New US, Canada deal a boon to air travellers

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A new agreement between Canada and the US will soon allow travellers and cargo to pre-clear customs before they leave. Canadian air travellers have been able to clear customs before flying to the U.S. for decades at Canadian airports, letting them skip line-ups when they land in the United States.

The two countries have agreed to add U.S. pre-clearance operations at Billy Bishop airport in Toronto and Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City.

The new agreement extends pre-clearance for travellers crossing by land, rail and sea. Early stages of planning are underway for pre-clearances for train passengers travelling from Montreal into New York and on the Rocky Mountaineer railway in British Columbia, which extends into Washington state.

Pre-clearance operations will be expanded to additional airports, but pre-clearances of cargo travelling across the border is a first.

PM Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump announced the pre-clearance agreement.

The date for these measures to be put in place has not been announced.

The agreement was first announced in 2015 but required a number of regulatory changes in both countries before it could be enacted. Canada passed its legislation in 2017.

Information obtained through access-to-information law shows Canada has taken a cautious approach, weighing a number of factors including economic benefits and competitiveness, traffic flows, space constraints at airports, national-security considerations and financial implications.

Canadian border officers have been pre-screening rail cargo by viewing X-ray images of northbound rail cars on the U.S. side, using imaging technology already in use by American officials who screen rail cars bound for the U.S.

As part of this pilot, American border officers capture X-ray images of the rail cars headed for Canada and then Canadian border officials flag any possible irregularities and then process the goods in Canada. -CINEWS

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