CBSA considers portable FAST stations

TORONTO, (Feb. 26, 2004) — The Canada Border Services Agency is considering portable FAST enrollment centres in order to make it easier for truck drivers to sign up for the program, as well as speed up the backlog of paperwork from current applications.

Currently, drivers wishing to be certified for the bilateral border clearance program must report to a fixed FAST Enrollment Centre located at the Canada-U.S. border to complete the final steps in the application process — which includes a face-to-face interview. CBSA has been pressured to open additional facilities or roaming centres from carriers and owner-operators who say drivers are having trouble completing the entire application process because the fixed locations are too far or create too much of a hardship to get to.

The agency is asking the industry for input with respect to whether the portable centres would be beneficial to drivers and where they would be best utilized. Carriers wishing to weigh in can contact the Ontario Trucking Association’s Betsy Sharples at

Even a small shift in applications from the fixed border centres to the portable locations may help customs and immigration officials speed up the processing of backlogged paperwork. Although FAST administrators are taking flak for having not enough offices or time in the day to process all the applications, they wish they didn’t have to return so many because of errors. The biggest problems: the driver hasn’t provided a five-year address and work history, security questions are left unanswered, and, primarily, the applicant has lied or omitted details about his criminal history.

Caroline Doyle, manager of communications and training for FAST, offers the following simple advice to drivers who want their applications processed more quickly:

Fill it out yourself: As a recruiting hook, many carriers are promising to help drivers get a FAST card if they sign on. Carriers are filling out applications on behalf of drivers, often with missing or improper information. “Even if someone else completes it, you’re the one who signs that application, and are legally responsible for what is being reported,” Doyle says.

Printing & Spelling 101: Applications are regularly returned because of illegible handwriting. Print clearly, Doyle says, or complete the application online at

Don’t lie. A driver who’s caught providing false information about past customs seizures or criminal convictions is immediately disqualified. What kind of closeted skeletons give CCRA the creeps? Drug smuggling, money laundering, weapons-related offenses, or multiple convictions of even minor crimes will shut drivers out of FAST.

“We don’t deny that some people make mistakes,” Doyle says. “Minor ones, like say, getting into a barroom brawl and getting convicted of assault 10 years ago-are we going to penalize you for that? Not likely. But again, we’re only friendly if you’re on the up and up from the start.”

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.