The United States and Canada are expected to announce a new cross-border deal and sign a “pre-clearance agreement” this afternoon (Monday, March 16, 2015), which could drastically change travel for the 300,000+ people who cross the border each day.
According to the U.S. Government advisory, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney will be making the pre-clearance customs agreement announcement at a Washington ceremony shortly.
A legal arrangement allowing customs agents into each other’s countries to screen passengers prior to their arrival at the border (easing choke points) has been under negotiation.
This process is already in effect for air travel at 8 airports. U.S. customs can be cleared in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Vancouver – allowing (pre-screened) travelers to skip lines at U.S. airports once they land.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama have voiced their intention to create a similar system for travel by land and sea as part if the 2011 Beyond the Border deal. Though the 2012 deadline to reach legal agreements allowing law enforcement to perform customs in the neighboring country was missed, a deal has finally been reached.
The details have not yet been confirmed by either government. However, specific hints from the U.S. side include mention of pre-clearance.
When speaking with the Canadian American Business Council last fall, Johnson stated that, “We are nearing completion of a groundbreaking pre-clearance agreement which – for the first time – will cover pre-clearance in all modes of border crossing, land, rail, marine and air.”
This deal would require:
Public Financing for Pre-Border Customs Infrastructure
Participation from the Public Sector (example: bus or train stations)
Legislation in both Countries
The deal intends to open the border to legitimate travel while still screening for criminals. Potentially allowing for a more simplified electronic filing system for shippers, as well as shared entry and exit records.