New 2023 U.S. Customs Rules for Private Outbound Flights

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U.S. Customs in 2023 has begun increasing its scrutiny on outbound clearance processes, particularly for Private Non-Revenue flights.

Here’s what you need to know.


New CBP APIS Scrutiny

While previously just submitting updates to PRIVATE-APIS (Private Advance Passenger Information System) transmissions was sufficient, new regulations require more interaction with U.S. Customs. Any changes to your manifest, like traveler details or time adjustments beyond a 60-minute window, necessitate a re-transmission of an APIS manifest at least 60 minutes before departure.

Additionally, operators must contact their local CBP (Customs and Border Protection) port to cancel the original clearance and confirm the updated information. After-hours changes should be notified through Sector Communication or email as a last resort. Customs and Border Protection is stepping up in-person clearances and checks to intercept potential threats. Note that fines can be levied for discrepancies or non-compliance, so ensure all your information is complete and accurate.


A Deeper Dive into Legacy Policies

In the past, the protocol for Private Non-Revenue departures was somewhat straightforward – submitting updates to PRIVATE-APIS transmissions was not required for time changes if the new Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) veered outside the initial local date.


Evolving Outbound Clearance Procedures

With the advent of more rigorous oversight, private operators are now required to engage more actively with U.S. Customs. The new guidelines stipulate a tolerance window of +/- 60 minutes for Private Outbound APIS. As long as flight details remain consistent and within this timeframe, operators are cleared for departure.

However, when there are notable alterations to your APIS information, such as:

  • Amendments to the manifest’s traveler details.
  • Adjustments to conveyance data.
  • Time shifts beyond the permitted leeway of +/- 60 minutes from the APIS-manifested departure time.

The ensuing steps are crucial:

  • Retransmit an APIS manifest at least 60 minutes before departure.
  • Contact the local CBP port to revoke the original flight clearance, communicate the APIS-filed changes, and secure outbound approval.

After-hours amendments should be communicated through sector channels or emails as a fallback measure.


A Friendly Word of Caution

A stern reminder that any discrepancies in flight or manifest details can incur fines and penalties. Ensuring meticulous accuracy in all transmitted information is paramount to sidestep any unforeseen complications.

The newly minted outbound clearance policy represents a concerted endeavor to augment security and streamline operational protocols. Compliance with these updated guidelines will not only facilitate smoother departures but also contribute to a safer airspace for all involved parties.


Universal Can Help

The revised Customs rules bring about additional complexity. However, for flights managed by Universal, these requirements are handled on behalf of our clients, alleviating the need for them to navigate these changes independently.

If you would like to learn more about how Universal can support your flight operations, ask us here.


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