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Decisions 2005: Customs

Transborder carriers can expect to get hit with the second part of the security double whammy in 2005. While US Customs, understandably, has been quicker off the mark in implementing strict new border security measures since 9/11, the Canadian Bor...


Transborder carriers can expect to get hit with the second part of the security double whammy in 2005. While US Customs, understandably, has been quicker off the mark in implementing strict new border security measures since 9/11, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is expected to be following suit with new requirements for Canadian imports, and the carriers hauling them, in 2005.

By the final quarter of 2005 or perhaps later (the exact date is still up in the air) shippers will be expected to provide mandatory electronic data about the cargo traveling on trucks coming into Canada from the US. The data must be received one hour prior to arrival at the border for non-FAST (Free and Secure Trade) shipments. For FAST shipments, there will be no advance reporting required for Canada-bound shipments.

The prenotification requirements for truck shipments are tentatively slated to kick in November 2005, but Rick Dale, in charge of the Advance Commercial Information project (ACI) for Canada, cautions there could be delays.

Secondary cargo data (eg. truck manifests) will be required for all modes eventually, Dale adds.

“The phasing in of (the truck phase of ACI) and the secondary cargo data requirements will not require any legislative changes, just regulatory changes,” was all Dale would say.

Carriers will eventually be required to electronically transmit cargo data, he said.

CBSA will then transmit back an acknowledgement of receipt of the data to the sender. At the border, the inspector will receive a “release,” “failure” or “hold for inspection” message regarding the load.

Meanwhile, there’s also an assortment of issues to be worked out over the coming year affecting hauls into the US. Particularly problematic at the moment is a new rule requiring all landed immigrants, including truck drivers who have their FAST cards, to be fingerprinted and photographed when crossing into the US.

Despite repeated questioning following his address to the recent Ontario Trucking Association annual conference, US ambassador Paul Cellucci could offer little solid information regarding how US Customs plans to roll out the program.

Cellucci did, however, say he doesn’t expect landed immigrant drivers who currently carry I-94 waivers will be fingerprinted and photographed every time they cross the border.

“US Customs is not interested in causing back ups at the border,” Cellucci said. “US Customs will adopt a policy of informed compliance regarding the enforcement of FAST card registration for drivers and I expect there will be a similar policy for the US-VISIT program requirements,” was all Cellucci would say.

And Cellucci would not say how long that informed compliance policy would be in effect.

Another concern revolves around US Customs’ new rule requiring BRASS (Border Release Advance Screening and Selectivity) drivers to also have FAST cards. The deadline for that was Nov. 15 but US Customs is currently practicing “informed compliance” when enforcing the new rule. Cellucci would not specify how long the “education” period will last and when fines would start.

About half of all loads crossing the Canada-US border are BRASS shipments but only 23,000 of the approximately 90,000 truck drivers engaged in cross-border trucking are registered for FAST. That means only about 25% of Canadian truck drivers are currently qualified to carry BRASS shipments across the border. As of late October, another 11,000 were awaiting interviews and a further 13,000 were elsewhere in the processing system.

“If the issuance of FAST cards is slower than we think it will be, we are ready to extend the period of informed compliance further. All US government officials understand the need to keep traffic at the border moving while instituting these increased security requirements,” Cellucci said.

As for special accreditation for drivers of hazardous materials, Cellucci said the method by which Canadian drivers will be accredited has not been determined yet. He did indicate, however, that Canadians with certain criminal convictions under US law will not be accredited to carry hazmat.

The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) has also issued regulations requiring all drivers with US State and District of Columbia-issued commercial drivers licences to undergo a background check when applying for or renewing their hazmat endorsement on their licences effective Jan. 31, 2005.


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