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eAPIS Tutorial

Posted by on January 15, 2010 30 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags : , ,

If you follow my tweets very much, you might know by now how I am a huge fan of Fltplan.com.  I think they easily have the best and slickest flight planning services available on the web.   From aviation weather to NOTAMS to approach charts, this is really a one-stop shop for planning and filing flight plans.  You can tell that the owners of the site really have a deep understanding of what pilot’s need when it comes to an online flight planning tool.

One of the features of Fltplan.com that not many people are familiar with is the  ability to file and submit your eAPIS notifications.  APIS is the Advanced Passenger Information System used by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  This is the system that collects and stores international traveler information for use both going in and out of the United States.  eAPIS is the system that collect and passes the passenger and crew manifest information to the APIS system electronically.    In May of 2009, the US government required all general aviation pilots to provide aircraft, pilot and passenger information at least 60 minutes prior to departure.

Fltplan.com was the first company to be approved and certified by the Customs Border Protection for general aviation eAPIS notifications.  Here are some of the features:

  • Easy to use interface allows you to create an APIS Manifest in less than one minute (using stored aircraft, crew and passenger data).
  • Easily print general Declaration forms and Customs Form 178 with your information already pre-filled.
  • Accessible from any internet connected computer
  • Uses https:// SSL secure technology encryption to protect your data and ensure privacy.
  • For use with both IFR and VFR flights.
  • You can use FltPlan.com’s eAPIS system for flights to and from Europe. (works outside the flight filing coverage area)
  • Designed to be used by all pilots from single-engine piston owners up to multiple jet aircraft flight departments.
  • Calculates Border crossing locations and time very accurately using your flight plan data.
  • 1 annual fee for unlimited eAPIS manifests and support (most companies charge per notification)

In order to show you just how quick and easy it is to create the eAPIS manifest using fltplan.com I put together a short eAPIS tutorial.  Here are the steps covered in the tutorial:

1) Create a international flight plan

2) Create the eAPIS manifest

3) Click Submit


4) Please don’t forget to CALL the local customs office to arrange for a customs officer to meet  and clear your airplane.  That is still a required step and one fltplan.com will not do.  You must call and arrange that yourself.  The FBO at the airport you are clearing will have the phone number for the local customs office.

It really is that easy.  Just watch this short video below to see a demonstration.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact fltplan.com for more information:


  1. Best of the Web — Golf Hotel Whiskey on Jan 24, 2010

    […] also use their eAPIS system for flights to and from Europe). Hence, Paul has put together a short eAPIS tutorial that includes a video demonstration about how to create an eAPIS manifest using […]

  2. Dan Schwartz, CFII, MEI on Feb 03, 2010

    Thank you for producing the tutorial. Very useful, and I’ll share it with my students.

  3. Paul on Feb 03, 2010

    Hi Dan,

    Glad you enjoyed it. It’s easy to review something when this feature has saved me so much time over the past year. I hear pilots complain about how difficult filing and complying with eAPIS is and I just shake my head and tell them about flptlan.com. I didn’t exaggerate or simplify anything in the video, it really is that easy.


  4. Hugh Cline on Feb 05, 2010

    Hello Paul,
    Thanks for the tutorial. Don’t we still have to make the phone call to customs on both the out bound and inbound flights and advise them of our pending arrival and time?

  5. Paul on Feb 05, 2010

    Hi Hugh,

    Glad you enjoyed it.

    Yes, you still have to arrange clearing customs with the CBP officers at the airport of intended landing. eAPIS does not replace this requirement. When you call them, the CBP officers will likely ask if you have filed submitted your eAPIS manifests so they can look up your passenger and crew information.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  6. Paul on Mar 04, 2010


    Nice tutorial. The only thing missing from the FltPlan, eAPIS is the phone number for the CBP, since we still have to contact them. Let us know if that is something that comes from a pull down menu or where to find this info.


  7. Paul on Mar 04, 2010

    Hi Amos,

    The best way that I have found get the local CBP (customs) number is to call the FBO at the airport you plan on using. There is no way at fltplan.com, that I know of, to get that information.

