Customs trouble

This right here is probably the best tidbit from this thread so far. Neither of us thought about that.


For the record, EAPIS was filed. It even had the correct birth dates!! Airplane had a customs sticker. The only thing that was missing was actually talking to a human.

Based on a few of the other responses, I'll go see if I can find someone to snip my friend's gonads. He's already had kids, so he doesn't really need them anymore.
If he is married the wife probably already has them in a box on a shelf.
 
You would think that as a fellow DHS employee, I would get treated with a little professional courtesy but I have found that to absolutely not be the case. Two contrasting experiences, same border checkpoint in South Texas. First time I ever went through this particular one, I and a crew of 6 were returning from a Coast Guard mission on Falcon Lake. Government truck with a bright orange US Coast Guard boat on a trailer. We were in civilian clothes as we were advised to not travel in uniform (as if the boat didn't give us away). At the checkpoint, we provided our military ID cards to the agent and then was strongly questioned as to our destination and purpose. I just pointed to the boat on the trailer. Perhaps saying something along the lines of "doing your job for you" didn't sit well with the agent even though it was a joke. A few months later, crossing the same checkpoint with a motorcycle club I was a part of back then (a law enforcement club, not a 1%er in case you were wondering) I showed my ID and CHL (as required by Texas state law at the time) and was immediately waved through with a "have a great day, sir."

Moral of the story? I don't trust any DHS agent as far as I can throw them unless I've actually worked with them myself. And even then I keep my guard up. Don't get me started on TSA agents when transporting a firearm. Four different airports, six different procedures.
 
Is it even conceivable that there may be no cell coverage at the airport of departure and no available landline?
I had this situation in Kiritimati. No internet, therefore no way to file EAPIS for the flight to Hawaii. The suggestion from CBP by phone? "Fly to somewhere else outside the US that does have internet, then fly to the US from there".

Morons. Where else exactly did they think I was going to be able to fly to? Their suggestion would have had me fly back around the world the other way and come in across the Atlantic.
 
I had this situation in Kiritimati. No internet, therefore no way to file EAPIS for the flight to Hawaii. The suggestion from CBP by phone? "Fly to somewhere else outside the US that does have internet, then fly to the US from there".

Morons. Where else exactly did they think I was going to be able to fly to? Their suggestion would have had me fly back around the world the other way and come in across the Atlantic.

Doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know it and don’t do it prior to leaving the US, but you can file your eAPIS long in advance, so in theory you can file it from the US before you even leave. Obviously that would require you to know what date you’re planning on returning to the States. Also, there is nothing wrong with filing several eAPIS if you have a range of days you’re considering to return on. The arrival time you put on your eAPIS doesn’t really matter. It’s the date that matters. If you file to arrive at let’s say 3pm and then plans change and you arrive at 11am, no new eAPIS is needed, just a phone call to the arrival CBP station to let them know of your new ETA as long as it’s still on the same day.
 
I had this situation in Kiritimati. No internet, therefore no way to file EAPIS for the flight to Hawaii. The suggestion from CBP by phone? "Fly to somewhere else outside the US that does have internet, then fly to the US from there".

Morons. Where else exactly did they think I was going to be able to fly to? Their suggestion would have had me fly back around the world the other way and come in across the Atlantic.
I'm assuming you made it back into the U.S., so I'm wondering how you ended up doing it.
 
Amusingly, I knew about the aviation procedures but got to see the pleasure boating version of this arriving back into the US Friday.

Unlike the morass that is eApis and the annoyances of dealing/notifying customs for airplane arrivals, we used the CBP Roam app giving all the passport information of everybody on board (along with PASSID for those of us with GE). We triple-checked it and hit submit. About 45 minutes later we got a notification that we were cleared into the US.

Far easier than clearing in/out of the BVI. Where you had to go in person to four different windows (not marked at all) and deal with various aspects of the process (paying the taxes, etcc..). The fact that they have a prefiling system didn't seem to mean anything (at least we were able to bring up our info on the site and copy it to their "official" stuff).
 
