U.S. and Canada sign new border deal for customs clearance

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 3/17/2015

U.S. and Canadian trucks will soon be able to clear customs on their own sides of the border before going across.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney signed the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance on Monday, March 16. It lays the legal framework for both countries to expand customs pre-clearance by placing U.S. customs officials on the Canadian side and Canadian customs officials on the U.S. side at land border crossings.

Customs pre-clearance has worked at a select group of airports. The latest agreement expands pre-clearance to all land, rail, marine and air transport between the two countries, pending legislative approval.

The two countries initiated a pilot program on the West Coast in 2013 that featured cargo pre-inspection stations on the Pacific Highway crossing at Surrey, British Columbia, and Blaine, Wash. A second pilot program put pre-clearance stations at the Peace Bridge that links Port Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, N.Y.

According to the Government of Canada, approximately 400,000 people and $2 billion worth of goods and services cross the border by land each day.

Various border security initiatives have been proposed since 2001 including passport requirements and electronic manifests for truck cargo.

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