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Fact Sheet: Requirements for Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States

Release Date: November 17, 2008

For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

Read the Final Rule in the Federal Register


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has enacted new rules changing the procedure for private aircraft to provide advance notice of their intended arrival or departure, and submit manifests of the persons on board. Private aircraft are defined as any aircraft, other than government or military, which are not engaged in carrying passengers or cargo for compensation. The new process is similar to the one currently in use by commercial aircraft and will standardize advance notice procedures for all CBP airports of entry.


CBP is working to strengthen general aviation security by further minimizing the vulnerability of general aviation flights being used to deliver illicit materials, transport dangerous individuals, or employ the aircraft as a weapon. Compared to regularly scheduled commercial airline operations, there is only a limited pre-screening of private arriving aircraft, passengers, and crew prior to departure. There is also little to no screening of departing private aircraft, passengers and crew prior to departure from the United States.

The department is working to address this vulnerability by enhancing international and domestic General Aviation (GA) security by:

  • Identifying and screening passengers and crew on international private aircraft prior to entering U.S. airspace;
  • Screening aircraft to ensure that illicit materials do not enter the U.S.; and
  • Conducting these screening activities as far from critical sites within the U.S. as practicable, preferably at the aircraft’s last point of departure outside the U.S.

CBP continues to focus considerable efforts on identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities within the aviation system, including initiatives focused on international general aviation operations. As significant public attention has been placed on addressing security vulnerabilities in other modes of transportation, private aircraft may be perceived as more viable targets and may therefore become more vulnerable to misuse by individuals wishing to harm the United States.


Previously, pilots were required to provide at least 60-minutes advance notice of their arrival either directly to CBP at the place of intended arrival, or by requesting in the remarks section of their flight plan that Federal Aviation Administration Flight Services advise CBP ("ADCUS"). Some but not all CBP locations also request that pilots fax CBP detailed information about the passengers, crew and aircraft in advance.

What's New

Under the new rule, pilots (or their designee) will be required to submit advance notice and passenger/crew manifest information to CBP via an approved electronic data interchange system, no later than 60 minutes prior to departure. The electronic submission will include essentially the same data elements previously provided through other means. CBP will require that the pilot compare the manifest data to the information on a Department of Homeland Security approved travel document presented by each individual seeking travel onboard the aircraft. This will ensure that the manifest data is correct, that the travel document appears to be valid for travel to the United States, and that the traveler is the person to whom the travel document was issued. Pilots will receive an authorization to depart from CBP from the same system.

CBP will require pilots departing from the United States to a foreign location to file notice electronically and obtain permission to depart. Departure clearance has been required for commercial aircraft for some time, and the new rule will make such reporting consistent for all general aviation aircraft through the same web portal.

Landing Rights

Pilots should be aware of the difference between international and landing rights airports. Some airports can call themselves international, but not actually meet the standards to be considered as such by CBP. The current regulations require the owner or operator of any aircraft, including a private aircraft, arriving at a landing rights airport or user fee airport to request permission to land (landing rights) from CBP. The rule will not change this requirement.

Planning Ahead

Pilots should always speak directly to a CBP Officer at the airport that is their intended place of arrival. Some airports of entry are not staffed, and CBP may send officers from another location to process the arrival. Some airports are only open during limited hours or on specific days. For current information on CBP airports of entry, refer to the Guide for Private Flyers at www.cbp.gov.

This page was last reviewed/modified on November 17, 2008.