The rules for filing notices through the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) when traveling to or from foreign countries have been in effect for almost a year. Now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reminding noncompliant pilots that they could face thousands of dollars in penalties.
Pilots must file manifests through eAPIS (or another approved method) at least 60 minutes prior to departure when arriving in or departing from the United States. CBP has notified AOPA that it has begun issuing “noncompliance notices” to pilots who do not file both the notice of departure and notice of arrival with CBP. The noncompliance notices do not carry a fine, but they warn that not filing passenger manifests according to CBP guidelines could incur a penalty of $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been reviewing APIS departure manifest submissions [which many general aviation pilots submit through eAPIS] for private aircraft. Generally, a large percentage of pilots are submitting both the required arrival and departure APIS manifests[;] however, some pilots are not submitting the departure manifest for the departing flight. CBP will be sending preliminary penalty notices to pilots that have not been compliant with the submission of departure APIS manifests,” the agency wrote to AOPA.
The eAPIS rule was released December 2008, and compliance became mandatory on May 18, 2009. CBP understood that it would take some time for all pilots to become familiar with the requirements and has so far not issued any fines for noncompliance. The notices indicate that the agency is getting serious about enforcement. While AOPA does not agree with the requirement to file a manifest when departing the United States, pilots must understand departure and arrival notices are mandatory and noncompliance could incur penalties.