Flight Outside The U.S. & U.S. Territories


  • When conducting flights, particularly extended flights, outside the U.S. and its territories, full account should be taken of the amount and quality of air navigation services available in the airspace to be traversed. Every effort should be made to secure information on the location and range of navigational aids, availability of communications and meteorological services, the provision of air traffic services, including alerting service, and the existence of search and rescue services

Flights Outside of the U.S. and U.S. Territories:

  • Pilots should remember that there is a need to continuously guard the VHF emergency frequency 121.5 MHz when on long over-water flights, except when communications on other VHF channels, equipment limitations, or cockpit duties prevent simultaneous guarding of two channels. Guarding of 121.5 MHz is particularly critical when operating in proximity to Flight Information Region (FIR) boundaries, for example, operations on Route R220 between Anchorage and Tokyo, since it serves to facilitate communications with regard to aircraft which may experience in-flight emergencies, communications, or navigational difficulties
  • The filing of a flight plan, always good practice, takes on added significance for extended flights outside U.S. airspace and is, in fact, usually required by the laws of the countries being visited or overflown. It is also particularly important in the case of such flights that pilots leave a complete itinerary and schedule of the flight with someone directly concerned and keep that person advised of the flight’s progress. If serious doubt arises as to the safety of the flight, that person should first contact the appropriate FSS. Round Robin Flight Plans to Mexico are not accepted
  • All pilots should review the foreign airspace and entry restrictions published in the IFIM during the flight planning process. Foreign airspace penetration without official authorization can involve both danger to the aircraft and the imposition of severe penalties and inconvenience to both passengers and crew. A flight plan on file with ATC authorities does not necessarily constitute the prior permission required by certain other authorities. The possibility of fatal consequences cannot be ignored in some areas of the world
  • Current NOTAMs for foreign locations must also be reviewed. The publication Notices to Airmen, Domestic/International, published biweekly, contains considerable information pertinent to foreign flight. Current foreign NOTAMs are also available from the U.S. International NOTAM Office in Washington, D.C., through any local FSS
  • When customs notification is required, it is the responsibility of the pilot to arrange for customs notification in a timely manner. The following guidelines are applicable:
    • When customs notification is required on flights to Canada and Mexico and a predeparture flight plan cannot be filed or an advise customs message (ADCUS) cannot be included in a predeparture flight plan, call the nearest en route domestic or International FSS as soon as radio communication can be established and file a VFR or DVFR flight plan, as required, and include as the last item the advise customs information. The station with which such a flight plan is filed will forward it to the appropriate FSS who will notify the customs office responsible for the destination airport
    • If the pilot fails to include ADCUS in the radioed flight plan, it will be assumed that other arrangements have been made and FAA will not advise customs
    • The FAA assumes no responsibility for any delays in advising customs if the flight plan is given too late for delivery to customs before arrival of the aircraft. It is still the pilot’s responsibility to give timely notice even though a flight plan is given to FAA
    • Air Commerce Regulations of the Treasury Department’s Customs Service require all private aircraft arriving in the U.S. via:
      • The U.S./Mexican border or the Pacific Coast from a foreign place in the Western Hemisphere south of 33 degrees north latitude and between 97 degrees and 120 degrees west longitude; or
      • The Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coasts from a foreign place in the Western Hemisphere south of 30 degrees north latitude, must furnish a notice of arrival to the Customs service at the nearest designated airport. This notice may be furnished directly to Customs by:
        • Radio through the appropriate FAA Flight Service Station
        • Normal FAA flight plan notification procedures (a flight plan filed in Mexico does not meet this requirement due to unreliable relay of data); or
        • Directly to the district Director of Customs or other Customs officer at place of first intended landing but must be furnished at least 1 hour prior to crossing the U.S./Mexican border or the U.S. coastline
      • This notice will be valid as long as actual arrival is within 15 minutes of the original ETA, otherwise a new notice must be given to Customs. Notices will be accepted up to 23 hours in advance. Unless an exemption has been granted by Customs, private aircraft are required to make first landing in the U.S. at one of the following designated airports nearest to the point of border of coastline crossing:
Bisbee Douglas Intl Airport
Douglas Municipal Airport
Nogales Intl Airport
Tucson Intl Airport
Yuma MCAS-Yuma Intl Airport
CALIFORNIA: Calexico Intl Airport
Brown Field Municipal Airport (San Diego)
FLORIDA: Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Intl Airport
Key West Intl Airport (Miami Intl Airport)
Opa Locka Airport (Miami)
Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (Miami)
St. Lucie County Intl Airport (Fort Pierce)
Tampa Intl Airport
Palm Beach Intl Airport (West Palm Beach)
LOUISANA: New Orleans Intl Airport (Moisant Field)
New Orleans Lakefront Airport
NEW MEXICO: Las Cruces Intl Airport
NORTH CAROLINA: New Hanover Intl Airport (Wilmington)
TEXAS: Brownsville/South Padre Island Intl Airport
Corpus Christi Intl Airport
Del Rio Intl Airport
Eagle Pass Municipal Airport
El Paso Intl Airport
William P. Hobby Airport (Houston)
Laredo Intl Airport
McAllen Miller Intl. Airport
Presidio Lely Intl Airport


  • Consider:
    • Air navigation services available
    • Communications and meteorological services
    • Air traffic services including alerting and existence of SAR