Feb. 20, 2015

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) plans to implement two new online systems by spring 2016 to pre-screen air travelers prior to a flight’s departure for Canada.

The interactive advance passenger information (IAPI) initiative – similar to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s electronic advance passenger information system (eAPIS) – would require valid documentation of all travelers, including Canadians, prior to boarding an aircraft. The second process, the electronic travel authorization (eTA), would be required of all visa-exempt foreign nationals, except U.S. citizens.

The CBSA says the IAPI initiative will help vet travelers’ information earlier in the process, identify individuals who do not have the proper travel documents before they board an aircraft destined for Canada, and reduce costs associated with removing individuals who do not have the appropriate documents.

The IAPI initiative is not a replacement for CANPASS, which allows members to access more airports and provides expedited clearances for low-risk, pre-screened travelers.

The new IAPI system potentially represents another layer of paperwork for business aircraft operators, according to Merlin Preuss, vice president of government and regulatory affairs for the Canadian Business Aviation Association and former director general of civil aviation at Transport Canada. Preuss said the measure closes a security gap for the aviation and maritime sectors that was created when a previous U.S.-Canada entry/exit treaty addressed only land crossings.

Sarah Wolf, NBAA’s senior manager of security and facilitation, met recently with U.S. and Canadian border agency representatives, as well as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) and other stakeholders to discuss ways to minimize filing duplication, reduce data entry errors and address information privacy concerns.

AOPA and COPA have created an online survey, seeking operator and pilot input that will be relayed to the CBSA for consideration in crafting the final IAPI rules. The survey asks about anticipated impacts such as changes in flight frequency and whether pilots might allow the U.S. to share eAPIS information with their Canadian counterparts.

The U.S. eAPIS program was implemented in May 2009. Beginning in January 2014, Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration agency mandated that private aircraft operators electronically transmit advanced passenger information data.

Unlike the U.S. and Mexican programs, which require filing for both departure and entry flights, IAPI applies only to flights entering Canada.

The proposed eTA program would require foreign nationals who are not exempt from doing so to apply online by entering biographic, passport and background information similar to the personal information that is currently collected at a port of entry in Canada.

View the AOPA/COPA operator/pilot survey.