Eddie Sez:

You've got no choice in the matter anymore, you have to participate in the Electronic Advanced Passenger Information System (eAPIS). An international flight planning service can make this easy for you, but you can do it yourself. The system the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gives you through Customs & Border Protection (CBP) is fair, at best, but it does work. It won't remember your passengers or crew, but it remembers you. Several flight planning services that you are probably already using can automate things and make the entire process a bit less painful.

Update: Mexico now requires electronic notification of arrival. The data must be sent within 30 minutes of departure for all flight longer than 1 hour; or within 30 minutes of when the aircraft door is closed for shorter flights.

Update: Caricom (Caribbean Community) countries require private flights submit passenger information no later than 30 minutes prior to takeoff.


The Legal Authority

[NPRM 19 CFR 122, ¶I.A.]

[19 CFR 122, §122.0] Applicability. The regulations in this part relate to the entry and clearance of aircraft and the transportation of persons and cargo by aircraft, and are applicable to all air commerce.


Definitions

[19 CFR 122, §122.1]


Arrival Process

Private Aircraft (Regulatory)

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(b)(1)] The private aircraft pilot is responsible for ensuring the notice of arrival and manifest information regarding each individual onboard the aircraft are transmitted to CBP. The pilot is responsible for the submission, accuracy, correctness, timeliness, and completeness of the submitted information, but may authorize another party to submit the information on their behalf. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(7) of this section, all data must be transmitted to CBP by means of an electronic data interchange system approved by CBP and must set forth the information specified in this section. All data pertaining to the notice of arrival for the aircraft and the manifest data regarding each individual onboard the aircraft must be transmitted at the same time via an electronic data interchange system approved by CBP.

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(b)(2)] The private aircraft pilot is responsible for ensuring that the information [. . .] of this section is transmitted to CBP:

  1. For flights originally destined for the United States, any time prior to departure of the aircraft, but no later than 60 minutes prior to departure of the aircraft from the foreign port or place; or

  2. For flights not originally destined to the United States, but diverted to a U.S. port due to an emergency, no later than 30 minutes prior to arrival; in cases of non-compliance, CBP will take into consideration that the carrier was not equipped to make the transmission and the circumstances of the emergency situation.

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(b)(6)] Prior to departure from the foreign port or place, the pilot of a private aircraft must receive a message from DHS approving landing within the United States, and follow any instructions contained therein prior to departure. Once DHS has approved departure, and the pilot has executed all instructions issued by DHS, the aircraft is free to depart with the intent of landing at the designated U.S. port of entry.

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(b)(7)] The private aircraft pilot is obligated to make necessary changes to the arrival manifest after transmission of the manifest to CBP. If changes to an already transmitted manifest are necessary, an updated and amended manifest must be resubmitted to CBP. Only amendments regarding flight cancellation, expected time of arrival (ETA) or changes in arrival location, to an already transmitted manifest may be submitted telephonically, by radio, or through existing processes and procedures. On a limited case-by-case basis, CBP may permit a pilot to submit or update notice of arrival and arrival/departure manifest information telephonically when unforeseen circumstances preclude submission of the information via eAPIS. Under such circumstances, CBP will manually enter the notice of arrival and arrival/departure manifest information provided by the pilot and the pilot is required to wait for CBP screening and approval to depart. Changes in ETA and arrival location must be coordinated with CBP at the new arrival location to ensure that resources are available to inspect the arriving aircraft. If a subsequent manifest is submitted less than 60 minutes prior to departure to the United States, the private aircraft pilot must receive approval from CBP for the amended manifest containing added passenger information and/or changes to information that were submitted regarding the aircraft and all individuals onboard the aircraft, before the aircraft is allowed to depart the foreign location, or the aircraft may be, as appropriate, diverted from arriving in the United States, or denied permission to land in the United States. If a subsequent, amended manifest is submitted by the pilot, any approval to depart the foreign port or location previously granted by CBP as a result of the original manifest's submission is invalid.

The process is easier than it seems and is explained in English, below..

Commercial Aircraft (Regulatory)

[19 CFR 122, §122.49a(b)(1)(i)] Basic requirement. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, an appropriate official of each commercial aircraft (carrier) arriving in the United States from any place outside the United States must transmit to the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS; referred to in this section as the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) system), the electronic data interchange system approved by CBP for such transmissions, an electronic passenger arrival manifest covering all passengers checked in for the flight. A passenger manifest must be transmitted separately from a crew member manifest required under §122.49b if transmission is in U.S. EDIFACT format. The passenger manifest must be transmitted to the CBP system at the place and time specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, in the manner set forth under paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section.

