Section 4. International Operations and Messages

  1. Title 19 of the U.S. CFR, Part 122 contains Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) regulations, which require APIS manifests to be submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for all private aircraft arriving from or departing for a foreign port or place. APIS regulations also require that electronic notices of arrival and departure as well as electronic manifests relative to travelers (passengers and crew) be submitted to CBP within specific timeframes. For detailed information on the APIS regulations, see Advance Information on Private Aircraft Arriving and Departing the United States, 73 Fed. Reg. 68,295 (Nov. 18, 2008) (19 CFR 122.22). This publication, along with other resources, is available at In addition, 14 CFR and ICAO require flight plans for all civilian aircraft operation between the U.S. and foreign locations. International flight plan information and ADIZ penetration requirements are listed in other publications (for example, the AIM, the AIP, 14 CFR 91, and 14 CFR 99).
  2. This section provides guidance to FSS facilities when transmitting international flight movement messages. It incorporates relevant information from ICAO and 14 CFR documents. All personnel required to handle international messages must be familiar with ICAO documents containing instructions for preparing and transmitting communications through the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN) circuits. These documents should be retained at facilities. FSS personnel must not act as agents for any aircraft operating or dispatching company.


International telecommunications instructions are in the International Standards and Recommended Practices, ICAO Annex 10 - Aeronautical Telecommunications, Volume II. PANS ATM DOC 4444, Procedures for Air Navigation Services, lists various ATS movement messages. Location indicators are contained in ICAO Document 7910, and Designators for Aircraft Operating Agencies, Aeronautical Authorities and Services are contained in ICAO DOC 8585. FAA policies concerning acceptance of messages for international transmission are contained in 14 CFR 189.

  1. Address the message to the proper FSS gateway facility/sector for handling. FSSs that transmit only occasional international messages or are unable to determine the correct addressing for all air traffic units concerned may refer or transfer the pilot to the proper gateway facility/sector. The FSS gateway facility/sector and their areas of responsibilities are as follows:
  1. Miami FSS sector (MIA): Africa, Bermuda, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, North Atlantic, and South America.
  2. Kenai FSS (ENA): Alaska.
  3. Honolulu (HNL)/Oakland (OAK) sectors: Pacific.
  4. Seattle sector (SEA): Pacific Northwest to Alaska.
  1. To ensure that the FSS gateway facility/sector understands your request, include T (transmit) instructions in the first line of text.



  1. Use of FAA Form 7233-4 is mandatory for all IFR flights that will depart U.S. controlled airspace and enter international airspace. The filer is responsible for providing the information required in items 3 through 19.

ATS messages, as used in this section, is a generic term meaning and including: flight information, alerting, air traffic advisory, and ATC services.


The following ATS messages, with their normal priority indicators, are authorized for transmission by any means (for example, AFTN, NADIN, interphone, computer‐to‐computer, or via the aeronautical mobile communications service), as applicable.

  1. Emergency messages.
  1. Distress messages and distress traffic, including alerting messages (ALR) relating to distress (DETRESFA) phase-SS.
  2. Urgency messages, including alerting messages relating to an alert (ALERFA) phase or to an uncertainty (INCERFA) phase-SS.
  3. Other messages concerning known or suspected emergencies which do not fall under subparagraphs 6-4-3a1 and 6-4-3a2 and radio communications failure messages-FF or higher as required.
  1. Movement and control messages.
  1. Flight plan (FPL)-FF.
  2. Amendment and coordination messages.
  1. Departure (DEP)-FF.
  2. Delay (DLA)-GG.
  3. Arrival (ARR)-GG.
  4. Boundary estimate (EST)-FF.*
  5. Modification (CHG)-FF.*
  6. Coordination (CDN)-FF.*
  7. Acceptance (ACP)-FF.*
  1. Cancellation (CNL)-GG.*
  2. Clearances, flow control (SPL, CHG, CDN)-FF or DD.*
  3. Transfer of control (TCX)-FF.*
  4. Requests (RQS)-FF.*
  5. Position reports (AIREP)-FF.*
  1. Flight information messages.
  1. Traffic information-FF.*
  2. Meteorological information (MET)-FF or GG.
  3. Operation of aeronautical facilities and essential airport information (NOTAM)-GG.
    * Normally exchanged between ATC units via voice circuits.
  1. NADIN immediately generates a service message to an originator when incorrect code or routing indicators are detected.



