Pilots Can Start Now To File Border-Crossing Info Online

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Under new rules recently enacted by the federal Customs and Border Protection agency, general aviation pilots who fly across an international border will have to file passenger manifests online before each flight. The rules take effect this month, and the system is up and running, but compliance is voluntary until May 18, 2009. Pilots must register for an online account and then wait for approval, which can take about a week. Pilots can file the manifests anytime up to one hour before their flight, so they can submit the info for both the outgoing and return legs before leaving home. "We were pleased that security officials acted on many of the concerns we raised about this rule, including the fact that Internet access isn't always available, especially at remote destinations in other countries," said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of security. "Now we will be working closely with CBP during the implementation process to ensure that no undue burden is placed on GA and the process becomes transparent to the user." Pilots who fail to file, or file incomplete or late manifests, can be fined $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. Information about each passenger which must be filed includes full name, date of birth, citizenship, details about their travel documents, U.S. address, and country of residence.

For more information about the CBP online reporting system, including the full text of the rule and an online tutorial for GA pilots, click here. To read AOPA's issue brief about how the rules will affect GA, click here.