[19 CFR 122, §122.49a(b)(2)] Place and time for submission. The appropriate official [ . . . ] must transmit the arrival manifest or manifest data [ . . . ] to the CBP system (CBP Data Center, CBP Headquarters), in accordance with the following:

  1. For manifests transmitted under paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(A) or (B) of this section, no later than 30 minutes prior to the securing of the aircraft;

  2. For manifest information transmitted under paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(C) of this section, no later than the securing of the aircraft;

  3. For flights not originally destined to the United States but diverted to a U.S. port due to an emergency, no later than 30 minutes prior to arrival; in cases of non-compliance, CBP will take into consideration whether the carrier was equipped to make the transmission and the circumstances of the emergency situation; and

  4. For an aircraft operating as an air ambulance in service of a medical emergency, no later than 30 minutes prior to arrival; in cases of non-compliance, CBP will take into consideration whether the carrier was equipped to make the transmission and the circumstances of the emergency situation.

The various mysterious paragraphs and bracketed ellipses all refer to minutiae about batch reporting and the like. The bottom line is you have to submit a crew and passenger manifest and CBP has a few extra steps to follow before approving your arrival. Once again this is broken down into English, as follows . . .

Arrival Process (In English)


Departure Process

Private Aircraft (Regulatory)

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(c)(1)] The private aircraft pilot is responsible for ensuring that information regarding private aircraft departing the United States, and manifest data for all individuals onboard the aircraft is timely transmitted to CBP. The pilot is responsible for the accuracy, correctness, timeliness, and completeness of the submitted information, but may authorize another party to submit the information on their behalf. Data must be transmitted to CBP by means of an electronic data interchange system approved by CBP, and must set forth the information specified [ . . .] All data pertaining to the aircraft, and all individuals onboard the aircraft must be transmitted at the same time. On a limited case-by-case basis, CBP may permit a pilot to submit or update notice of arrival and arrival/departure manifest information telephonically to CBP when unforeseen circumstances preclude submission of the information via eAPIS. Under such circumstances, CBP will manually enter the notice of arrival and arrival/departure manifest information provided by the pilot and the pilot is required to wait for CBP screening and approval to depart.

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(c)(2)] The private aircraft pilot must transmit the electronic data required [in this] section to CBP any time prior to departing the United States, but no later than 60 minutes prior to departing the United States.

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(c)(5)] Prior to departure for a foreign port or place, the pilot of a private aircraft must receive a message from DHS approving departure from the United States and follow any instructions contained therein. Once DHS has approved departure, and the pilot has executed all instructions issued by DHS, the aircraft is free to depart.

[19 CFR 122, §122.22(c)(6)] If any of the data elements change after the manifest is transmitted, the private aircraft pilot must update the manifest and resubmit the amended manifest to CBP. Only amendments regarding flight cancellation, expected time of departure or changes in departure location, to an already transmitted manifest may be submitted telephonically, by radio, or through existing processes and procedures. If an amended manifest is submitted less than 60 minutes prior to departure, the private aircraft pilot must receive approval from CBP for the amended manifest containing added passenger information and/or changes to information that were submitted regarding the aircraft before the aircraft is allowed to depart the U.S. location, or the aircraft may be denied clearance to depart from the United States. If a subsequent amended manifest is submitted by the pilot, any clearance previously granted by CBP as a result of the original manifest's submission is invalid.

The process is easier than it seems and is explained in English, below..

Commercial Aircraft (Regulatory)

[19 CFR 122, §122.75a(b)(1)(i)] Basic requirement. Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, an appropriate official of each commercial aircraft (carrier) departing from the United States en route to any port or place outside the United States must transmit to the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS; referred to in this section as the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) system), the electronic data interchange system approved by CBP for such transmissions, an electronic passenger departure manifest covering all passengers checked in for the flight. A passenger manifest must be transmitted separately from a crew member manifest required under §122.75b if transmission is in U.S. EDIFACT format. The passenger manifest must be transmitted to the CBP system at the place and time specified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, in the manner set forth under paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section.

[19 CFR 122, §122.75a(b)(2)] The appropriate official specified in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section (carrier) must transmit the departure manifest or manifest data as required under paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section to the CBP system (CBP Data Center, CBP Headquarters), in accordance with the following:

  1. For manifests transmitted under paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section, no later than 30 minutes prior to the securing of the aircraft;

  2. For manifest information transmitted under paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(C) of this section, no later than the securing of the aircraft; and

  3. For an aircraft operating as an air ambulance in service of a medical emergency, no later than 30 minutes after departure.

The various mysterious paragraphs and bracketed ellipses all refer to minutiae about batch reporting and the like. The bottom line is you have to submit a crew and passenger manifest and CBP has a few extra steps to follow before approving your arrival. Once again this is broken down into English, as follows . . .

Departure Process (In English)


Part 135 Caveat

The process for eAPIS under 14 CFR 135 is similar to 14 CFR 91 but the system goes through extra steps that can create a few problems:


The Actual Mechanics

The eAPIS system is accessed through https://eapis.cbp.dhs.gov.

You will need to enroll in the system and learn through trial and error. There used to be an online tutorial, in fact the website still makes reference to it. But it is not there any more.


Book Notes

Portions of this page can be found in the book International Flight Operations, Part VIII, Chapter 17.


References

19 CFR 122, Air Commerce Regulations

eAPIS, Customs & Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM), 19 CFR 122, Federal Register, Vol. 73, No 223, November 18, 2008.