  1. Assign the appropriate priority indicator to international service messages. When service messages refer to messages previously transmitted, assign the same priority prefix. Identify a service message by inserting “SVC” as the first item of the text.


SVC. RUMES 231015


International messages are generally introduced on NADIN for relay to AFTN circuits.

  1. Operational systems use the ICAO flight plan or SVC-B message formats as described in the operational system operating procedures.
  2. Handle international messages on NADIN for relay to AFTN as follows:
  1. Start of message. New line key.
  2. Preamble (priority, space, addressee(s)).
  1. Priority. Two‐character precedence field.
  2. Addressee(s). Not to exceed 69 characters or 7 addressees, each addressee separated by a space.
  3. End of line (EOL). New line key.
  4. End of text (EOT). Enter function.
  1. Air traffic service messages are interchanged in the international air traffic control system in the following modes:
  1. The preferred step‐by‐step mode wherein each ACC/ARTCC sends forward the full current (updated) flight plan information as the flight progresses.
  2. The simultaneous mode wherein information extracted from the filed FPL is sent simultaneously to all ATS units along the route of flight. In this mode, only amendments to the FPL, plus necessary control information, are forwarded from ARTCC to ARTCC as the flight progresses.
  1. Prepare and transmit ATS messages as described below. Address these messages as follows:
  1. Include an eight‐character addressee indicator for each addressee. When the number of addressees required is more than the operational system parameters allow, two or more transmissions of the message must be made. The eight‐letter combination addressee indicators are composed as follows:
  1. The four‐letter ICAO location indicator (for example, MPTO). Use only those listed in ICAO DOC 7910 (Location Indicators). Some ICAO eight‐character addressees for Mexico and Canada are listed in FAA Order JO 7350.9, Location Identifiers.
  2. A four‐letter designator for the facility type/office, or if no designator has been assigned, affix YXYX for military, ZZZX for aircraft in‐flight, or YYYX for all other cases (for example, MTPPYYYX) (see note).


ICAO DOC 8585, Designators for Aircraft Operating Agencies, Aeronautical Authorities and Services.


The most frequently used and authorized designators are:
YAYX Government Civil Aviation Authority (FAA Regional Office or Headquarters).
YCYX Rescue Coordination Center (RCC).
YDYX Authority Supervising the Aerodrome.
YFYX Aeronautical Fixed Station (FSS/IATSC).
YMYX Meteorological Office (NWS).
YNYX International NOTAM Office (NOF).
YTYX Telecommunications Authority.
YWYX Military Flight Operational Control Center.
YXYX Military Organization (BASOPS).
YYYX Organization not allocated a two-letter designator.
ZOZX Oceanic Air Traffic Control Center.
ZPZX Air Traffic Service Reporting Office.
ZQZX Computer Facility at ACC/ARTCC.
ZRZX ACC/ARTCC. (Center in charge of a FIR/UIR when the message is relevant to a VFR flight (AMIS)).
ZTZX Aerodrome Control Tower.
ZZZX Aircraft in-flight.

  1. A one‐letter designator will appear following an air carrier designator to indicate the department or division of the organization addressed.
  1. Filing time. A six‐digit date/time group indicating the time the message is filed with the FSS for transmission.
  1. Originator indicator. Consists of an eight‐letter sequence similar to an address indicator, identifying the place of origin and the organization originating the message.
  2. Supplementary address and origin information. When the four-letter designators YXYX, ZZZX, or YYYX are used, identify the aircraft operator or organization at the beginning of the text preceding the start-of-ATS data symbol (- -), in the same order as in the addressee(s) and/or originator indicator(s). Where there is more than one such insertion, the last should be followed by the word “stop.” Where there are one or more insertions in respect to addressee indicators plus an insertion in respect to the originator indicator, the word “from” is to appear before that relating to the originator.
  3. When addressing flight plan messages or related amendments and flight plan cancellation messages to ARTCCs, use one of the four‐letter designators as follows:
  1. If message is relevant to IFR and:
  1. The ARTCC is computer‐equipped (U.S. ARTCCs), use ZQZX.
  2. The ARTCC is not computer‐equipped, use ZRZX.
  3. Relevant to oceanic operations, use ZOZX.


