Customs: $10k Fines for eAPIS Violations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has put general aviation pilots on notice that it plans to begin imposing fines of up to $10,000 for failure to comply with electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) requirements. The notification is required for cross-border international flights such as those to and from Canada, Mexico or islands such as the Bahamas. The APIS rules first went into play almost a year ago in May 2009, and last month, CBP sent notices to the leadership of several GA groups emphasizing the necessity of complying. According the CBP, "Failure to transmit an APIS manifest according to the … guidelines and/or failure to obtain permission to depart from [the Department of Homeland Security] prior to departure (as required under 19 CFR 122.22(b)(6), (c) (5)), may result in penalty case initiation against the pilot-in-command of the aircraft." Pilots face fines of $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for each subsequent transgression. According to APIS rules, the pilot in command must file the APIS information electronically at least an hour before departure for flights leaving or returning to the United States. In an emergency, a 30-minute time period is acceptable, and the agency will take into considerations situations where the aircraft might not have had appropriate equipment on board to make the necessary transmissions in an emergency.