to takeoff in U.S. and, again, by phone after landing prior to exiting the aircraft. The first call must be made no less than two hours nor more than 40 hours before the border crossing. The pilot will be given an ID number that must be provided upon arrival. Only very rarely are pilots asked to await an official to provide an inspection in Canada.
  • Pilots who frequently travel to Canada directly from the United States on a small private aircraft should apply to enter the CANPASS Private Aircraft program, which makes clearing the border easier for private aircraft carrying no more than 15 people (including the crew) and traveling to Canada from the United States. This program allows members to access more airports and provides expedited clearances for low-risk, pre-screened travelers.

 Returning from Canada

  • The first landing in the U.S. must be at a designated airport of entry with a customs office. These airports are referred to as "Designated International Landing Rights and User Fee" airports. Prior to departure, make direct telephone contact with the customs office at the U.S. destination airport, and notify of ETA at least one hour before and no more than 23 hours before the ETA. (Do not rely on entry of "ADCUS" in the flight plan.)
  • After landing at the U.S. airport, taxi to customs office and wait in or next to the airplane for customs officers to inspect airplane prior to exiting the plane or immediate tie-down area.

ICAO Flight Plan

  • Use of an ICAO flight plan is currently required if the flight will enter international airspace. While an ICAO flight plan and an FAA flight plan are similar in many ways, there are some important differences. Some items are the same on both forms: aircraft ID or tail number; aircraft type, fuel endurance, and number of people on board. New items on the ICAO flight plan include a Wake Turbulence category, and Type of Flight. The biggest change, though, is found in the equipment suffixes box, box 10. The ICAO codes used to denote the type of equipment on board the aircraft are different than the codes used by the FAA. To find out more, please view this short AOPA video.

Canadian Fees

  • Invoices for Canadian fees are mailed later.
  • NAVCAN user fee charge is $72/yr. or $17.85/quarter (CDN$) for use of the ATC system.
  • Landing fees are charged at tower-controlled airports ($24 CDN at Quebec City)


Departing the U.S.

  • Pilots crossing the U.S. 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 approximately $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.

A foreign-registered aircraft is charged on the basis of the first recorded arrival into a Canadian aerodrome or entry into Canadian airspace, excluding flights between two points in the U.S.

eAPIS is not required for Canadian overflights if taking off and landing at U.S. 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).
  • Pilots crossing the U.S. border must be in communication with ATC and on a discrete squawk code. 
  • 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.

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

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

Member List: AOPA's International Alliance

Air Journey: Escorted flying journeys to destinations around the world. Travel in a small group on a pre-arranged itinerary, or customize a trip.

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.