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The U.S. and Canada announced an initiative to speed up travel between the countries while at the same time tightening security.   “Beyond the Border”  is an action plan that covers such a wide range of issues that it may never be fully implemented.

The initiative will proceed with a host of pilot projects, committees, and most importantly, funding requests. If the political will to push this along disappears, funding and agreement on tough issues may derail parts of the program. Actual changes are likely to come slowly over the next 3-5 years.

Speeding up Passenger Traffic at the Border

The goal is to stop the bad guys but shorten the border wait time for “trusted travelers”.

  • Each country will share more information about their citizens and convicted criminals.
  • The countries will exchange entry and exit information so they have a clear record of when a person entered, and exited, a country.  This will start in 2012 and should be fully implemented by 2014. This already happens between the U.S. and the European Union.
  • The countries will exchange more information, including biometric data, on foreigners coming from other countries to either the U.S. or Canada.
  • The NEXUS program will be improved and more NEXUS lanes created.
  • Where possible, the United States and Canada will try to align hours of operation and co-manage facilities at smaller ports.

Effect on You

Critics are concerned about how much personal information will be shared between the countries. Here are some other things to consider:

  • The days of fudging the length of a personal visit in order to bring more merchandise back will be over.  Each country will know exactly when you crossed the border on every trip.
  • Agents will be able to easily identify people who overstay their visas. They will also be able to track whether people subject to removal orders actually leave the country.
  • It will be much easier for the government to verify that people seeking immigration and benefits have met residency requirements.

Promised Infrastructure Improvements Include:

Making it Easier to Get Goods Across the Border

The goal is to streamline the flow of goods by pre-inspection, pre-clearance, and by harmonizing the vast array of regulations that affect border transit.  Key elements include:

  • “Inspect once, accept twice”.   Freight arriving in North America will be inspected by only one Customs agency but will be accepted by both countries.
  • A pre-clearance pilot program is slated for September 2012 at the Peace Bridge. This would allow trucks to be pre-cleared on the Canadian side of the border by CBP before entering the U.S.
  • The creation of a “single window” to electronically submit the required documentation to both countries.
  • Harmonize the vast array of rules on the inspection and certification of products crossing the border such as meat and poultry.
  • Harmonize trusted trader programs and create a “trusted” status that enables a shipment to be pre-screened at the factory instead of at the border.
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