For arrivals to the United States, after the transmission of the APIS manifest, pilots of GA aircraft must secure CBP permission to land through direct communication with the CBP port of arrival prior to departure from the foreign port or place.

6 years ago, no mater how hard I tried, I could not submit my EAPIS. I attributed it to teething problems on the internet at that time. However, after 2 calls to US Customs, the agent was quite nice enough to put it in for me, sensing my frustration. When I got to Minot, he did ask me the identifier for Lloydminster that I though was him making sure nothing was fishy, after the fact. It may have helped the agent that I had a successful prior EAPIS filed 2 days earlier crossing the Alaskan border and 2 others filed within the past 2 weeks.
Obviously, the important thing was being able to talk with a human at the other end.
 
Is there a legal requirement to fly nonstop from wherever you are in the Bahamas to your U.S. port of entry? I would think you could hop over to an airport that had a phone, so you could get a weather briefing, file flight plans, and maybe submit eAPIS.

Of course, if that’s not possible, one couldn’t possibly be expected to plan far enough ahead to know when they’re returning to the U.S. :rolleyes:
It was a different era almost 40 years ago, but we had an adcus option on the flight plan, but for some reason I could not call the US from Nassau. So I departed on the flight plan and when able to contact US ATC on flight following, I asked them to contact Ft Lauderdale customs to make sure they got notification of my arrival.
On arrival, while the agent carefully looked over my plane, there was no further abnormal discussion.
 
Definitely a different world today with international roaming on our cell phones, but I have traveled to Canada several times and just got back from the Bahamas yesterday. I have not had a horrible experience yet. Night before last, I called customs and told them that I planned to arrive at about 11:45 the following day from Freeport. (Note, customs would not have been open if I tried to call only an hour or two out, in reference to the OP) I didn't quite hit it on the head, but we touched down a few mins before noon I think. Taxied to the ramp, told the line guy I needed fuel, customs cleared us, line guy towed us over and fueled us up (we were #3 or 4 in line) and we were back out in the air in under 45 mins.

Coming back from Toronto (for a $100 hamburger) was my worst experience, in that, I called CBP at Buffalo and told them I planned to leave in an hour. They told me they needed 2 hours advance notice (regs say 1). So I asked if I could go to a different POE (Binghamton) and he was like, "That's fine." I said, "OK, have a good day," and he cut me off. I thought he was going to continue to be snippy, but instead, he said, "I can give you their phone number real quick." So he went from snippy to helpful REALLY quickly! If that's the worst experience I have, awesome.

Mind you, my wife is Canadian, so we always look like we have a reason to be there (she wasn't with me for the Toronto $100 hamburger), so that helps. Besides, between being married to an immigrant, traveling internationally at least once/year, and working for a federal law enforcement agency...if there's something the government doesn't know about me, I probably don't know it either!
 
You know the process is very well documented by CBP and AOPA. It’s very clear that you need to notify before you cross. He should have delayed or found an office that was open. It’s what I did when I crossed. Uh ou have to read and understand just like most of aviation.
 
I fly back and forth quite often and just came back from the Bahamas on Saturday from dropping somebody off. I too have received a letter in the past. I forgot to file an outbound last year.

First guess, was that the airport was KFPR but that is another discussion for another thread.

Here is what will happen - your friend needs to call the number and speak with Ms. Sullivan. If it is the first time, she will more than likely remind you of the requirement to call and ask to write her an email to state that you understand what you did was incorrect. From there you move on with your life.

For those questioning the phone call, it's been a requirement for years. Some places enforced it more than others. KFPR had a big issue about a year ago with this (they didn't want you to call, they just sent an email to you authorizing landing) and some guys were getting caught up in the mess.
 
Has anyone besides me ever wondered if custom officials are trained to make you uncomfortable on first contact, hoping to elicit nervousness that might be associated with a violation? Most of them seem to loosen up a bit if you are relaxed and comfortable in your responses.

