Exporting to the United States - The Canada-U.S. border
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On this page
- 9. The Canada-US border
- 9.1. The Canada Border Services Agency
- 9.2. Canada-U.S. trusted trader programs
- 9.3. U.S. legislation affecting exporters
9. The Canada-U.S. border
Trade and international security
Because the global trading system is vulnerable to terrorist exploitation that would severely damage the world’s economy, the World Customs Organization (WCO) has begun an initiative that will help protect the international supply chain. Called the SAFE Framework, this initiative aims to establish and integrate standards for supply chain security and management, strengthen cooperation among customs administrations to improve their detection capabilities, strengthen customs-business cooperation and promote the seamless movement of goods through well-secured international supply chains.
On December 7, 2011, the Prime Minister and U.S. President Obama announced an Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, establishing a practical roadmap for joint efforts between Canada and the United States to make the border more secure and open in the coming years. The Border Action Plan is designed to implement the goals laid out by the two Leaders in February 2011, when they jointly announced the Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.
The Shared Vision directs Canada and the United States to take a perimeter approach, which will see the two countries work together within, at and away from our common borders to address threats as early as possible in a way that supports economic competitiveness, job creation and prosperity. The Shared Vision focuses on four areas of cooperation: 1) addressing threats early; 2) trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs; 3) integrated cross-border law enforcement; and 4) critical infrastructure and cyber-security.
The Border Action Plan, which will be used to implement the goals of the Shared Vision, includes more than thirty initiatives that will improve both countries’ ability to manage security risks, while facilitating the flow of people, goods and services. More information on the Border Action Plan is available at
9.1. The Canada Border Services Agency
The CBSA was created in 2003 by integrating certain employees and functions from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency into the new agency. The CBSA has jurisdiction over:
passenger inspection services at Canadian ports of entry; and
intelligence, interdiction and enforcement functions related to citizenship and immigration.
You can find out more about the agency from the CBSA website at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.
9.2. Canada-U.S. trusted trader programs
The Government of Canada has worked with the United States to institute a number of trusted trader programs that could help you do business south of the border.
9.2.1. The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program
The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program is a commercial clearance program designed to ensure safety and security while expediting legitimate trade across the Canada–U.S. border. A joint initiative between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FAST enhances border and supply chain security while making cross-border commercial shipments simpler and subject to fewer delays.
FAST members have access to a streamlined process that reduces delivery times and landed costs of imports, providing access to dedicated lanes (where available) for faster and more efficient border clearance, as well as other benefits. To learn more about the FAST program, including enrolment requirements and details, visit:
9.2.2. The Partners in Protection (PIP) program
Partners in Protection (PIP) is a CBSA program that enlists the cooperation of private industry to enhance border and trade chain security, combat organized crime and terrorism and help detect and prevent contraband smuggling. PIP is a voluntary program, with no membership fee, that aims to secure the trade chain, one partnership at a time. PIP members agree to implement and adhere to high security standards while the CBSA agrees to assess their security measures, provide information sessions on security issues and offer other benefits. Member companies are recognized as being trusted traders, which allows the CBSA to focus its resources on areas of higher or unknown risk.
Through their partnership with the CBSA, PIP members contribute to the security of the supply chain and the facilitation of legitimate trade. For more information on the PIP program, visit: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/security-securite/pip-pep/menu-eng.html.
9.2.3. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program
Similar to the PIP program, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program was developed by U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) to enhance supply chain security and expedite border clearance. If you produce goods and export them to the U.S., it may be to your advantage to be a C-TPAT member. Canada and the United States are currently working to harmonize the PIP and C-TPAT programs and develop new benefits, including an automated enrolment system. Further information on the C-TPAT program is available at:
9.3. U.S. legislation affecting exporters
The U.S. has implemented two pieces of security-related legislation that may affect your export business.
9.3.1. The Bioterrorism Act
The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, more commonly known as the Bioterrorism Act, was implemented in December 2003 and is intended to protect the United States from bioterrorism. If your business produces, processes or handles food for human or animal consumption in the U.S., it will almost certainly affect you, and you will have to register with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For information about registering, refer to the FDA Registration web page at
You will be required to provide the name of a U.S. company to act as your agent/contact in the U.S., should FDA officials need to make immediate contact with someone regarding your shipments. You must also notify FDA of your shipments in advance of their arrival at the border.
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada maintains an extensive web page with information and links related to the Bioterrorism Act; located at www.ats-sea.agr.gc.ca/amr/acc-amr-eng.htm.
9.3.2. The Trade Act
In July 2003, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection announced new regulatory requirements for pre-arrival notice in air, rail and highway modes under the Trade Act of 2002. Under these requirements, traders shipping goods to the U.S. are required to submit certain cargo and conveyance information to U.S. Customs before the goods arrive at the border. For example, in the marine mode, U.S. Customs must receive specific cargo information 24 hours prior to the goods being loaded onboard the vessel at the foreign port.
As with the FDA regulations, exporters will find that these U.S. Customs requirements may have a significant effect on how and when export documents must be completed and submitted to the appropriate border authorities. For more information on the requirement for advance notice, visit
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