It’s been almost one and a half years since pilots started using the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) for international flights, and Customs and Border Protection officials have decided it’s time to remove the training wheels. The agency had been lenient when it came to minor violations using the system, reaching and educating pilots, but not anymore.
Customs has notified AOPA that it will soon issue its first penalty against a pilot. The agency also informed AOPA that it will start issuing penalties on a monthly basis. Previously, customs would send a warning letter to pilots who had violated eAPIS procedures.
The penalty for the first violation is a $5,000 fine, while each subsequent violation carries a $10,000 fine.
Since May 18, 2009, pilots flying internationally have had to electronically submit a passenger list (manifest) and arrival/departure notification at least 60 minutes prior to leaving or entering the United States. This summer, customs released enhancements to eAPIS to make it easier to file the notifications. Pilots can now save up to 10 manifests indefinitely, and eAPIS will automatically save the latest five manifests for 30 days.