Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Customs’

Agreement Might Speed Up Customs Inspections

August 29, 2019

An agreement between the United States and Canada promises to make the border crossing a little faster.

Under the pact, U.S. customs inspections will be conducted at Montreal’s Central Station, in the manner that it is done for air travel between the two countries.

However, officials warn that it will be at least two years before the inspections begin in Montreal.

Garry Douglas, president and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, New York, predicts the best case scenario is that it will be at least two years before the new system is implemented.

“There are at least six parties in the conversation,” he said.

One key question that has yet to be answered is where the funding will come from to construct an inspection facility in Montreal.

At present, Amtrak’s New York-Montreal Adirondack, stops at the border and customs officials move through the train interviewing passengers as well as examining luggage and identification documents.

That process can take up to an hour, depending on how many passengers are on board.

The move to end the border stop has been in the works for more than five years.

Agencies involved in the discussions include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New York State Department of Transportation, Transport Quebec, Transport Canada, Amtrak and the City of Montreal.

One idea is to use an unused track and platform in Montreal for the inspection facility.

Amtrak spokeswoman Beth Toll said the carrier will establish a timeline to implement the new inspection procedures in consultation with New York officials, Canadian authorities, and U.S. border authorities.

Canada Adopts Legislation to Streamline Customs Procedures for Travel to the U.S.

December 21, 2017

Canada has adopted legislation that will streamline customs inspections for those traveling by rail between that country and the United States.

The legislation allows the Canadian government to designate preclearance areas and perimeters, while giving U.S. agents the authority to conduct preclearance screening.

The new law would be a companion to the Promoting Travel, Commerce and National Security Act that the U.S. Congress adopted in 2016.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) had sponsored the law in the U.S.

“With this legislation now in place, Canada and the United States— and especially Vermont — are poised to reap the rewards of improved border security and better economic growth,” Leahy said in a news release. “I look forward to continuing my work and partnership with the Canadian government to make expanded preclearance a reality.”

Vermont Eyes Extending Vermonter to Montreal

January 18, 2017

Vermont officials are optimistic that a new law expanding customers operations outside the United States will pave the way for extending the Vermonter to Montreal.

The law, which was signed by President Obama last year, will allow the United States to expand the number of pre-clearance facilities it has in Canada.

Amtrak 3One of those new pre-clearance facilities is expected to be established in Montreal Central Station, which is also served by Amtrak’s New York-Montreal Adirondack.

The Vermonter operates between Washington and St. Albans, Vermont. In past years the train operated to Montreal as the Montrealer.

In the pre-clearance program, passengers bound for the United Sates go through customs in Canada. Those who do not pass the inspection are not allowed to board the train.

The program has been used for airline passengers for many years. The U.S. currently has 15 pre-clearance facilities in six countries.

Customs officials say an advantage of preclearance is cost savings. Last year customs turned away more than 10,000 travelers and saved $20 million in detention and repatriation expenses.

The office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said it will be at least two years before everything is in place to be able to extend the Vermonter to Montreal.

Some sections of track in Canada need to be rehabilitated, union-related crew issues must be worked out and funding for the track work and construction of the Montreal pre-clearance facility has yet to be approved.

If the Vermonter is extended into Canada, there will be no intermediate stops between Montreal Central Station and St. Albans. U.S. and Canadian customs inspections will be done in Montreal.

“This Act is key to the long-term strategy of the United States and Canada to make cross-border transit more efficient, fostering economic development and improving safety and security of our shared border,” said Amtrak’s senior Vice President of Government Affairs Joe McHugh in a statement. “When implemented, Amtrak passengers can look forward to a more reliable, safer and more efficient cross-border experience.”

It is not clear what effect the incoming Trump administration might have on the preclearance expansion plans.

Trump has vowed to tighten border security although he has not commented specifically about the U.S.-Canadian border.

Customs Inspections Improved for Amtrak

December 14, 2016

Congress has approved legislation designed to speed up Amtrak service between the United States and Canada by authorizing U.S. Customs to pre-clear passengers before they reach the border.

Amtrak logoThe bill would apply to Amtrak a practice already in place at some Canadian airports whereby airline passengers bound for the U.S. clear customs before boarding their plane.

Under current practices, Amtrak trains must stop shortly after reaching the United States and customs agents board the train to screen passengers.

Officials say that the border checks on Amtrak trains add an extra hour to the travel time.

The legislation passed by Congress expands the pre-clearance program to include train stations in Canada and passengers would clear customs before boarding their train.

The legislation was pushed by members of Congress and the Senate from New York state.

New York officials are hoping that the Canadian parliament will approve similar legislation allowing its customs officials to work at stations in the U.S.

Expected to benefit from the new practices are the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and the New York-Montreal Adirondack.