Cross-border travel

Both Skyhawk 513WF and Twin Star 919ES have CBP (US Customs & Border Protection) decals that are needed if/when you cross the border and (hopefully) fly back, and both planes also have N America (i.e. US and Canada) maps and charts on their MFDs.

The decal (the big, fat digit refers to the last digit of the calendar year it’s valid for) can be found near the pilot door – outside on our Skyhawk

… and on our Twin Star:

Pretty much everything you need to know about cross-border travel can be found in this free AOPA brochure. An additional resource worth checking out is Using your iPad on a trip to Canada.

All pilots flying across the U.S. border in either direction are required to file a report using eAPIS, which stands for Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, to notify CBP of the name and details of each person entering or leaving the country. eAPIS requires the pilot to send a manifest to CBP at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
Pilots have several options when it comes to filing this report, including the free CBP website, and premium services for added convenience from FlashPass, FltPlan.com and QuickClear.

For re-entry into the US, to generally help speed things up there are several options; these are two popular ones:

  • Global Entry – TSA Pre is included
    • Let you use dedicated passport kiosks and customs line. Requires a one-time application process with a brief interview. Application costs are $100. Once you have that card it’s valid for 5 years
    • No phone/app involved in using Global Entry
  • Mobile PassportTSA Pre is not included
    • Free app (they also offer a $15/year subscription for more frequent travelers) that also allows to use dedicated lines for both immigration and customs.
      One person can manage their entire traveling family!
    • A working (i.e. charged and connected) smartphone with the app properly configured and its forms filled out and submitted after landing and before showing up in the immigration terminal is required
    • Note that once a Mobile Passport form has been submitted, you cannot switch to using Global Entry if that line turns out to be shorter – it’s either/or.

Click here for a complete list of Trusted Traveler Programs.
Note that Mobile Passport is not a trusted traveler option (hence no TSA Pre); all it does is speed up the entry process by going the electronic way instead of filling out paper forms and be able to use generally shorter wait lines.

Bringing your passport is still (and probably always will be) required with all options.

Safe travels – don’t forget your passport..! 🙂