Core Services Review

Air Services Policy Framework

The Government of Canada has implemented a policy framework for air services that is fair, transparent and flexible.

About the policy framework

Since April 1, 2009, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been using its Air Services Policy Framework to evaluate requests for expanded border clearance services at Canada's airports.

The framework sets out four tiers or categories of airports and each tier has an assigned point score. Airports are placed in one of these tiers using a formula based on the following factors:

  • international passenger volume
  • flight frequency (regularly scheduled flights)
  • the distance from the airport to the nearest CBSA service location

Stakeholders

The following stakeholder groups are affected by the introduction of this policy framework:

  • airport associations
  • airport authorities
  • airlines
  • municipalities
  • terminal operators
  • tourism industry

Definitions

Airport of entry (AOE): An authorized airport where the CBSA clears all classes of scheduled and non-scheduled aircraft (passenger and cargo).

AOE/15 (general aviation): An airport used solely for clearing persons arriving by general aviation aircraft (private, company or charter aircraft) where the flights are unscheduled and the number of passengers on each flight does not exceed 15 (including the crew). These flights must obtain CBSA approval by telephone to enter or return to Canada, and they must land at an approved AOE during CBSA hours of business.

Seasonal service: A period of a minimum of three consecutive months in which an airport receives regularly scheduled international flights.

Daily flights: Regularly scheduled flights carrying more than 15 passengers that operate 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

CBSA service location: A CBSA office that is legally designated to provide service.

Requests for service changes

Before submitting a request for service changes, airport authorities and municipalities are asked to undertake a self-assessment process to determine whether they are eligible for publicly funded border clearance services. This self-assessment is based on the criteria in the Air Services Policy Framework. All of the criteria must be met for an airport authority or municipality to be eligible.

If the self-assessment indicates that they are eligible, applicants can then request new or expanded services by sending an e-mail to the CBSA at csr-esb@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca (see the request cycle for more details on this process).

CBSA Headquarters (HQ) verifies the applicant's eligibility and sends the application to the appropriate CBSA regional office for its review and recommendation. HQ then reviews the recommendation and makes the final decision. Eligible sites are reviewed annually to confirm their eligibility for publicly funded border clearance services.

Request cycle

Step 1: Applicants conduct a self-assessment

  • If the self-assessment indicates that the site is eligible, applicants can send an e-mail to the CBSA to start the request process.
  • This e-mail should include the following information: a contact name, the name of the airport authority or municipality, contact information, annual international passenger volumes (historical data), which services are provided on a cost-recovery basis, and the annual or seasonal flight frequency.

Step 2: HQ verifies eligibility

  • HQ collects and verifies the information from the applicant. (If HQ determines that the site is not eligible at this stage, HQ will provide the rationale to the applicant and notify the appropriate CBSA regional office.)
  • HQ confirms the distance from the airport to the nearest CBSA service location and determines which tier the airport belongs to.
  • HQ submits the application to the appropriate CBSA regional office for review.

Step 3: Regional review

  • The regional office develops a business case for new or expanded services at the requested site.
  • The regional office sends its recommendation to HQ.

Step 4: Final decision

  • Based on the recommendation from the regional office, HQ makes the final decision.
  • The final decision is sent to the airport authority or municipality by the appropriate CBSA regional office.

Airport tiers: level descriptions and point scores

Tier 1: 86 to 100 points

  • The airport is eligible to receive a minimum of 16 hours of publicly funded border clearance services seven days a week (16-7), to a maximum of 24 hours daily, seven days a week (24-7), based on specific needs.
  • The CBSA may provide 24-7 services at this airport on a seasonal basis only.
  • The airport is a large-volume international airport with daily scheduled international flights.
  • The airport handles a minimum of 50,000 international passengers each year.
  • The airport is located within 25 kilometres of the nearest CBSA service location.

Seasonal charters: the airport must receive regularly scheduled international flights outside core service hours over a period of a minimum of three consecutive months to obtain 24-7 service.

Tier 2: 46 to 85 points

  • The airport is eligible to receive up to 16-7 hours of publicly funded border clearance services and receives regularly scheduled international flights daily.
  • Any additional requirements of the airport are subject to cost recovery.
  • The airport handles a minimum of 5,000 international passengers each year.
  • The airport is located within 100 kilometres of the nearest CBSA service location.

Seasonal charters: the airport must handle a minimum of 5,000 international passengers per charter season and must be located within 25 kilometres of the nearest CBSA service location.

Tier 3: 26 to 45 points

  • The airport is eligible to receive up to eight hours of publicly funded border clearance services seven days a week or seasonal border clearance services if it has regularly scheduled international flights.
  • The airport handles a minimum of 2,500 international passengers each year.
  • The airport is located within 100 kilometres of the nearest CBSA service location.

Seasonal charters: the airport must handle a minimum of 2,500 international passengers per charter season and must be located within 50 kilometres of the nearest CBSA service location.

Tier 4: 25 points or less

  • The airport offers AOE/15 (general aviation) services and occasionally offers charter or special services (e.g. for a golf tournament).

The CBSA aims to maintain current levels of service for this tier. Any requests for new services could be met on a cost-recovery basis provided that sufficient CBSA resources are available to accommodate the request.

Airport service level criteria

Criterion 1:  Annual international passenger volume at the airport

No. of international passengers Point value
0 0
2,500 12
5,000 24
20,000 36
50,000 48
100,000 60

Criterion 2: Distance to the nearest CBSA service location

Distance in kilometres Point value
0 20
25+ 12
50+ 6
100+ 0

Criterion 3: Frequency of arriving international flights

Flight frequency Point value
Daily 20
Seasonal 9
General aviation 0

Maximum point value per criteria

Criteria Total possible points
Passenger volume 60
Distance 20
Flight frequency 20
Total 100

Notes

  1. AOE/15 (general aviation) airports cannot qualify for tiers 1, 2 or 3 regardless of volume because they do not have any regularly scheduled flights.
  2. No points are awarded for passenger volume if the airport is used solely for general aviation aircraft; therefore, AOE/15 (general aviation) airports can have a maximum of 20 points.
  3. The applicant's data should reflect all of the international air passengers who are processed by the CBSA at that location.
  4. A 100 kilometer distance was implemented as the policy standard as a result of consultations that revealed geographical inhibitors when considering the worst of weather conditions. This is considered the optimal distance for CBSA officers to travel to provide verification services when taking into account these factors.
  5. The scenarios listed under each tier set out what is required to attain the minimum score; however, not all possible scenarios are listed under each tier.
  6. Airports processing less than 1,000 passengers each year are automatically classified under Tier 4.
  7. All criteria must be met for a site to be eligible for new or expanded services and international passenger volumes must be verified.
  8. For tiers 2 and 3, the hours of service are determined by the appropriate CBSA regional office in consultation with the applicant.
Date modified: