US Border Overflight Exemptions: A How-to Guide

By David Mumford


Key Points
  • When arriving from south of the US, operators must make their first landing at a US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) “Designated Airport” closest to their point of border or coastline crossing. (There are actually a few exceptions, which you can read about here).
  • One way to avoid having to deal with Designated Airports is to obtain a Border Overflight Exemption (BOE).
  • CBP have a standard guide on how to apply for a BOE. We’ve also made a fun 1-page Opsicle with instructions on how to do this. Download both below ⬇️

How to Apply

It’s actually very simple. You basically just send CBP an email.

Depending on what type of BOE application you are making (new, renewal, name change) you tailor your email in slightly different ways, but there’s some standard information you need to include every time:

  • Operator Name: who you are + your contact info
  • Operator Description: whether or not you transport people or things for payment
  • Compliance Statement: you basically just state you agree to comply with CBP terms and requirements

CBP send out a standard email template to people wanting to apply for a BOE, which guides you through the process. It’s super helpful because it gives examples of exactly how your email to them should look – follow the advice in this doc and you can’t go wrong. You can download it here.

Click to download PDF.

Or for a quick-ref cribsheet of what to do, OPSGROUP members can download this Opsicle that we lovingly prepared!

Click to download PDF.

CBP say that BOE processing will take no more than thirty days, and there is no charge or fee associated with the process. Happy BOEing everyone!


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