There’s About to Be a Major Change at the Canada-U.S. Border

Big changes to the Canada-U.S. border could be in store that may help your next road trip Stateside.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will use his first visit to Washington – which kicks off today – to announce support for a plan that could revolutionize the way we cross the border.

He intends to endorse a pre-clearance experiment designed to free up congestion at the border by allowing people to clear customs at train stations, bus stations, and at other locations off of highways. Essentially, it will allow customs officials to screen travellers far away from the Canada-U.S. border.

The concept was announced a year ago by the Harper government and the Obama administration but hadn’t made any real advances. Naturally, it requires implementation through legislation in both countries.

According to Canadian Press, when asked what announcements we can expect, Alan Bersin, assistant secretary for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland, referenced three areas. These include plans to share data for land travellers the way it’s shared for air travel; swaps of exit data; and pre-clearance.

He said governments have started to move beyond the long-standing dichotomy of trade versus security at the border, and are developing a more forward-thinking, sophisticated system to achieve both. The legislation would account for things like the right of customs officers to carry arms in the other country, and the procedure for making an arrest on foreign soil.

The new system would start with pilot projects in several places. Word is that they’ll be announced later this week, and will include the port at Quebec City and at Massena, N.Y.

Of course, nothing is final yet – bills still need to pass both in U.S. Congress and on our side of the border.