Cuba APIS Now Required for BizAv Ops

PT 4 M minute read
Cuba APIS requirements Now Required for BizAv Ops

Please note that this article and the materials available herein are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain legal advice before operating any travel to Cuba.

Cuba recently initiated advance passenger information system (APIS) filing requirements for general aviation (GA). This is part of a global initiative we’re seeing from many countries, and we expect more of them to initiate GA APIS requirements in the future. As this regulatory requirement for Cuba is so new, there’s still some level of misunderstanding within the GA operator community as to correct APIS filing procedures.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Cuban APIS requirements

Cuba initiated APIS requirements for all GA aircraft as of September 1, 2015. Previously, APIS reporting had only applied to scheduled commercial flights. At this point in time only inbound APIS is necessary, and the regulations do not stipulate that outbound APIS reporting will become a requirement.

2. Third-party providers may assist with Cuban APIS

Third-party providers with a base in the U.S. are only permitted to provide Cuban APIS filing services to U.S. operators who have U.S. nationals and/or permanent residents onboard. Additionally, both the operator and passengers must have all required permissions from the U.S. Commerce and U.S. Treasury Departments (as applicable) prior to obtaining Cuban APIS filing services from U.S.-based 3rd-party providers.

3. Filing requirements

Cuban APIS must be filed prior to the flight departing for Cuba. We recommend, making your APIS filing at least 24 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival (ETA) to avoid any last minute issues that may arise.

4. Filing procedure

APIS is submitted in one of two ways — either via email or via an online system that requires prior registration. In order to submit APIS via the online system the operator must register an account with Cuban customs authorities, and there’s no cost to doing this. The Cuban APIS system is based on an Excel template, and there are two different forms — one for GA and another for scheduled commercial. While the two forms look almost identical, the form for scheduled commercial requires more information. Note that these Excel documents must be manually completed, which leaves operators and 3rd-party providers at a greater risk of making errors. Required information includes:

    • flight details and schedule
    • aircraft registry
    • departure and arrival airports
    • local arrival and departure dates and times
    • contact name and phone number of the person who submits the report
    • full names of crew and passengers (middle names are an optional field) with gender, date of birth, citizenship, travel document type and number and embarkation and disembarkation airports. Note that passport expiration dates are also an optional field.

Once you’ve completed the Excel form you’ll find a button on the bottom of the form that allows you to create a UN/EDIFACT message. If you’re a registered user you’ll be able to file this directly online with Cuban customs. If you’re not registered for online filing, you’ll need to email this UN/EDIFACT format to Cuban authorities.

5. Confirmation of Cuban APIS filing

Once you’re submitted the UN/EDIFACT message online you’ll see your information registered. If you submit APIS via email there’s usually a 10-15 minute lapse as customs authorities upload the information online. Once it’s been updated online you’ll see your tail number, origin, point of departure, ETA, and number of crew and passengers onboard. Note that all of this information is now open for anyone to view.

6. Registering for online filing

To become a registered user you’ll need to provide specific documentation and information to Cuban authorities to obtain approval to use the online system. When there are changes to any of this submitted information, revisions must be provided in order to maintain current and accurate information on file.

7. Revisions to APIS

Revisions to your APIS filing are necessary for any changes to date, time, aircraft, crew, and/or passenger information. Unlike U.S. APIS where a revision or notification is not needed to remove a passenger, Cuba requires revisions for any change.

8. Incorrect APIS filings

If there’s an error or issues with your APIS filing you’ll receive an online denial message, and this will be noted in red. While this message will not indicate what the error is, it does let you know that your filing has been rejected. In this case you’ll need to contact Cuban customs, via phone or email, to determine what the issues were with your submission. The error could range from a small typo to not copying the entire UN/EDIFACT message when submitting APIS.

9. Repercussions for incorrect filings

To date we’ve not experienced any issues as a result of filing errors. Cuban authorities do, however, have the right to penalize anyone who files incorrect APIS. So, it’s always important to ensure all information is complete and correct. Currently, Cuban customs has been providing some leniency for operators who neglect to file APIS. This, however, is only temporary, and we anticipate repercussions and/or penalties for operators who neglect to file Cuban APIS in future.

10. Additional Reading


It’s important for GA operators to fully comply with new Cuban APIS requirements as penalties will likely be put in place for non-filers. Over time we anticipate Cuban APIS requirements to become more stringent, including a possible mandate for GA filing of outbound APIS.

Please note that this article and the materials available herein are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain legal advice before operating any travel to Cuba.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance filing your next Cuba APIS, contact me at

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