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TSA announces background check extension for foreign HAZMAT drivers

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Canadian carriers and truck drivers can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief now that the U.S. Tran...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Canadian carriers and truck drivers can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief now that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced its intention to extend the Feb. 10 deadline for background checks of foreign drivers of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) until Aug. 10.

The requirement is currently being phased in for U.S. HAZMAT drivers, who must pass a background security check before obtaining or renewing their hazardous materials endorsements on their commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs). A similar endorsement for Canadian HAZMAT truck drivers is problematic unlike HAZMAT drivers in the U.S., Canadian drivers are not required to have a HAZMAT endorsement on their commercial driver licences.

Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) long ago proposed the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) driver card as a means to allow foreign driver compliance with the background check requirement for HAZMAT drivers. (FAST applicants must also be fingerprinted and have background checks performed and approved by the U.S. and Canada. A system to process FAST cards is already in place, and over 50,000 have been issued.)

It is expected TSA will make a further announcement regarding the use of the FAST driver card as a means for foreign HAZMAT drivers to meet its requirement.

“The extension of the deadline, and the expected announcement that the FAST card will be accepted by TSA, is great news for Canada and for Canadian carriers,” said CTA CEO, David Bradley.

“The FAST card option we proposed more than two years ago, if accepted by TSA, would not only solve the HAZMAT security check dilemma, but also add value to the FAST program. We appreciate the efforts the Government of Canada has made in support of CTA on this issue, as well as the willingness of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hear our concerns, and will continue to work with federal officials on details of implementation.”

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