U.S., Canada work to expand in-transit freight pilot program

By Greg Grisolano, associate editor

Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection say they are working with Canadian authorities to extend a pilot program allowing Canadian in-transit shipments through the U.S. for another year. The in-transit term refers to freight with both a point of origin and destination in Canada to pass through the U.S. en route to its final destination.

The program between the U.S. and Canada governments began

May 27, and was scheduled to conclude Nov. 27. The new plan is to extend that deadline until Nov. 28, 2017. The program will also expand to three additional ports of entry: Portal, N.D., Sweetgrass, Mont., and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The border crossings at Port Huron, Mich., Pembina, N.D., and Blaine, Wash., were included in the original pilot.

According to a spokesperson with the CBP, the pilot program has seen more than 800 shipments take advantage of the new process. The pilot program allows the carrier to submit information electronically rather than by paper form to the agency during both entry and exit. In addition, the carrier will not be required to stop at customs upon exiting the U.S.

The CBP spokesperson said that transportation industry sources have pegged the potential savings from the pilot program at between $800,000 and $1.7 million for a small or medium-sized company.

According to a news release from the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the group will be hosting a webinar early in 2017 to educate the carrier community regarding what is required to move product in-transit so interested carriers can prepare in advance of the expansion opportunity.

The news release also notes that a timeline for when the additional ports will be ready for use is not yet available. CTA says that it plans to continue to work with U.S. Customs officials to determine an expanded number of carriers to participate in the pilot program, and that an announcement could be made by fall 2017.