U.S.-Canada customs preclearance agreement may speed up border crossings

Canadians travelling to the U.S. by plane have enjoyed the benefits of customs preclearance, which has helped streamline the security check-in process. Unfortunately, those entering the U.S. by land, water and rail have not had the same experience, as preclearance is not available at these border crossings. In mid-March, however, Canada and the U.S. made an agreement to extend customs preclearance to effectively resolve this dilemma.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson held a joint news conference in Washington on March 16. During this conference, they revealed the planned extension of customs preclearance to those travelling by train, land and water.

With preclearance, U.S. officials inspect people and goods on Canadian soil before they enter the country. This reduces the need for further inspection upon arrival to the U.S. Without such an option, land, water and rail travellers have been faced with long waiting times.

"This will reduce congestion and delays at the border, and increase efficiency and predictability in cross-border travel, tourism and transportation," Johnson said during a news conference.

The preclearance extension serves as the next step in the Beyond the Border Action Plan, which was established in 2011 to integrate U.S. security efforts into Canadian crossings and improve the flow of trade between the two countries.

While the deal has been put on the table, it must still be approved by lawmakers from both nations. As the WSJ predicts, the deal is almost guaranteed to go through, so Canadians travelling by water, rail and land may expect faster travel times in the near future.

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