Some ARTCCs may request specific addressing different from above. ZTZX and ZPZX are used internationally but are not used in internal U.S. application.

  1. If message is VFR (AMIS), use ZRZX.
  2. If SVC or administrative, use ZRZX.
  1. Messages for ATS purposes may be originated with ATS units by aircraft in‐flight, or, through local arrangements, a pilot, the operator, or their designated representative.
  2. Accept air‐filed flight plans or changes in destination information from aircraft inbound from foreign locations and, if requested by the pilot, enter customs notification service.
  3. Do not accept round‐robin flight plans to international locations.


FSS specialists must log a double (2) count for round‐robin flight plans.

  1. Do not accept assumed departure flight plans when the destination is in a foreign country other than Canada.
  2. Pilots, operators, or their designated representative must originate aircraft movement, control, and flight information messages for purposes other than ATS, such as operational control.
  1. Addressing the flight plan is determined by the point of departure, the destination, and the FIR boundaries to be penetrated during the course of the flight.
  2. Address IFR FPL messages to the ARTCC serving the airport of departure and to all ATS units (including oceanic) providing air traffic control service or concerned with flight along part or the whole of the route to be flown except FAA ATCTs and other conterminous U.S. ARTCCs.
  3. For flights where the destination is in Canada, address only the initial and final ATS units. It is not necessary to address each FIR through which the flight will operate.


Within the North Atlantic (NAT) region, FPLs on turbo jet aircraft transiting the control areas of Gander Oceanic, New York Oceanic, Reykjavik, Santa Maria Oceanic, Shanwick Oceanic, and Sondrestrom (south of 70 degrees), within 90 NM of the control area boundary, must be addressed to the adjacent ACC to provide lateral separation. For all other aircraft, a 120 NM proximity limit applies.

  1. Flight plans and associated messages for all IFR flights, including the IFR portions of mixed IFR/VFR flights, entering, overflying, or departing the EUROCONTROL Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System (IFPS) Zone (IFPZ), must be addressed only to the two IFPS addresses for that portion of the flight within the IFPZ: EUCHZMFP and EUCBZMFP. IFPS will ensure distribution of the accepted flight plan to all relevant ATS units within their area of responsibility. For more information on the IFPZ, go to:‐initial‐flight‐plan‐processing‐system.


Detailed procedures and information applicable to flight plan addressing and distribution are contained in the EUROCONTROL “Network Operations HANDBOOK - IFPS User's Manual.”

  1. Transmit all IFR FPLs to ARTCCs no less than one hour prior to the proposed departure time. Do not hold FPLs until after departure time and transmit as a combined FPL and departure (DEP) message. Separate FPL and DEP messages must be transmitted.


IFR ICAO flight plans do not require an acknowledgement to the transmitting facility.

  1. Address aircraft movement messages only to those ATS units responsible for the provision of relevant service, except when requested by the operator concerned, these messages, when transmitted via the AFTN, may also be routed, as specified by the operator or a representative to:
  1. One addressee at the point of intended landing or point of departure.
  2. Not more than two operational control units concerned.
  1. The ARTCC serving the departure airport must transmit the DEP message on IFR aircraft to all known recipients of the FPL message. Flights between conterminous U.S. and Canada (excluding Gander Oceanic), Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico do not require DEP messages. Discontinuance of DEP messages affecting the route of flight can only be accomplished by an ICAO Regional Air Navigation Agreement.
  1. All flights that depart U.S. controlled airspace and enter airspace controlled by a foreign Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) must use FAA Form 7233-4, International Flight Plan, (see Appendix A) the ICAO Model Flight Plan Form in ICAO DOC 4444, or an electronic equivalent. DoD/military may still use DD Form 1801, Military International Flight Plan. The flight plan filer is responsible for providing the information required in items 3 through 19. DoD/military may still use FAA Form 7233-1 or DD Form 175 within U.S. controlled airspace. Civilian filers of stereo route flight plans may also use FAA Form 7233-1.
  2. The procedure described in subparagraph 6-4-9a also applies to all flight plans originating within or transiting Pacific FIRs and flying to or from FIRs beyond the Pacific region including the North American (NAM) region.