When we flew into Juneau once from Canada the customs official was very unfriendly, immediately asking for all documents and firing lots of questions at me. As he looked in the back of the C206 and saw a motorcycle he asked, "What's this?" Rather than a snippy response (i.e., "It's a motorcycle") I explained to him how we used it as ground transportation everywhere we had been in Alaska the prior month. I asked him if he had seen many people doing that before. Smiling, he said, "I've only been working here for 14 years, but this is the first one I've seen". His demeanor changed completely, and he quickly handed back everything I had given him and didn't even check anything else. "Have a good day in Juneau . . ."
 
Has anyone besides me ever wondered if custom officials are trained to make you uncomfortable on first contact, hoping to elicit nervousness that might be associated with a violation? Most of them seem to loosen up a bit if you are relaxed and comfortable in your responses.

When we flew into Juneau once from Canada the customs official was very unfriendly, immediately asking for all documents and firing lots of questions at me. As he looked in the back of the C206 and saw a motorcycle he asked, "What's this?" Rather than a snippy response (i.e., "It's a motorcycle") I explained to him how we used it as ground transportation everywhere we had been in Alaska the prior month. I asked him if he had seen many people doing that before. Smiling, he said, "I've only been working here for 14 years, but this is the first one I've seen". His demeanor changed completely, and he quickly handed back everything I had given him and didn't even check anything else. "Have a good day in Juneau . . ."
My experience with Juneau was an after hours phone call Sunday evening to leave a message with my arrival time Monday morning, as they had previously told me to do. But someone actually answered the phone. After explaining myself, I asked, “are you going to be there in an hour?”
He responded, “can you be here in an hour?”
“I can be there in an hour and a quarter for sure.”
“You better.”

Once I got there, no issues at all.
 
Attitude depends on where they are normally working and the amount of stupidity they have to deal with. I get it but sometimes I want to shake my head.

After Hurricane Dorian, KFPR brought up a bunch of guys from south Florida. Their attitude was a lot different than the normal guys there.

When I cleared on Saturday I was asked a bunch of questions (money carrier, anything to declare, etc..) by an officer than I have never seen before. That was a first.
 
Has anyone besides me ever wondered if custom officials are trained to make you uncomfortable on first contact, hoping to elicit nervousness that might be associated with a violation?

I do think they're trained to do exactly this. Someone who has nothing to hide won't fall for it. Someone who does most likely will. It does catch some people who are just generally nervous but have nothing to hide as well unfortunately. Although they're trained to do this, I noticed most don't employ this tactic. I had one officer (same who ended up giving me recommendations for restaurants) do that. We landed and he acted like Mr. Toughguy. That lasted for maybe two minutes and suddenly he was the nicest person in the room, joking, playing with our dog, giving him treats, even holding his leash while my wife and I went through the (back then for us due to German/French citizenship) mandatory fingerprinting session. I actually told him that border officers don't generally have a great rep and most find them intimidating and what he thought of this. His response "that's because not everyone shows up with their sh** together like you do." lol.
 
You would think that as a fellow DHS employee,
Oh very much the opposite. Their disdain for team DOD is long standing and well documented in my lived experience. The only quirk in your case is that the borg opted to re-org your uniformed branch under the DHS. That's just happenstance, it matters not for this topic, you are DOD-equivalent in their eyes.

I'm also on record the USCG should have never been re-org'ed under that ghastly agency's umbrella, and my position the DHS should be abolished, but that's for another thread.
I had this situation in Kiritimati. No internet,

Morons.
QFT cuz I can't like it twice.
 
I actually told him that border officers don't generally have a great rep and most find them intimidating and what he thought of this. His response "that's because not everyone shows up with their sh** together like you do."
That’s probably more the reason than training. When your job generally involves people who screw up or expect special treatment as often as they do, that becomes your default response until they demonstrate they’re not screwing up.
 
and my position the DHS should be abolished, but that's for another thread.

It's nearly impossible even to downsize a civil service agency, and harder still to abolish one. But they can be re-purposed.

