June 12, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to dramatically impact day-to-day flight operations, the unanticipated downtime has allowed U.S. and Canadian customs officials to carefully examine – and in some cases, make meaningful changes to – their respective policies.

The post-pandemic landscape and other hot topics were the focus of the latest NBAA GO International Operators Conference 2020 (IOC2020) live session, “U.S and Canadian Customs Update,” featuring Eric Rodriguez, chair of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) General Aviation Working Group, and Anthony Norejko, president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA).

One major change the CBP has been working on during the pandemic is a standardization of the landing-rights process across the hundreds of airports where CBP services are normally available. Observing that challenges for operators posed by inconsistent local processes were exacerbated by quickly changing pandemic regulations, the CBP has been developing an automated system to reduce operator busywork, while clarifying when and how landing rights are granted. As one example of progress in this area, the CBP has recognized that information provided to the agency by operators through its Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) should not have to be duplicated elsewhere, and should be closely held, for security and other reasons.

The recognition of this priority by the agency carries direct benefits for industry: under the agency’s new process, operators will be granted landing rights upon receiving an automatically generated email once an officer approves a request. In turn, CBP personnel will have all relevant information easily available before an aircraft touches down at an airport.

Pivoting to expectations of flying during the “new normal”, CBAA’s Norejko predicted a “pent-up demand phase” following the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and advised that increased demand will make it more important than ever for operators flying within Canada to be aware of the United States’ largest trading partner’s customs policies.

With that in mind, Norejko urged new and experienced operators alike to use “Call, Give, Record” as a foundation for planning missions to Canada, which is to say, calling CANPASS (1-888-CANPASS) from between two to 48 hours before a trip, giving as detailed information about the trip as possible, and recording the badge number of the official to reference in future conversations.

“[For the giving phase], two areas of note operators will want to pay close attention to are purpose of trip and length of stay for nonresidents, and the declarations you wish to make,” Norejko said.

Learn more about upcoming Virtual IOC2020 sessions and register today.