The NAM Region encompasses the conterminous U.S., Alaska, and Canada to the North Pole.

  1. When paper forms are used, record on the form the time the flight plan was filed. This time will constitute evidence of the pilot's intention to comply with customs, immigration, and public health requirements and will be made available upon request from these authorities.

The following are examples of ICAO message types most likely to appear on AFTN/NADIN circuits. The number above the data corresponds to the field type numbers on the flight plan form (FAA Form 7233-4) and on the chart of Standard ATS Messages and Their Composition, Appendix A.

  1. Departure message (DEP). ARTCCs are the designated ATS unit responsible for originating and transmitting DEP messages on all IFR aircraft departing airports within their ARTCC boundaries. IFR flight plans must be transmitted to ARTCCs at least one hour before departure. This allows ARTCCs to determine recipients of DEP message when domestic portions are transmitted to ARTCCs in an automated format. Do not hold FPLs and combine with DEP into a single message.
  2. Proposed flight plan messages.
  1. IFR FPL. ARTCCs are the designated ATS units responsible for originating and transmitting DEP messages on all IFR aircraft departing airports within their ARTCC boundaries. IFR flight plans must be transmitted to ARTCCs at least one hour before departure. This allows ARTCCs to determine recipients of DEP message when domestic portions are transmitted to ARTCCs in an automated format. Do not hold FPLs and combine with DEP into a single message.
  2. VFR FPL. The FSS or contracted flight plan filing service is responsible for transmitting DEP messages on VFR aircraft.
  1. Delay (DLA) message. Transmitted when departure of an aircraft, for which an FPL message has been transmitted, is postponed or delayed more than 30 minutes after the estimated time of departure contained in the FPL.
  2. Alerting (ALR) message. Relating to an overdue situation on an aircraft.
  3. Supplementary flight plan (SPL). Information must be sent to ATS units that transmit request supplementary flight plan (RQS) messages.
  4. Arrival (ARR) message. Sent only on Canadian MOT, U.S. DOT, or FAA aircraft or upon request.
  5. Current flight plan (CPL) message. Originated by and transmitted in a step‐by‐step mode between successive ACCs and between the last ACC to the control at the airport of intended landing. CPLs contain only information relevant to that portion of the route of flight which extends from the point of entry into the next control area or FIR to the airport of intended landing.
  6. Acceptance (ACP) message. Transmitted when the data contained in a CPL message are found to be acceptable to the receiving ACC.
  7. Flight plan cancellation (CNL) message. Transmitted when a CPL or filed FPL message was transmitted and the flight is canceled.
  1. Assume departure station duties when a flight plan change is received from an aircraft en route to a foreign location.


FAA Order JO 7110.10, Para 6-2-11, Major Flight Plan Changes from En Route Aircraft.
FAA Order JO 7110.10, Para 6-2-12, Change in ETA.

  1. An FSS receiving a VFR flight plan cancellation report from aircraft en route to a foreign location must transmit a cancellation message to the appropriate foreign tie‐in facility.


FAA Order JO 7110.10, Para 6-2-13, Flight Plan Closure.


The Aeronautical Mobile Communications Service (AMCS) uses a long‐range air/ground communications network to provide high frequency (HF) voice communications to en route aircraft in oceanic airspace in support of ATC. AMCS involves relaying ATC clearances, ATC instructions, and aircraft position reports. The FAA contracts this service to Collins Aerospace to operate two aeronautical radio stations: New York Radio and San Francisco Radio. Flight operators separately hold contracts with Collins to provide aeronautical operational control/dispatch communications services via shorter-range VHF radio transmitters, as well as long-distance operational control via HF radios. FAA FSS may be required to relay information on a case‐by‐case basis.

