Oct. 31, 2023

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has revised its Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) guidance to standardize and clarify departure clearance processes for outbound international travel, particularly for general aviation operations.

The clarifying language explains that when a crew expects changes in manifested details, such as traveler additions or substitutions, tail number changes, or time adjustments beyond a 60-minute window, re-transmission of an APIS manifest is required at least 60 minutes before departure.

Additionally, operators should call their local CBP port to cancel the original clearance and confirm the updated information. In some cases, the port might be able to approve an expedited departure if the flight is already vetted.

If the manifest changes occur outside of business hours, operators should still re-transmit and call the port when it reopens to explain the manifest changes.

CBP regulations have long required 60 minutes notice prior to departure. However, the requirement was little understood. In a call with NBAA, CBP officials made it clear that they expect operators to follow the regulations and wait 60 minutes before departing unless they receive clearance.

If it is not possible, after submitting a re-transmission, to wait 60 minutes to depart because of an emergency or aeromedical evacuation, operators should be prepared to describe and document the ambulance flight.

“The industry has long asked for greater standardization among ports. The update will ensure that both sides of the coin – flight crews and customs officers – understand expectations,” said Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA director of flight operations and regulations.

Operators are reminded that if a flight is canceled, they are required by regulation to call the port. Additionally, operators will not be penalized if departure delays are caused by factors beyond their control, such as air traffic control.

APIS is designed to help CBP identify potential threats and prevent the boarding of a person of interest. Operators can be fined for discrepancies in the information they submit, so they are strongly encouraged to ensure all information is accurate.