At midnight on March 20, 2020, in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, Canada and the United States closed their shared border to non-essential travel for a period of thirty (30) days (which can be extended to a longer period of time). “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. The border remains open to commercial traffic. Truckers, carriers, couriers, and drivers are doing important work keeping the food supply flowing and supply chains running smoothly. We want truckers to continue to do this critical work.
Many truck drivers have Fast and Secure Trade (FAST) cards. FAST is a trusted traveler program between Canada and the U.S.. Truckers are able to use a special lane that is intended to expedite clearance at the border. FAST Card members must continue to meet all the terms and conditions of the program and comply with all applicable laws and regulations in both Canada and the United States. To read more about the FAST program – please go to the CBSA website.
What would happen if a Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) officer confiscates a FAST Card?
It would be devastating because valuable time will be used in slower lanes and wasted during more extensive examinations of vehicles. It will be devastating even though traffic at the border will be reduced during the COVID-19 border shutdown.
In recent years, confiscations of FAST Cards happened regularly and it will be devastating to a trucker if it happened during the COVID-19 border shutdown. As a result, truckers need to be very careful to check their loads. Attention to detail is more important now. Truckers need to ensure that their paperwork is in order. Truckers need to ensure Advanced Commercial Information about their load is sent to the relevant customs authorities. Truckers need to ensure that if they pick up personal goods for friends and family, they declare all those personal goods (along with their commercial goods) at the Canada-U.S. border to the CBSA or U.S. CBP, respectively.
If the worst happens and the CBSA confiscates a FAST Card, there is an appeal mechanism. An appeal of the confiscation can be filed with the Recourse Directorate within 90 days of the confiscation. The process is not fast (no pun intended). It can take many months for the Recourse Directorate to gather the relevant facts and make a determination as to whether to reinstate FAST privileges. When filing an appeal, it is more important than ever to prepare a detailed and complete appeal.
If a trucker has failed to declare goods, it is not likely that the CBSA will be forgiving and may not re-instate the FAST Card. We recommend that truckers declared all goods acquired in the other jurisdiction. Remember all of your receipts and paperwork.
Truckers need to be careful about what videos they have on their mobile devices. If the CBSA conducts an examination of the contents of a mobile device and find prohibited materials (e.g. child pornography, obscene materials, hate propaganda, etc.), the CBSA may confiscate and cancel a FAST Card membership.
If you require assistance appealing the confiscation of a FAST Card, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.