Photo of the USA flag

When flying to the USA, there are a number of important things to consider in terms of documentation and procedures. The paperwork can be complex, with consequences for oversights ranging from delays or fines, all the way through to trouble with the law and restrictions on future operations. It is highly recommended to cross-check all requirements with your handler in advance, to avoid any surprises on arrival.

The Jetex dispatch team has a wealth of experience in this area, and will make sure that you are kept fully up to date on any changes in regulations. There now follows a summary of some the most important points to remember.

Visa Requirements

Everyone on-board your aircraft will require visas, unless they are US nationals, permanent residents or Canadian citizens traveling for non-business purposes. All passports must be valid for the entirety of the stay, and permanent residents need to show their Green Cards. For those traveling without a visa, U.S. Customs can fine the individual concerned, the operator, or any service provider who has assisted them. All visas must be arranged in advance, as there is no visa on arrival in the U.S.

Passengers of certain nationalities may fall under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows them to enter without a visa. Any passengers who qualify must have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval, and the aircraft operator needs to be registered in the program. Only passengers can avail of this advantage, there is no VWP for crew. To learn more about the VWP, please visit the US Department of State website here.

TSA Waivers

If you have a non-U.S. registered aircraft, a TSA waiver may be required. This depends both on the flight schedule, and where the aircraft is registered. If needed, all passengers, crew and destinations must be approved on the waiver. A TSA waiver may also be required for flying over U.S. airspace, so be sure to confirm all requirements with the Jetex team in advance.


To ensure a smooth passage through Customs and Immigration, Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) must be submitted prior to arrival/departure. The full passenger and crew information must be electronically transmitted via a secured system. All details must match exactly with the traveler’s passports.

Border Overflight Exemptions (BOE)

Flights originating from below the 30th parallel are generally required to clear Customs, Immigrations and Quarantine (CIQ) at an approved Airport of Entry (AOE) near the border. It is possible to bypass this process with a Border Overflight Exemption (BOE), as long as your destination is an AOE and customs arrangements have been made in advance. BOE can be arranged for one specific trip, or on a yearly basis.

Special Requirements for Charter Operators

Charter operators must obtain customs clearance both on arrival and departure, whereas private non-revenue operations require only inbound customs clearance. A “permit to proceed” to the next destination is also required (from one airport to the next, for the full length of the U.S. travel). Charter operations to the U.S. also need to arrange a customs bond, as a guarantee of payment for any fines which may be levied by CBP.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs)

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is a short-term airspace restriction that covering a specific area around a destination. These may be issued when a major event is in progress, or for VVIP movements to certain airports. Once a TFR is issued, only authorized operators are permitted to move within the designated airspace. Such restrictions are published by NOTAMs, and are generally issued within 24-72 hours of a closure.

Route Clearance

For any aircraft which are registered in “special-interest” countries (China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Russia, and Syria), these must obtain special-route clearance prior to operating within U.S. airspace. Clearance is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Aircraft registered in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are not currently subject to these requirements. When applying for clearance, five business days advance notification is needed. Short-notice requests may be granted at the discretion of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the FAA, however it is advised to apply as early as possible. Once granted, the clearance will be valid for between 24 and 72 hours. Operators who fail to comply with these regulations can face hefty fines, or even a ban from operating in U.S. airspace.

Customs Operating Hours / Clearance Limitations

Before flying to any U.S. airport it is important to check customs operating hours, and any overtime policies. If special arrangements have been made and a delay arises, be sure to notify the local customs office immediately. Arriving outside of normal customs operating hours may result in a change of destination or delays to your trip. Additionally, note that some smaller AOEs cannot process certain non-U.S. nationals or Electronic System for Travel Authorization participants, as they do not possess the necessary equipment. In these cases, an alternative AOE may need to be considered. In order to avoid such complications, ensure that the local Customs officers are advised on the nationalities of all crew members/passengers onboard.

Flying into the USA with Jetex

Flying into the USA involves navigating some complex regulations. It is important to double-check all requirements with your flight support partner. The Jetex team has the experience and connections required to take care of all the details of your journey. Giving you peace of mind, and leaving you free to focus on the purpose of your trip.

If you have any questions about operating in America, our expert teams will be delighted to assist.

Please contact us in case of any queries:

Jetex Dubai
+971 4 2124000

Jetex Miami
+1 305 306 4000