  1. Aircraft reports, or AIREPs, are messages from an aircraft to a ground station. AIREPs are normally comprised of the aircraft's position, time, flight level, ETA over its next reporting point, destination ETA, fuel remaining in time, and meteorological information. When recording an AIREP on data terminals or written copy, the following procedures must be used.
  1. Each line must begin at the left margin.
  2. A new line must be used for each transmission.
  3. If communications allow, each report must contain the following items in the order shown:
  1. Message type aerodrome reference point (ARP).
  2. Call sign of the calling station (aircraft).
  3. Text of the message.
  4. Call sign of the station called or receiving station followed by the appropriate abbreviation to indicate received, read back, or no reply heard.
  5. Call sign of station(s) acknowledging intercept followed by appropriate abbreviation to indicate received.
  6. Designation of frequency used.


*2866QM 8903VO 13300YH
2932QI *5631TY 11384XM
2998QL 6532UA 13294YF
5628TO 10048WH 17904ZC
*For Alaskan domestic use only.

  1. Time in UTC of the communication.
  1. Missing parts of the message text must be indicated by the letter “M.”


ARP CPC583 KBRO 2100 F330 MMTM 2128
ETA XMMMX 2248 FUEL 0324

  1. AIREPs may be filed from any aircraft in-flight within WMO areas of responsibility in conformity with ICAO requirements for position, operational, or meteorological reporting in AIREP format. AIREP information must be disseminated to ATC, company, and meteorological offices as required. AIREPs consist of three sections comprised of 12 items. AIREPs may be filed in one, two, or three sections as follows:
  1. Section 1, routine report. A position report (PSNRP) comprising the Message Type Designator -ARP and the following items:
  1. Item 1, aircraft identification.
  2. Item 2, position. Record position in latitude (degrees as two numerics, or degrees and minutes as four numerics, followed without a space by N or S) and longitude (degrees as three numerics, or degrees and minutes as five numerics, followed without a space by E or W) or as a significant point identified by a coded designator (two‐to‐five characters) or as a significant point followed by a magnetic bearing (three numerics) and a distance in nautical miles (three numerics) from the point, such as 4620N07805W, 4620N078W, 46N078W, LN, MAY or DUB180040. Precede significant point by ABM (abeam), if applicable.
  3. Item 3, time. Record time in hours and minutes UTC (four numerics). The time recorded must be the actual time of the aircraft at the position and not the time of origination or transmission of the report.
  4. Item 4, flight level or altitude. Record flight level as “F” followed by three numerics when on standard pressure altimeter setting, such as F370. Record altitude in meters followed by M, or in feet followed by “FT,” when on QNH. Record “ASC” (level) when climbing, or “DES” (level) when descending to a new level after passing the significant point.
  5. Item 5, next position and time over. Record the next reporting point and the estimated time over such reporting point, or record the estimated position that will be reached one hour later, according to the position reporting procedures in effect. Use the data conventions specified in subparagraph 6-4-13b1(b), Item 2, Position, for position. Record time in minutes past the hour (two numbers) or in hours and minutes UTC (four numbers) when necessary.


PSNRP portion of AIREP prepared by De Ridder and addressed to Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPC) in Toronto and Mexico City:
ARP CPC583 KBRO 2100 F370 MMTM28

  1. Section 2, when reported by the pilot.
  1. Item 6, ETA. Record ETA by the four‐letter location indicator of the airport of first intended landing, or if no location indicator exists, the name of the airport followed by the estimated time of arrival at this aerodrome in hours and minutes UTC (four‐digit numeric).
  2. Item 7, endurance. Record fuel in hours and minutes (four‐digit numeric).
  1. Section 3. A full AIREP comprising a PSNRP, company information, and en route meteorological information.
  1. Item 8, air temperature. Record PS (plus) or MS (minus), no space, followed by the temperature in degrees centigrade corrected for instrument error and airspeed, such as MS05.
  2. Item 9, spot wind or mean wind and position. Spot wind is used whenever practicable and normally refers to the position given in subparagraph 6-4-13b1(b), Item 2, position. When a spot wind is given for any other location, record its position. Whenever it is impracticable to record spot wind, record the mean wind between two fixes, followed by the word “mean,” and the position of the midpoint between the two fixes. Record wind direction in degrees true (three‐digit numeric) and wind speed in knots (two or three‐digit numeric), separated by an oblique stroke, such as 345/55. Record the direction of variable winds of a given strength as VRB, such as VRB/10. Record light and variable winds or calm as LV. If wind position is required, record latitude and longitude to the nearest whole degree, using the data convention specified in Item 2, such as 22N180W.


