There are three very good rules when it comes to dealing with the customs officials of another country:
In fact, these rules also apply to dealing with the customs officials of your own country too. In the case of the United States, it is often difficult to find the information you need because the rules are always changing and links to their needed spots on their websites seldom stay put for more than a year. The best you can do is to do your best, answer their questions honestly, and don't get upset.
You will have to be well versed in Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ).
As with many things in international travel, your best source is the host nation's Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). You might find everything you need in the "State Pages" of your Jeppesen JeppFD application, provided you have the correct subscriptions. Having a handler with "boots on the ground" — local personnel well versed in the country's policies, can be invaluable.
Everything here is from the references shown below, with a few comments in an alternate color.
You will probably need a passport to enter another country and then to return to United States. The rules are different for each country and can also change depending on the other countries on your itinerary. The rules of Visas can also be different for passengers and crewmembers. You may be surprised to hear that many countries even have rules on how many blank pages must be available in your passport or how many months remain before expiration.
The best way to be certain is to visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html and use the "Learn about your destination" section.
A person who enters the United States under the Visa Waiver Program may not be aware that they cannot depart the country unless the entity providing the transportation is approved under the program. Even as a 14 CFR 91 operator you can be an approved Visa Waiver Program carrier, but even if you aren't and one of your passengers is travelling using the Visa Waiver Program, you need to be smart about it.
More about this: Visa Waiver Program.
Some countries required minors traveling without their parents have notarized travel permission from their legal guardians.
Getting into and out of Canada is fairly easy and it can be even easier if you, everyone on your crew, and all your passengers are enrolled in CANPASS. See: CANPASS.
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. More about this: eAPIS.
Each nation's AIP should have a similar format, though often they do not. If you are a visitor to the United States, you can find our AIP here: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. What you are looking for should be in PART 1 - General (GEN). GEN 1.3 tells you wihat you need to know for customs requirements, passports, visas, manifests, and public health quarantine rules. This is where you should begin your search in any country's AIP.
You can find AIPs for many other countries here: https://gis.icao.int/gallery/ONLINE_AIPs.html.
Provided you have the subscriptions required for the region you are interested in, Jeppesen offers most of what you need in their so-called "State Pages." A few pointers for JeppFD:
The process of getting back into the country has gotten easier, thanks to the proliferation of electrons in the system. Things will go more smoothly if you have eAPIS complete, have your paperwork in order, and be patient with the guy wearing the badge and gun.
As a seasoned international pilot, you know your first point of arrival needs to be a qualified airport of entry. You may have understandably assumed that any airport with the word “international” is so designated. But that isn’t true in the U.S. There are only 58 qualified airports so designated by Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 122.13.
Chances are you will be using a “landing rights” airport. The distinction is somewhat minor except that you need permission to land at a landing rights airport. That permission comes from the appropriate customs officer with acknowledgement of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Public Health Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Agriculture Department. You secure that permission following transmission of an electronic data interchange system known as the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, or eAPIS
You can't depart for the United States unless you have your eAPIS in order. More about this: eAPIS.
Private aircraft arriving from certain areas south of the U.S. must also furnish a notice of intended arrival to the Cus- toms service at the nearest designated airport to the point of first border or coastline crossing. They must then land at this airport for inspection, unless they have an “SBOE,” or Southern Border Overflight Exemption. The arrival areas include:
(a) The U.S./Mexican border or the Pacific Coast from a foreign place in the Western Hemisphere south of 33 deg. north latitude.
(b) The Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coasts from a foreign place in the West- ern Hemisphere south of 30 deg. north latitude, from any place in Mexico, or from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The requirement to land, the details in the notice to Customs, and the pro- cess to obtain an exemption is covered in the U.S. AIP, Section GEN 1.2, Para- graph 4. The list of designated airports is given in Paragraph 5. Further restrictions for flight to and from Cuba are given in Paragraph 7.
More about this: Southern Border Overflight Exemption (SBOE).
Once you’ve found a suitable airport to enter the U.S. and have approval to do that, the next step is often called “CIQ,” customs, immigration and quarantine. Perhaps ICQ would be better, because you cannot understand the CQ without covering the “I” first.
The “I” of CIQ is immigration and governs the people you attempt to bring into or out of the country. Section GEN 1.3 of the U.S. AIP makes it clear that a valid passport is always required and that a visa is almost always required, but it leaves you guessing about some of the details of those requirements. Fortunately, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) website provides an excellent guide, called the “Carrier Information Guide: United States Documentary Requirements for Travel.” You can download the guide at: https://www. cbp.gov/document/guides/carrier-information-guide-english.
The guide notes that passports must be valid for the duration of the stay, but for a few countries an additional six months of validity is needed. It also states that a visa is required except for some exempted visitors, including those enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program allows citizens of 38 countries to bypass the need for a visa when travelling on a signatory car- rier after having been approved by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
More about this: Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Foreign visitors to the U.S. arriving via air or sea no longer need to complete paper Customs and Border Protection Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record or Form I-94W Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Record. Those who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—can access their CBP arrival/departure record information online. More about this: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions.
Once you’ve ensured immigration concerns are met (the “I”), you can next turn to Customs (the “C”). While immigration concerns who enters the country, Customs concerns what they bring with them. The U.S. AIP makes it clear that all incoming passengers are required to complete a Customs declaration, but it provides little help on how to do this. The USCBP does provide an example CBP Declaration Form 6059B with instructions online at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/clearing-cbp/traveler-entry-form.
Declare all articles on this form. For gifts, please indicate the retail value. Use the reverse side of this form if additional space is needed to list the items you will declare.
The U.S. Customs officer will determine duty. Duty will be assessed at the current rate on the first $1,000 above the exemption.
Read the notice on the reverse side of the form.
Sign the form and print the date.
Keep the complete form with you and hand it to the CBP inspector when you approach the Customs and Border Protection area.
The question of what you can bring into the country is closely related to what you are prohibited from bringing, which leads us to the “Q” of CIQ. A quick read of the U.S. AIP leads you to believe you cannot bring any meat or meat products, and that you will need permits to bring in most fruits and vegetables. But there are lots of exceptions and there are also lots of additional prohibitions.
More about this: Agriculture Import.
14 CFR 61, Title 14: Aeronautics and Space, Certification: Pilots, Flight Instructors, and Ground Instructors, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation
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