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FAST Enrolment Slow for Canadian Importers

TORONTO, Ont. - The Canadian Trucking Alliance is urging the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to re-examine FAST membership requirements for importers to Canada.

TORONTO, Ont. – The Canadian Trucking Alliance is urging the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to re-examine FAST membership requirements for importers to Canada.

Association officials say the process for becoming FAST (Free and Secure Trade) approved is more stringent in Canada than in the U.S. They say that’s why only six importers into Canada (out of 141 applications and an estimated 150,000 importers nationwide) have been FAST approved.

Meanwhile, importers/exporters worldwide who are FAST qualified for U.S. bound cargo number 3,400. And 566 of those have Canadian addresses.

The sticking point in Canada, according to the CTA, is that importers (and carriers) must become CSA (Customs Self-Assessment) approved to qualify for the FAST program here.

John Bescec, vice-president of international trade and government relations for IE Canada (the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters) says going through the process is far from easy.

“It’s definitely more onerous for importers/exporters into Canada to join FAST than it is for importers or exporters into the U.S,” says Bescec.

“To qualify for CSA, an importer into Canada must undergo an extensive customs audit, which reviews all of the import business processes and makes recommendations on how to integrate the systems with customs requirements. You basically have to have all the software systems in place, that can do things like match the import records with the purchasing records against the payment and receipt records, etc. That’s a lot of software, and companies just don’t see the benefit of doing that yet.”

But that will change when ACI (Advanced Commercial Information) becomes mandatory, says Bescec.

ACI is the electronic prenotification requirement for Canadian Customs, which comes into effect for marine this month (April). Rail and air reporting is scheduled for April 2005, and motor carriers will have to report through ACI by fall 2005. Consultations with the trucking industry should begin this spring, says Rick Dale, project manager for Canadian Customs’ commercial re-engineering division.

Future phases of ACI will require advance electronic cargo and conveyance information for all transportation modes in accordance with the following time frames announced last year.

Rail – two hours prior to arrival;

Air – (for flights greater than four hours) – four hours prior to arrival;

Air – (for flights less than four hours) – “Wheel’s up”, at time of take off;

Highway – (for non-FAST shipments) – one hour prior to arrival; and

Highway – (for FAST shipments) – no advance reporting requirement – Canada bound.

The CBSA will also implement the requirement for mandatory electronic transmission of secondary cargo data and release data in future phases of ACI.

In the meantime, the CTA and OTA have released some other interesting numbers on FAST registration.

According to the CTA, carriers who have applied for Canadian FAST membership number 858, but only 184 have so far been approved.

Once again, the numbers for U.S. FAST approved carriers are higher, according to figures release by the OTA.

For U.S. inbound cargo, 539 FAST carriers are registered. Of these 352 have Canadian addresses and 167 are based in Ontario.

In fact, according to OTA, Canadian carriers represent 65 per cent of the total number of carrier registrations for U.S. FAST participation on the northern border.

That’s why OTA is urging even more Canadian shippers to become enrolled in the U.S. FAST program.

“Uptake on the C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, the prerequisite for the U.S. FAST) program by importer/shippers has been more widely accepted than with Canada’s CSA program,” says an OTA press release.

“However, Canadian shippers need to be more aggressive in their enrollment… Currently there are more Ontario-based carriers enrolled… than there are shippers.”

Of the 566 Canadian based shippers registered for U.S. FAST, 142 are Ontario based (compared to the167 U.S. FAST registered carriers based in Ontario), says the OTA.

Meanwhile drivers registered in the joint Canada/U.S. FAST program number 11,5000. (42,000 have applied, out of the estimated 70,000 who regular haul cross border. Another 17,000 applicants have been conditionally accepted into FAST, pending the results of their interviews with FAST officials.)

To find out more about FAST and how to register visit the following Web addresses:

For U.S. imports:

For Canadian imports:

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