The United States uses a two-tier flight plan filing system for most of the nation. Most pilots are only familiar with the "domestic" flight plan format. Flights which transit an international border are required by internationally agreed upon regulations to file a flight plan, whether the flight is conducted under VFR or IFR flight rules. While the formats of an "international" (ICAO) flight plan and U.S. domestic flight plan exhibit many commonalties, there are clear and distinct differences. Flights which transit the U.S./Mexico and U.S./Canadian borders via a land route, may normally be filed as a "domestic" flight plan. In contrast, U.S./Mexico or U.S./Canada flights via "oceanic" airspace, will generally require an ICAO flight plan. You may be surprised to learn that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) has no "formal course" designed to create an ICAO flight plan "expert". "International Automated Flight Service Stations" (IAFSS) provide special emphasis in this training at a local level. In truth, there is no distinction in equipment used between a conventional AFSS and an IAFSS...and any facility has the hardware to process the data. It is not uncommon for a conventional AFSS to have ICAO reference material, North Atlantic and/or Caribbean/South American Charts on hand, although there are facilities that do not have such resources... which may impede their ability to process the data.

This website is designed to be a primer / resource for pilots as well as for ATC and airline employees. Additional "input" from ATC system employees throughout the world is greatly encouraged and invited, in order to make this a more complete source of information.

In theory, a pilot should be able to file a flight plan via telephone or radio in any nation of the world and follow an identical format...and for the most part, this is true. (Many locations allow filing of ICAO flight plans by FAX). If your nation follows any "unique" practices, which you would feel an inbound pilot would benefit by knowing, please forward your comments to the below e-mail address.

Sample ICAO Flight Plan


ICAO International Flight Information Manual

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Web Site 

ICAO Aircraft Type Designators

ICAO Airport Name / Identifier Look-Up 

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Atlantic Flight Supplement

DUATS "Flight Planning Questions"

Download an ICAO Flight Plan Form

Euro Control Home Page

European Airport & Navaid Data Base

Mexico Ports Entry --- Flying to Mexico ?

Nav Canada - "Filling Out an ICAO Flight Plan"

North Atlantic General Aviation Operations (FAA)

North Atlantic Tracks (Daily Update)

U.S. Customs Web Site




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