I'd like to see DHS devoted exclusively to investigating activities of the BATFE.
 
First guess, was that the airport was KFPR but that is another discussion for another thread.
Bingo!!

I passed your other remarks to my friend. He already sent the email to Ms. Sullivan earlier today. As a result of your gouge, he's probably going to give her a call tomorrow morning as a follow up.
 
This is actually great timing because I had a thought experiment and put it on one of my aviation reddits and got a bunch of stupid responses. I live in Florida and wondered what would happen if instead of flying to Ft Myers (POE) from the Bahamas and just decided to fly straight home to Lakeland without stopping? Would I get intercepted in the air or would the CBP show up at the airport?
 
This is actually great timing because I had a thought experiment and put it on one of my aviation reddits and got a bunch of stupid responses. I live in Florida and wondered what would happen if instead of flying to Ft Myers (POE) from the Bahamas and just decided to fly straight home to Lakeland without stopping? Would I get intercepted in the air or would the CBP show up at the airport?

Not sure how it works in the southern U.S. but coming from Canada, you can land at any airport of entry in the U.S. It doesn't have to be the first airport of entry en route. If you come from let's say Ontario and your plane can make it all the way to Florida without a fuel stop, you can fly directly to Florida and clear customs there. No need to land and clear in NY, VT, etc.
 
Not sure how it works in the southern U.S. but coming from Canada, you can land at any airport of entry in the U.S. It doesn't have to be the first airport of entry en route. If you come from let's say Ontario and your plane can make it all the way to Florida without a fuel stop, you can fly directly to Florida and clear customs there. No need to land and clear in NY, VT, etc.
Southern border is the first airport of entry unless you have an overflight permit.
 
This is actually great timing because I had a thought experiment and put it on one of my aviation reddits and got a bunch of stupid responses. I live in Florida and wondered what would happen if instead of flying to Ft Myers (POE) from the Bahamas and just decided to fly straight home to Lakeland without stopping? Would I get intercepted in the air or would the CBP show up at the airport?
If you have an aircraft that meets the performance abilities of an overflight permit, you can obtain one and do just that.

We will occasionally fly direct to Orlando international, or even to Leesburg as a part of entry with our permit.

If you do not have an overflight permit, at a minimum, you will most certainly wind up with an enforcement action. I am not sure if Lakeland is considered an airport of entry though.
 
Has anyone besides me ever wondered if custom officials are trained to make you uncomfortable on first contact, hoping to elicit nervousness that might be associated with a violation? Most of them seem to loosen up a bit if you are relaxed and comfortable in your responses.
My family and I returned from a Caribbean cruise and had docked in Miami, everyone had sat for hours waiting to deboard and then we all had to stand near our luggage in a big hangar-like place with no air conditioning while customs officials cleared us. I handed the Customs officer (a large Black Lady) our paperwork and she glanced at it and said with just exactly this intonation "HE wants to TALK to YOU!" pointing to her partner in, um, law enforcement. I could tell she was trying to get a rise out of me, but I had just spent hours with four young cranky children in sweltering heat and Hell had no power over me. I just looked at the guy, "Yeah?" Not getting the reaction they wanted she just pocketed the paperwork and cleared us. So yeah, I think they are trained to elicit reactions.
 
Last year, on a return trip back from the Bahamas I flew from Freeport to KFPR. I called at least 10 times over a 2 hour period and never got ahold of Customs at FPR. The weather was starting to go downhill pretty quickly so I called Miami Customs and explained to them I could not get ahold of FPR. They put me on hold for maybe 10 minutes and came back and told me to call now. Sure enough, I called and a guy answered! Another thing happed on that trip back. Because of the delay, getting someone to answer the phone, I was further delayed by thunderstorms. This pushed my arrival time by over an hour. I informed ATC about this, and they sent me to flight services. I contacted flight services and explained I would be late. They contacted Customs for me and let them know. I thought for sure I was going to get a “talking to” but it was a non-issue. The Customs officers at FPR were very friendly and seemed to be in a great mood. Honestly, cant say that about any other customs location I’ve visited.
 
The eAPIS email states you must call and receive permission to land. We had a 24 ship trip in the Caribbean last week. Several of the CBP offices were not answering the phone. The after hours phone said call during business hours and the 24 hour phone was not answered. We all left multiple messages on the local and 24 hour numbers, but had to get out of the Caribbean. To my knowledge there were no violations. We simply said we called multiple times and left messages. The CBP officer at our airport, said must be a glitch. Be nice, write an apology letter, be honest (I was an idiot, or something to that effect) and move on.
 
The whole “call ahead” needs to go away. We don’t have to do that to walk or drive across the border. I have written to my Congressmen, but nothing ever changes and the people I vote for never win. Sigh.
 
The whole “call ahead” needs to go away. We don’t have to do that to walk or drive across the border. I have written to my Congressmen, but nothing ever changes and the people I vote for never win. Sigh.
Bingo. Ya beat me to it. The practice is unconstitutional from where I sit, especially in light of the differential treatment given vis a vis revenue operators and their modes of disembarkment. To say nothing of the most obvious self-evidence of that double standard against private GA: land crossings.

Lots of constitutional challenges through the years, though as you point out, the trampling of our rights as citizens when utilizing flying conveyances under part 91 to re-enter our Country, continues to persist in the name of economic (in this case) and political expediency. Further proof being minority populations in this world is always met with apathy, or tyranny, of the majority in either case.

Much more than the fuel costs or the specter of AOG in some international airport at some extortion level parking rate, the re-entry to the US via recreational aviation was the biggest hassle of my bucket list trip. Certainly the one that disabused me of the desire to do it again. I used to have this dream of living on the East coast and hopping over back home to PR on the regular, but the CBP stuff was eventually gonna have me handcuffed on some humid ramp after finally knocking the chip off one of those flunkies' shoulder after one too many double-dares. :D

I understand that for those with real estate in the bahamas/méjico this stuff is just a mindless "nuisance" or otherwise acceptable sunk cost. well, god bless. I'm not one bit "cool with" being fronted about my jus solis, especially as a veteran. But that's a "we all have a hill to die on/to each their own" type of thing, so I digress.
 
The whole “call ahead” needs to go away. We don’t have to do that to walk or drive across the border. I have written to my Congressmen, but nothing ever changes and the people I vote for never win. Sigh.
I agree, but you do have to stop at the border when you drive, and I suspect it's illegal to cross on foot without notifying them.
 
I agree, but you do have to stop at the border when you drive, and I suspect it's illegal to cross on foot without notifying them.
Yes, but I don't have to call ahead to the entry point in Texas before I depart Monterrey, MX. I just show up and wait my turn. I don't have to notify CBP in Key West before my boat departs Grand Cayman. They just get a heads-up when we're near arrival. Why not one of these two for GA? Especially since aircraft are SIGNIFICANTLY easier to track than cars, individuals, and/or ships.
 
Yes, but I don't have to call ahead to the entry point in Texas before I depart Monterrey, MX. I just show up and wait my turn.
"Keep circling and wait your turn, the expected wait time is three hours."

"But I only have two hours of fuel left."
 
"Keep circling and wait your turn, the expected wait time is three hours."

"But I only have two hours of fuel left."
I was thinking more like, "taxi to Customs ramp for inspection" but yeah...this is CBP (i.e. Federal Gov't) we're talking about.
 
I was thinking more like, "taxi to Customs ramp for inspection"

This wouldn't work at many airports since they don't staff all CBP offices at airports. For example, KIAG is where I crossed last time. I talked to the officer a bit over the phone when I announced my arrival the day prior and he said they don't actually have any staff at the airport. If they know someone is due to arrive there (hence the call ahead request with ETA), they will send someone either from the land border or from KBUF. I know a lot of the airports of entry along the Canadian border operate in similar fashion where they'll either send an officer from the land border or a nearby larger airport if there is one.
 
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