All pilots flying across the U.S. border are required to use eAPIS — CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System. AOPA Foundation's Air Safety Institute has developed a free online tutorial: “Understanding eAPIS - A Pilot’s Guide to Online Customs Reporting.”
The pilot will need to contact CANPASS by phone (888) 226-7277 or (204) 983-3500, prior to takeoff in the 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.
>> Exception: If you take off from a U.S. airport, overfly Canada without landing, and land at a U.S. airport, eAPIS is not required.
Alaska, of course, is not an international destination for a U.S. citizen flying there from the “Lower 48;” however, those portions of the flight that overfly or land in Canada must comply with Canadian regulations. As a result, we have divided the information below into two sections: one for flights that will land in Canada enroute to Alaska, and the other for flights that will depart from a U.S. airport, overfly Canada without landing, and land at a U.S. airport.
The pilot in command must have a current:
All U.S. registered aircraft must have:
The amount and types of coverage are based on the aircraft’s gross takeoff weight as shown below:
Frequently asked questions regarding Canadian liability insurance can be found here.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires
All aircraft must make their first landing at a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) airport of entry.
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, your passengers, your flight, and your 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.
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. 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.
The Canadian government now charges U.S.-registered aircraft for ATC services based on the aircraft certified gross weight. The current fee is $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.