Changing Customs

The U.S. and Canada are now more freely sharing borders and information.

By by John McNeil.

Imagine a five-minute drive to pick up a pizza where you cross two international borders to do so. For the 1,000 people who live on the Canadian island of Campobello, it’s a common reality. The road connecting this Canadian island to the mainland is a bridge to the United States. Both a public ferry and private ferry operate only seasonally. That’s why islanders need to bring their passports if they want a pepperoni and cheese.

Campobello may be a unique example, but for the 75 percent of Canadians living within 160 kilometers of the U.S. border, regular travel between Canada and the U.S. is a part of life. An estimated 400,000 people and $2 billion worth of goods and services cross the border each day.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s March visit may have marked the first time in 19 years a Canadian prime minister was invited for an official state visit, but the camaraderie between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama solidified the image of the two countries as friendly neighbors. The two leaders also announced agreements to work together to increase efficiency and security in travelling between the two countries.

A new preclearance agreement will see more Canadian citizens clear U.S. customs before entering the U.S. Though it is being reported as a fairly new initiative, preclearance procedures between the two countries were first introduced at Toronto International Airport in 1952. Before this most recent agreement to expand preclearance, 11 million Canadians were cleared for U.S. entry annually at the eight Canadian airports where the procedures are already in place.

The March 2016 agreement will add two airports as well as rail service from Montreal and Vancouver to the list of U.S. preclearance locations. These changes will, however, require legislative approval on both sides of the border, and there is no indication of when that might come.

Canada and the U.S. also came to a formal agreement to share no-fly lists for the first time. “We’re working closely together to prevent the flow of …

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