The Buffalo Niagara-Falls international bridge crossings facilitate the most entries into the United States on the northern border. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2014 alone, 962,076 trucks and 5,446,904 passenger vehicles – more than 11.3 million people – used the region’s main crossings to enter the country. With these staggering numbers, it is understandable delays at the border occur. However, there are simple solutions that will mitigate your wait time and help send you on your way.
On February 4, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the United States-Canada joint declaration, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. This declaration “articulates a shared approach to security in which both countries work together to address threats within, at, and away from our borders, while expediting lawful trade and travel.” In order to accomplish this, the countries committed to adopting a common framework for trusted trade programs that would align requirements, enhance member benefits, and provide applicants with the opportunity to submit one application to multiple programs. With this in mind, the United States and Canada created the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) and NEXUS programs.
Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program
FAST is a joint initiative between the Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that enhances trade crossings while making cross-border commercial shipments simpler and subject to fewer delays.
To qualify for the FAST program, participants (drivers, carriers, and importers) must undergo a risk assessment. Participation in FAST requires every link in the supply chain, from manufacturer to carrier to driver to importer, to be certified. Once identified as low risk, FAST-approved participants are issued documents that allow the border officer to quickly verify the information of the participating parties (the driver, the carrier, and the importer) and clear the shipment to enter Canada or the United States with greater speed and certainty. Thus reducing expenses for FAST participants.
The cost to apply for a five year FAST membership is $50 U.S. or Canadian. The key benefits of FAST enrollment are:
- Access to dedicated lanes for greater speed and efficiency in processing cross-border shipments;
- Reduced number of inspections resulting in fewer delays at the border;
- Priority, front-of-the-line processing for CBP inspections; and,
- Enhanced supply chain security while promoting the economic prosperity of the U.S. and Canada.
Similar to FAST, NEXUS is a joint program between the
United States and Canada designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travelers. Membership for the NEXUS program also costs
$50 U.S. or Canadian and is contingent upon approval by both countries. NEXUS members enjoy:
- A self-serve kiosk, to clear customs and immigration coming into Canada (NEXUS) or the U.S. (NEXUS or Global Entry);
- Expedited clearance through trusted traveler CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) security screening lines in preclearance areas as well as for domestic and select international flights at Canada’s eight major airports;
- Expedited clearance through security screening lines at select mid-sized airports in Canada;
- Expedited clearance through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck lines at 27 participating U.S. airports for domestic travel;
- A quick and simplified entry process using dedicated lanes at designated land border crossings; and
- Reporting by phone from 30 minutes and up to four hours prior to arrival when travelling to one of approximately 430 marine sites in Canada.
Did you know?
Partnership members receive an expedited NEXUS application and interview process. In conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency, this process seeks to trim considerable time from the NEXUS application and vetting process, which can often take upwards of three months depending on volume, by prioritizing Partnership members during the applicant review and interview scheduling period. If interested, please contact Catherine Muth, Manager, CanAm and Government Affairs.