    Let me know if I can help with anything else.


  8. Ron Bingham on Mar 05, 2010

    Paul, could you tell me if we have to file eAPIS if we are flying from mainland USA(miami) to St tomas US virgin Islands? Do we have to notify customs? Thankyou

  9. Paul on Mar 05, 2010

    Hi Ron,

    According to the official CBP Private Air APIS Guide (available here), eAPIS requirements are not required from the U.S. Virgin Islands:

    Please note that APIS regulations do not apply to flights between the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands since the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered to be part of the United States for APIS purposes. Notice of arrival requirements previously in place for the U.S. Virgin Islands still apply and can be found in Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations, subpart N.

    However, there are some interesting requirements regarding customs inspection when arriving from the U.S. Virgin Islands. (see Title 19 Subpart N ) What I would is call a Customs office in South Florida (TMB, FLL, PBI, EYE) and talk to an CBP officer to make sure you understand the entry requirements completely. You’ll find that most officers are very helpful and will be more than happy to answer any question that you have. You can also call Miami FSS station, to make sure you understand the latest FAA requirements.

    Have fun.


  10. johnny Kontoulas on Mar 19, 2010

    Are there provisions for listing foreign passengers who enter the U.S. under foreign passports/visas?

  11. Paul on Mar 26, 2010

    Hi Johnny,

    Yes, you can easily list foreign passengers on your eAPIS. You just enter their name and address while in the united states like any other passenger. And then in the document information section, just select the document type (passport) and country of issuance. Fltplan.com provides country codes if you don’t happen to know it off hand. Very easy.


  12. Arturo on Apr 02, 2010

    I flight a mexican tail number, when I return to Mexico file my eApis, Do I must to call coustoms to release departure? waht coustom do I have to call, example: in bound CBP, KLRD, out bound KHIB?
    TKS in advance

  13. jasonneo on Apr 16, 2010

    Virgin Islands are considered to be part of the United States for APIS purposes.

  14. Vince Smith on Apr 24, 2010

    Can you please show me the official documentation that states that FORM 178 is no longer required?
    KIAH CBP is still asking for it.

  15. wendy on May 06, 2010

    Hi Paul,

    I’m a Part 91 corporate pilot (privately owned plane – not fractional) and on occasion, I’m asked to fly passengers who are not US Citizens, but I’m told by their employer (who is a contractor of my employer) that they are legal immigrants. The flights are general to or from an off shore US Island, to or from the US main land (which is more than 10 miles off shore). Can I use eAPIS to verify that these pax are truly legal to be in the US and onboard (even though it’s not an international flight)? Obviously, I would never want to unknowingly carry illegal immigrants and don’t feel comfy taking their employers word on it. Recently, our local news has reported that a group of illegals have been creating false immigration documents making it difficult for a person like myself to determine their legitimacy.


  16. Paul on May 13, 2010

    Hi Wendy,

    You can’t use the eAPIS system for that purpose. The purpose of eAPIS is for the DHS to screen inbound and outbound passengers through the DHS Automated Targeted System (ATS). The kind of information you are looking for is not provided to the end user.


  17. Simon Fraser on Sep 10, 2010

    Does the eAPIS system give the customs notification of arrival or is that isw separate thing? I’ve let the FBO or Jepps usully do it but would like to eliminate it as an expense.

  18. Paul on Sep 10, 2010

    Hi Simon,

    You still have to manually notify the local customs office where you will be clearing and that you are coming in. Here is what I usually do about 24 hours before a border crossing:

    1) File and Submit the APIS manifest (via fltplan.com!)
    2) Call the local customs office and tell them when / where I am coming
    3) Call the FBO (if you haven’t already done so)

    I will usually also call the US customs office an hour or two before arrival but this is not required and is just merely customary. No reason to pay someone to do it though when you can do it yourself. The only exception I can see is LONG overflights from Europe or something but yes, I would think paying a company to notify customs is something you can do.


  19. Steve on Nov 10, 2010

    Hello Paul,

    How much leeway do the authorities allow on the border crossing time? For example, if you pick up your flight plan and depart 1:30 after your Flt Plan.com proposed time, then the calculated border crossing time will be way off.