AIREP comprised of PSNRP and aircraft operator information:
ARP CPC583 KBRO 2100 F370 MMTM28
MMMX 2248 FUEL 0324

  1. Item 10, turbulence (TURB). Record severe turbulence as TURB SEV and moderate turbulence as TURB MOD. If turbulence is experienced in cloud, add INC (in cloud). If in subsonic flight, report severe turbulence as soon as possible after occurrence. This requires AIREP SPECIAL. Record and report moderate turbulence only if encountered within last 10 minutes prior to reaching position in subparagraph 6-4-13b1(b), Item 2, Position. If in transonic or supersonic flight, report severe or moderate turbulence as soon as possible after occurrence. This requires AIREP SPECIAL.
  2. Item 11, icing. Record severe icing as ICE SEV, moderate icing as ICE MOD. Report severe icing as soon as possible after occurrence. This requires AIREP SPECIAL. Record and report moderate icing only if encountered within last 10 minutes prior to reaching position in subparagraph 6-4-13b1(b), Item 2, Position.
  3. Item 12, supplementary information. Record data which in the opinion of the pilot‐in‐command are of aeronautical interest.
  1. Present weather. Rain (RA), snow (SN), freezing rain (FZRA), funnel cloud (FC) waterspout or tornado (+FC), thunderstorm (TS) on or near flight path, front (FRONT).
  2. Clouds. If heights of cloud bases and/or tops can be accurately ascertained, amount of clouds scattered (SCT) if clear intervals predominate, broken (BKN) if cloud masses predominate, or continuous (CNS) type of clouds only if cumulonimbus (CB), and an indication of the bases (BASE) and/or the tops (TOP) together with the respective height indication F (number) or (number) or (number) M/ or (number) FT.
  3. Turbulence and icing. Moderate turbulence (TURB MOD) if in subsonic flight, or moderate aircraft icing (ICE MOD) observed prior to the last 10 minutes.
  4. D-Value. Reading or radio altimeter minus reading of pressure altimeter set to 1013.2 millibars and corrected for calibration and position error; record differences as plus (PS) or minus (MS), no space, followed by the number of meters or feet.


FF CYYZCPCX MMMXXMZT KMIAYMYX 162215 TJSJYFYX ARP CPC583 2709N05415W 2212 F330 23N056W 59 0035 FUEL 0324 M534 310/60 MEAN 2543N05532W TURB MOD ICE MOD SCT CB TOP F280 TJSJ RB TO2214


Transmit to the WMO office serving the FIR where the report is made.

  1. Operationally significant weather radar echoes (echo or echo line). True bearing of center of echo or line and distance from aircraft in nautical miles; if appropriate, indicate weather intensifying or weakening and whether no gaps, some gaps, or frequent gaps are observed.
  2. Significant differences between conditions encountered and those forecast for the flight, such as forecast thunderstorms not observed or freezing rain not forecast.
  3. If the position of the phenomenon reported is not the same as the position given under subparagraph 6-4-13b1(b), Item 2, Position, report it after the phenomenon.
  1. Turbulence. TURB SEV encountered while in subsonic flight is reported as soon as possible after occurrence and requires an AIREP SPECIAL (ARS). TURB MOD is reported only if encountered within 10 minutes prior to reaching reporting position. If in transonic or supersonic flight, TURB MOD and SEV is reported as soon as possible and requires an ARS.
  2. Icing. ICE SEV is reported as soon as possible after occurrence and requires an ARS. ICE MOD is reported only if encountered within last 10 minutes prior to reaching reporting position.


ARS PAA101 5045N02015W 1536 F310 ASC
F350 51N030W 21 FUEL 0900 ICE SEV


ARTCC operators must relay all international VFR flight movement messages to the adjacent FSS unless that facility is also an addressee.


If an overseas unit erroneously routes a VFR movement message to an ARTCC, the automatic NADIN switch will not divert it to an FSS.