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General Aviation and CBP Processing

For CBP processing, General Aviation (GA) aircraft are comprised of private and non-scheduled, commercial aircraft.

“Private Aircraft” are generally defined as aircraft which are not carrying passengers and/or cargo for “commercial purposes” (that is, for payment or other consideration).

“Commercial Aircraft” are generally defined as aircraft “transporting passengers and/or cargo for some payment or other consideration, including money or services rendered.” Commercially scheduled carriers and airlines are not included within the General Aviation scope.

For all arrivals to and departures from the United States, Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) manifest information is required of all General Aviation operators.  The APIS manifest is the virtual representation of all GA flights.  As such, pilots and operators of GA aircraft are responsible for transmitting APIS manifest information that is correct, valid, accurate, complete, and transmitted within specified timeline requirements.
 

Arrivals

For arrivals to the United States, after the transmission of the APIS manifest, pilots of GA aircraft must secure CBP permission to land through direct communication with the CBP port of arrival prior to departure from the foreign port or place. 

Pilots of GA aircraft seeking to arrive in the United States from a foreign port or place are responsible for securing permission to land after having successfully transmitted a compliant inbound APIS manifest.  This may be achieved directly or through a third-party.  For ALL international arrivals at ALL airports, pilots MUST contact the responsible CBP port of arrival directly to secure permission to land, better understand local operating procedures and requirements that may affect the flight and confirm compliance with local procedures and port capacities.

If changes to an already transmitted APIS manifest are necessary, pilots of GA aircraft are responsible for updating CBP.  Tail number changes and/or traveler additions or substitutions require updated or amended APIS transmissions and direct confirmation or reconfirmation of CBP permission to land. 
 

Departures 

Pilots and operators of GA aircraft must receive permission to depart (referred to as, “clearance”) prior to departure.  For pilots of private aircraft, clearance is granted directly and systematically from APIS processing.  For operators of GA commercial aircraft, clearance is secured by contacting the CBP port associated with your departure (generally the last point of departure).  In all cases, clearance is granted specifically for the data transmitted in APIS.

 

Special Circumstances

 

CBP Bond Requirements

While private aircraft operators generally do not require a CBP bond, in some cases (generally ad-hoc cargo-processing operations), CBP Bond requirements and conditions set forth in 19 CFR Parts 113 and 122 may apply.  For commercial GA operations, however, CBP bond requirements routinely apply to the transportation of commercial passengers and/or cargo.

 

Overflight Exemptions

Pilots and/or operators of GA aircraft arriving from some areas south of the United States are required to provide an advance notice of arrival and land at certain designated airports listed in 19 CFR § 122.24(b) for U.S. CBP processing unless exempted from this requirement through an Overflight Exemption provided for in 19 CFR § 122.25. 

For more information regarding the Overflight Exemption application process, contact GAsupport@cbp.dhs.gov .


Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) Shut-Off Requirements

For GA aircraft with an APU exhaust configured less than 8 feet off the ground, the APU must be powered down during CBP inspection and processing.

For GA aircraft equipped with an APU exhaust located on the fuselage 8 feet or higher from the ground, the APU may – at the discretion of the operator – remain powered and any electrical systems served by the APU (navigational, comfort, safety, etc.) may remain powered.  Any crew supervision of the aircraft while the APU is running that is required for aviation safety and security will be accommodated by CBP.  In cases involving CBP enforcement actions, however, CBP officers will require an APU shutdown, as necessary.

The utilization of a Ground Power Unit (GPU) – at the discretion of the operator – is acceptable for all GA aircraft regardless of APU configuration.


CBP GA Preclearance in Ireland and Aruba

If your flight is being precleared by CBP in Shannon, Ireland or Oranjestad, Aruba, permission to land will be granted through the preclearance process by the CBP preclearance port.  There is no need for you to coordinate permission to land with the domestic CBP port.

 

CBP Pre-Inspection in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI)

For flights leaving the USVI en route to other United States locations, GA aircraft operators are required to contact CBP in the USVI prior to departure.  Aircraft cannot be moved from the U.S. Virgin Islands to other U.S. locations until CBP Agriculture Specialists (CBPAS) have:

  • had the opportunity to inspect the aircraft, 
  • crew, and passengers, and 
  • the CBPAS has provided clearance for departure from the USVI.

 

User-Fee Requirements and Compliance

For private aircraft operations, User Fee compliance is achieved through the purchase of an annual CBP Private Aircraft User Fee Decal.  More information can be found, and decals can be purchased through the Decal Transponder Online Procurement System (DTOPS) website.

For commercial aircraft operations, various user fees may be applicable.
 

General Aviation Information and Support

For eAPIS support, questions, guidance, or concerns about General Aviation; please contact the General Aviation Program Office at GAsupport@cbp.dhs.gov.

Last modified: 
September 23, 2021