Canada, US Sign Historic Pre-clearance Deal


Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Steven Blaney; and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, signed the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America in Washington, DC yesterday.

The agreement is a major commitment of the Beyond the Border Action Plan issued by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in December 2011. The agreement was signed in Washington following a meeting to discuss border security.

Minister Blaney observed: “Our government’s top priority remains creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians. This historic new agreement builds on decades of successful pre-clearance operations in Canadian airports. It will enhance security at our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of legitimate goods and people between our two countries.”

Secretary Johnson commented: “After years of hard work and negotiations, today we have one of the most significant, visible, and anticipated products of the Beyond the Border initiative — a major achievement that will produce significant benefits for the United States and Canada.”

And he continued: “This agreement will help facilitate the legitimate trade and travel that keeps our economy thriving as we maintain utmost vigilance to the security of our borders. We remain committed to our deep partnership with Canada, a true ally, neighbor and friend of the United States.”

Every day, close to 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. land border, along with over $2 billion in goods and services. A highly efficient border that ensures the efficient flow of legitimate goods and people is essential to this trade relationship. Through the comprehensive approach to pre-clearance outlined in the agreement, Canada and the U.S. are seeking to strengthen our relationship and enhance our mutual security, prosperity and economic competitiveness.

When it takes effect, the new agreement will provide a legal framework that will enable the establishment of new pre-clearance operations in any of the four modes of transportation. It will allow the market to propose operations when and where it makes sense — facilitating trade and travel, and creating economic benefits for Canadians.

Here are some quick facts:

  • Preclearance operations were implemented in Canada for the first time in 1952, when U.S. preclearance officers began screening travellers for U.S.-bound planes at the Toronto International Airport. A formal preclearance agreement with the U.S. did not exist at that time; Canada and the U.S. reached their first air transport preclearance agreement in 1974.
  • Each year, roughly 11 million passengers are pre-cleared for flights to the U.S. at eight Canadian airports under the current bilateral air preclearance framework û reducing wait times for these passengers and often reducing the number of connections they required.
  • This historic new comprehensive Agreement covers all modes of travel, including air. When it enters into force, it would replace the existing air transport Agreement, which was signed in 2001. This single Agreement would ensure a consistent approach to all preclearance activities, regardless of the mode of transportation, making it easier to implement and govern preclearance activities in both countries.
  • In the Beyond the Border Action Plan, in addition to negotiating a comprehensive approach to preclearance in the land, rail, marine and air modes, Canada and the U.S. committed to implementing a truck cargo pre-inspection pilot in Canada. Phase I of the pilot was implemented at the Pacific Highway crossing between British Columbia and Washington, from June to December 2013. Phase II was implemented at the Peace Bridge, between Ontario and New York, from February 2014 to January 2015. An evaluation of the pilot will be completed by July 31, 2015.