On December 7, 2011, Canada and the United States agreed to implement the Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness (Action Plan) designed to speed up legitimate trade and travel and improve security in North America. The goal is to further facilitate the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved commercial carriers, importers as well as travellers.
In the Action Plan, Canada and the U.S. commit to enhancing the benefits of programs that help trusted businesses move efficiently across the border. As a result, Canada is launching a pilot at the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, Ontario to allow members of Partners in Protection (PIP) and Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) programs to use the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes/booths without having to be members of both programs, as is currently the case. This pilot will align Canada’s eligibility requirements with those of the U.S.
During the pilot, trusted traders will benefit from further reduced border wait times by being able to access the FAST lane and bypass any border congestion. This lowers the cost of doing business across the border.
FAST was first implemented in December 2002 for commercial drivers, importers and carriers, to expedite movement of eligible goods through a dedicated FAST lane and/or booth at major border crossings.
FAST is a joint initiative of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that enhances border and trade chain security while making cross-border movements of commercial shipments simpler and subject to fewer delays.
When a FAST-approved driver arrives at the border, he or she presents three bar-coded documents to the border services officer (one for each of the participating parties: the driver, the carrier and the importer). The officer can quickly scan the bar codes while all trade data declarations and verifications are done at a later time, away from the border.
Under FAST, eligible goods arriving for approved companies and transported by approved carriers using registered drivers are cleared into Canada or the United States with greater speed and certainty, which reduces costs for FAST participants.
FAST members can use their FAST membership card as proof of identity and citizenship to enter Canada in all lanes, including regular highway lanes, even in a non-commercial vehicle.
These benefits are granted when the following conditions are met:
All FAST program participants (drivers, carriers and importers) must undergo a thorough risk assessment to be eligible to participate.
During the FAST pilot at the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, the eligibility requirements for access to the FAST lane and booths will be simplified. The aim is to increase the use of these lanes and enable the expedited movement of goods for more businesses that have proven to be trusted by the CBSA.
During the pilot, the importer and carrier need to be PIP or CSA approved (not both), and goods on board do not need to be CSA-eligible goods. However, the requirements for drivers to be registered under the Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP) or to be FAST approved remain. All FAST program participants (drivers, carriers and importers) continue to require a thorough risk assessment to become part of trusted trader programs and to remain on these programs.
The pilot will have two FAST booths and allow pilot participants access to the Trusted Trader lane across the Blue Water Bridge. The first booth will also continue to be used by existing FAST members who meet the current criteria. The second booth will be for participating PIP and CSA carriers with goods from trusted trader importers.
Signage clearly indicates which lanes and booths to use; if a participating carrier enters the wrong lane, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology will allow the CBSA to identify pilot from non-pilot participants for data collection and evaluation purposes. There are RFID readers in each of the FAST booths, so this gives the CBSA the ability to determine if the shipment was cleared in a FAST booth or a regular booth.
Fourteen carriers are participating in the FAST pilot. These self-identified participants qualified as they regularly cross the Blue Water Bridge and are transmitting information on their cargo and conveyance to the CBSA in advance of arrival via the eManifest program.
This pilot will extend FAST benefits to additional trusted traders, which means that more trusted traders will have access to FAST lanes/booths to expedite the movement of goods across the border. It will also expand the range of goods that are eligible under FAST, as the second booth will allow goods that normally do not qualify for CSA clearance, such as those with other Government of Canada department requirements.
The six-month long pilot will run until April 2013, followed by an evaluation of the pilot’s findings. At the end of the pilot, the CBSA will determine whether the new requirements will become permanent and/or implemented at other ports of entry where FAST is available.
For more information, go to the FAST Web site.