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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Press Release

Monday, December 23, 2002

U.S. Customs Opens Trade Fastlanes!
Detroit, Port Huron, Buffalo Crossings Now Available
Blaine, WA, Champlain, NY, to Open in Mid-January

DETROIT, MI--The joint U.S.-Canada Free and Secure Trade (FAST) initiative, announced on September 9, 2002, by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Jean Chretien, is now operational at three major commercial crossing points. These crossings include Detroit, Michigan/Windsor, Ontario; Port Huron, Michigan/Sarnia, Ontario; and in Buffalo, New York/ Fort Erie, Ontario. FAST is expediting trade through these three locations responsible for processing over 20,000 thousand inbound and outbound commercial trucks per day--representing more than 40 percent of trade between the U.S. and Canada.

In mid-January, 2003, the FAST lane program will be extended farther west along the U.S.-Canada border, to Blaine, Washington/Douglas, British Columbia, and to the east, at Champlain, New York/Lacolle, Quebec.

"The FAST program is a key component of building a smarter border with Canada. It provides our commercial trade partners with the means to help both America and Canada combat terrorism, while at the same time expediting movement of cargo into and through our ports of entry," said U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner.

FAST is a bilateral initiative between the United States and Canada designed to ensure security and safety while enhancing the economic prosperity of both countries. In developing this program, Canada and the United States have agreed to harmonize, to the maximum extent possible, their commercial processes for clearance of low-risk commercial shipments at the border. This harmonized process is built on common risk-management principles, supply chain security, industry partnership, and advanced technology to improve the efficiency of screening and clearing commercial traffic at our shared border. FAST processing is based upon advanced transmission of information and takes only seconds to process hundreds of international freight shipments.

To be eligible for the FAST lane, a shipment must be destined for an importer enrolled in the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), transported by a carrier enrolled in C-TPAT, and driven by a registered driver in possession of a valid FAST--Commercial Driver Card.

Key components required for using the FAST lane include:

Importer Registration: Importers will complete separate applications to the customs administrations in the United States and Canada. Importers authorized to use the FAST program for clearance into the United States will have a demonstrated history of complying with all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements, and will have made a commitment to security enhancing business practices as required by C-TPAT.

Carrier Registration: Carriers will complete a single FAST Highway Carrier Application that includes a security profile and a written Highway Carrier Agreement. A carrier may apply to either or both Canada and the United States. Each country will perform an independent risk assessment and each country will issue independent approvals for participation. For the United States, a FAST approved carrier will have met all aspects of C-TPAT through the FAST registration process. Carriers authorized to use the FAST program will have a demonstrated history of complying with all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements and will have made a commitment to security-enhancing business practices as required by C-TPAT.

Commercial Driver Application: Drivers will complete a single FAST Commercial Driver Application. The application will be risk-assessed by the customs and immigration of both countries. Applicants identified as low risk will report to an enrollment center, at a customs cargo clearance location, where they will be interviewed, have their original identification and citizenship documents reviewed, fingerprinted and have a digital photo taken. Low-risk applicants may then be issued a FAST-Commercial Driver Card in about 20 minutes. This card will be a proximity card and will display the digital photo and biographical information of the driver. During FAST border processing, a reader will recognize that driver as a FAST approved commercial driver and will display the truck driver's photo and biographical information in the primary truck lane. The proximity card is good up to five years.

FAST is part of the Shared Border Accord 30-point action plan between the U.S. And Canadian governments.



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