What Is Preclearance For Canada And US Customs?

For Canada and US Customs, preclearance is the process by which border officers carry out immigration, entries and inspections before allowing the movement of goods and individuals through the border.

Preclearance Agreement History

In August, the Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness announced Canada and the US have brought into force a new Agreement. Specifically, the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance between the Government of Canada and The Government of the United States of America.

The Agreement was originally signed in March 2015. Now in late 2019, the final steps have been taken to implement the agreement.

In June of 2016, Bill C-23 known as the Preclearance Act was introduced into Parliament. The Preclearance Act received Royal Assent in December of 2017.

Benefits Of The Preclearance Agreement

The Agreement implies to facilitate opportunities for enhanced travel and trade as it enables Canada and the US to expand preclearance for travellers at land, rail and marine facilities in both countries as well as expand these services to additional airports. It also opens the door for preclearance of commercial cargo.

US Preclearance Into Canada

Part I of Bill C-23 addresses the performance of US preclearance officers in Canada. It authorizes US Customs officers to conduct preclearance in Canada of travellers and goods bound for the US. Bill C-23 also authorizes a federal minister to designate preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters in Canada where preclearance may take place. 

The Bill provides US Customs officers’ powers to facilitate preclearance. In addition to this, the exercise of any power and preclearance of any duty or function by a US preclearance officer is subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Canadian Police officers and the officers of the Canada Border Services Agency are authorized to assist US preclearance officers in the exercise of their powers and performance of their duties and functions.

Canadian Preclearance Into The US

Part II of Bill C-23 addresses the performance of Canadian preclearance officers in the US. It specifies how the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will apply to travellers bound for Canada who are in the preclearance areas and the preclearance perimeters in the US and extends the application of other Canadian laws that relate to entry of persons and importation of goods into Canada to those preclearance areas and perimeters.

Preclearance Improves Business And Travel

Bill C-23 allows the traveller to withdraw from the preclearance process in either country if they wish, unless they are detained.

Preclearance allows the inspection of goods and travellers before they leave the country of exit. A preclearance inspection point of embarkment is essentially the same inspection a traveller would undergo at a US port of entry and would not need to undergo a second inspection upon arrival in the country of destination.

Some Familiar With Preclearance

Many travellers from Canada are familiar with preclearance at airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. Bill C-23 will be expanded to other airports and land/rail/marine locations. Expansion will occur at Quebec’s Jean Lesage International Airport, Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport, Montreal Central Station and the Rocky Mountaineer.

Preclearance is good for Canadian travellers and businesses. You will be able to expedite the export and import of goods and people. In addition the expansion of preclearance should increase the flow of trade between Canada and the US in both directions.

Learn More About Preclearance

If you are interested in learning more please check out the Government of Canada’s post on Bill C-23.

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