Immigration agencies on both sides of the border have cut a deal to allow for more preclearance activities to occur in the United States and Canada.
Preclearance is when custom officials inspect travelers for immigration, customs and agricultural purposes before they even leave for their destination. This would significantly speed up the process of travelling from the U.S. and Canada.
While this policy is already in effect to a certain degree in various Canadian cities, the Department of Homeland Security will have to present the agreement to Congress and have it passed to start on the new policy.
However, the fact that the agreement was signed by both the Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada is quite an achievement on its own.
“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,” Secretary Jeh Johnson of the DHS is reported to have said in a DHS press release on Monday.
The agreement, inconveniently named the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada, outlines a number of other actions the governments could undertake under the agreement. Examples include allowing customs officials to carry weapons to the same extent as customs officials in the host country and the exploration of potential co-locations of customs offices at more remote borders.
What does this mean in the short-term for travelers between Canada and the United States? Not much, but this agreement is sure to make travelling much easier in the future.