TP 15048 - Flying to Canada - What You Should Know

Canada is renowned for its thousands of square miles of pristine wilderness and its world-class cities. The spectacular scenery and wide-open spaces provide recreational flying enthusiasts with the ideal backdrop for adventure. To ensure your experience is pleasant and memorable, Transport Canada has prepared a brief summary of some of the issues to consider for transborder flight operations.

The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) require the pilot-in-command of an aircraft to be familiar with the available information that is appropriate to the intended flight. This information includes: charts, weather, NOTAMs, class of airspace, pilot and aircraft documentation, aircraft equipment, aerodrome information, and general differences between the CARs and the U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

The following information is provided as a guide only; this is not a legal document and does not cover all Canadian and U.S. regulations.

Pilot Documentation

Pilot Certificate, valid Medical Certificate
Proof of citizenship (passport, birth certificate and photo ID)

Refer to: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA): www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca 

U.S. recreational pilot certificates and sport pilot certificates are not recognized in Canada.

Licences and certificates that meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards are valid for operating aircraft between the U.S. and Canada.

Aircraft Documentation

Certificate of Registration
Weight and Balance Information
Flight Authority
Proof of Liability Insurance
Operating Limitations

The CARs require pilots to carry proof of liability insurance on board their aircraft when operating in Canadian airspace. This applies to all aircraft, including private, amateur-built and ultralight aircraft. The type of coverage is based on the aircraft’s gross take-off weight (CAR 606.02).

Weather, NOTAMs and Flight Planning

The FARs require pilots to file and activate a flight plan for all flights crossing the U.S.–Canada border, including flights “with no landing”. Pilots must communicate with Air Traffic Services (ATS) at the time of the border crossing and squawk an assigned discrete transponder code (FAR 91.707).

For weather briefings, NOTAMs, and assistance filing a flight plan, please contact NAV CANADA, which operates eight Flight Information Centres (FIC) across Canada.

Call toll-free within Canada and the U.S.:

Kamloops, British Columbia: 1-866-541-4101 Québec, Quebec: 1-866-541-4105
Edmonton, Alberta: 1-866-541-4102 Halifax, Nova Scotia: 1-866-541-4106
Winnipeg, Manitoba: 1-866-541-4103 Whitehorse, Yukon: 1-866-541-4107
London, Ontario: 1-866-541-4104 North Bay, Ontario: 1-866-541-4109

General: 1-866-WXBRIEF (Canada only)

NAV CANADA is a private, not-for-profit corporation responsible for providing civil air navigation services in Canada. Through its coast-to-coast operations, NAV CANADA provides Air Traffic Control (ATC), flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information, airport advisory services, and electronic navigation aids.

Refer to: www.navcanada.ca 

VFR Navigation

VFR Terminal Area Charts (VTA): Scale: 1:250 000 (3.5 NM/in.); major Canadian airports.

VFR Navigation Charts (VNC): Scale: 1:500 000 (7 NM/in.); similar to U.S. sectional aeronautical charts.

Canada Flight Supplement (CFS): A civil/military publication on Canadian and North Atlantic aerodromes.

Canada Water Aerodrome Supplement (CWAS): A civil/military publication on water aerodromes shown on Canadian VFR charts.

IFR Navigation

Enroute Low (LO) and High (HI) Altitude Charts: Provide IFR navigation and aeronautical information in the low and high airway structure of Canadian Domestic Airspace, the airspace over foreign territory and over international waters for which Canada accepts responsibility for the provision of ATS and other areas required for military use.

Terminal Area Charts: Provide aeronautical radio navigation information for congested terminal areas.

Canada Air Pilot (CAP) (IFR Approach Plates): Contains aeronautical information related to IFR approach, arrival, departure and noise abatement procedures at Canadian airports. Seven volumes provide coverage across Canada. The CAP General Pages (CAP GEN) provides an explanation of the terminology, definitions and special procedures depicted on the instrument approach procedure charts. Individual aeronautical charts and publications may be purchased from NAV CANADA.

Refer to: www.navcanada.ca
Tel.: 1-866-731-7827

Canadian Airspace

Canadian Domestic Airspace is divided into seven classes (CAR 601).

Aircraft require two-way radio communication when operating in Class A, B, C, or D airspace.

Class A Controlled high-level airspace; IFR only.
Class B Controlled low-level airspace (above 12 500 ft ASL, up to 18 000 ft ASL); IFR and CVFR only.
Class C Controlled airspace; IFR and VFR permitted; ATC provides separation for IFR and VFR flights, when necessary.
Class D Controlled airspace; IFR and VFR permitted; ATC provides separation for IFR aircraft only.
Class E Controlled airspace; IFR and VFR permitted; ATC provides separation for IFR aircraft only.
Class F Special-use airspace; may be controlled or uncontrolled; may be a restricted or advisory area.
Class G Uncontrolled airspace.

For detailed information on Terminal Control Areas (TCA), Control Zones (CZ) and transition areas, refer to the Designated Airspace Handbook (DAH) (TP 1820) available at www.navcanada.ca and the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual (TC AIM) (TP 14371) available at www.tc.gc.ca.

Customs—Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

  • Flights from the U.S. to Canada must land at a CBSA-authorized airport of entry (AOE). A listing of AOEs may be found on the CBSA Web site. Designated AOEs are listed in the CFS and the CWAS.
  • ADCUS notifications on flight plans are no longer accepted. Pilots must make their own customs arrangements by calling the CBSA at least 2 hours, but not more than 48 hours, prior to their arrival in Canada. The CBSA must be notified of any changes to the estimated time of arrival (ETA) or point of arrival, or of any other changes.
  • All passengers on board the aircraft must have photo identification and proof of citizenship.
  • CANPASS is a program offered by the CBSA for private aircraft entry into Canada.

Refer to: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
Tel.: 1-888-226-7277

Transponder Requirements

The U.S. Government requires aircraft to be equipped with a Mode A and Mode C transponder to cross the U.S. border in either direction (inbound or outbound). If you do not have a transponder, you must contact the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for a waiver.

Aircraft are to be equipped with a Mode C transponder when operating in Canadian Class A, B, C, D and E airspace, as specified in the DAH (TP 1820E), which is available from NAV CANADA (CAR 601.03).

Refer to: www.navcanada.ca 

Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT)

Satellite processing of distress signals on 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz was terminated on February 1, 2009. The satellites now only monitor transmitters operating on 406 MHz. ELTs are required for most general aviation aircraft (CAR 605.38).

Transport Canada Contacts

British Columbia 1-604-666-5851
Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Manitoba, Yukon,
Northwest Territories
and Nunavut*
 
1-888-463-0521 or 1-780-495-3810
Ontario* 1-800-305-2059 or 1-416-952-0230
Quebec 1-514-633-3030
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick and
Prince Edward Island*
 
1-800-387-4999 or 1-506-851-7131

*When calling from within the specified provinces, dial the first number (toll-free). When calling from outside these provinces, dial the second number.

For general information, contact the Civil Aviation Communications Centre:

Toll-free:
1-800-305-2059

Tel.:
613-993-7284

Refer to: www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/general-menu.htm