    Is that a problem, and if so, is there a recommended way to deal with it?

    Thanks for your efforts in creating and support your tutorial. Nice work!

  20. Paul Tocknell on Nov 10, 2010

    Hi Steve,

    Good question. As long as your flight is on the same date you do not need to change your APIS information. In fact, there is no way on the DHS site to cancel or modify a successfully submitted manifest. However, make sure you make a customary call to your customs official at the port you are planning to clear at. Also, if you are planning on flying into Canada, CANPASS usually requests that if you are modifying your arrival time by more than 30 minutes to call them as well. But no, you do not need to edit your eAPIS information.


  21. Kurt Zierhut on Nov 22, 2010

    It does NOT seem to be as easy as suggested here.
    I just got back from a flight that started in La Paz and stopped in Laredo for customs.
    I had all of the eaPIS information in place along with confirmation e-mail saying it was accepted.
    I was still “chewed out” by the people in charge saying that I had NOT called them on the phone at least one hour prior to arrival.
    If all of this eaPIS stuff must be done plus or minus 15 minutes, what is the point if we must still call them on the phone? Does FltPlan.com also place this phone call for us?

  22. Paul Tocknell on Nov 22, 2010

    Fltplan.com will not place the phone call to customs. You still have to arrange the customs officer to meet you just as you always have. Fltplan.com is still the easiest ways to file the required APIS paperwork. The phone call will always be required (until ESP is figured out). Why the phone call? When a customs office fields an airport there could be anywhere from 1 to 5+ FBOs on a field. How is a small customs office supposed to know which FBO you are going to? You still have to call the customs office and say, “I’m going to be clearing customs at XYZ FBO, can you meet me over there at 3:00 PM?”

  23. Kurt Zierhut on Nov 23, 2010

    Well that simply verifies that this eaPis system is just another bureacratic nightmare added on top of everything else. It does nothing to inform the local customs office. I have only used two airport as entry and they both require all airplanes to stop at the “customs ramp”. There is no possibility to stop at an FBO first. But still these guys insist on andf have insisted for years that you call them an hour before. So… lets list everything you have to do: (1) file a flight plan (with a federal agency), (2) file an eaPis manifest (with a federal agency), and (3) phone the CBP office (a federal agency).

  24. Greg O'Neal on Dec 30, 2010

    If going to Mexico have a cell phone that will work south of the border,
    Even though a flight plan is filed with Mexican authorities the FAA and thus customs may not learn about it, at least if VFR. An advisory phone call to customs at your airport of entry is highly recommended. Also, have the best frequenices to contact a flight service station while airborne over Mexico in your area and contact them as soon as you can to verify if they have received a flight plan for you.

  25. shannon on Apr 05, 2011

    Hi im a college student that is doing a paper on eAPIS. How does eAPIS determine who is a security risk?

  26. Steve on Jun 16, 2011


    Do part 91 non “N” registered airplanes have to file e apis into and out of the U.S.? They have the TSA overflight permit and all that and know they can only fly within the cities listed on their permit just wondering if they still have to file a e apis?



  27. Steve Katzmann on Jun 27, 2011

    Do you have to file the eapis info for the return flight at the same time as the outbound or can it be done later?



  28. Arturo Guerra on Jan 13, 2012

    FlashPass from Lobo Labs has a nice native iPhone App for eApis.

  29. Gary Holt on Sep 17, 2013

    I’m told and also have investigated on the internet that cell phone usage to inform the CBP can be a problem, it varies with your service provider. In example Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas your basic verizon service may or may not call out depending on signal strength but you will not be able to receive. Verizon blocks all outbound calls to the Bahamas. So how do you arrange contact?

  30. Mike McGillick on Nov 20, 2013

    I will be flying a float plane into Canada from Baudette, MN. I taxi about 3/4 of mile on floats across the river to the Canadian customs point of entry at Rainy River, ON. I would file a flight plan once inside Canada to the lake of destination, but how or do I file a flight plan from Baudette, MN to Rainy River, ON when I don;t leave the river water. Different people give me different answers.

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