Canada/US Release Joint Beyond the Border Action Plan

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper met in Washington, DC this afternoon and released the United States-Canada Beyond the Border:  A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.  This flows from the Declaration they issued in February 2011.

The Action Plan sets out joint priorities for four areas of cooperation:

  1. Addressing threats early
  2. Trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs
  3. Cross-border law enforcement
  4. Critical infrastructure and cyber security

The Action Plan states upfront:

  • It is not an international treaty creating new rights or obligations.
  • Its implementation is subject to the normal budget, legal and regulatory mechanisms in each country.
  • Progress on many elements will depend on the availability of funding.
  • It will be carried out in close consultation with the stakeholders.

The Action Plan appears to be mostly focused on the land border and on cargo. Below I have highlighted the elements I think are probably of most interest to airports.   

Addressing Threats Early:


  • Evaluate and achieve the mutual recognition of each other’s air cargo security regimes for air passenger aircraft by March 2012.
  • Develop a common set of required data elements for in-bond (US)/in-transit (Canada) for all modes of transport for advanced security screening of cargo.
  • Develop Integrated Cargo Security Strategy (ICSS) to address risks associated with shipments arriving offshore based on informed risk management.  Canada and the US will each launch a pilot in September 2012 to assist in shaping and implementing the strategy.

*****Rescreening passenger baggage

  • Mutually recognize passenger baggage screening as new technology is deployed.  Canada will begin deploying TSA Explosive Detection Systems certified equipment at preclearance airports immediately (YYZ is already in the process of doing so) and will seek to complete deployment by March 31, 2015.  The US will lift the rescreening requirement on an airport-by-airport basis for US connecting checked baggage as each preclearance airport implements TSA certified EDS.

******Establish Common Approach to Screening Travelers

  • This action item largely appears to consist of Canada implementing programs similar to two CBP programs over the next four years: 1) Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and 2) Advanced Passenger Information Quick Query System (AQQ) as well as implementing an enhanced targeting methodology consistent with US methodology.  

Trade Facilitation, Economic Growth and Jobs:

*****Adopt a common framework for trusted trader programs

  • Harmonize the US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Canada’s Partners in Protection (PIP) to align requirements, enhance benefits and implement an automated interoperable enrollment system. 

*****Increase harmonized benefits to NEXUS Members

*****Increase harmonized benefits to NEXUS Members

  • Immediately recognize NEXUS members for trusted traveler lanes at passenger pre-board screening points for flights from Canada to the US.
  • Develop plan by June 30, 2012 to include third country traveler programs and extend eligibility to Canadian and US citizens not residing in either country.
  • Develop enhanced benefits e.g. mobile enrollment within two years.
  • Include Canadian NEXUS members in a TSA risk-based screening program upon implementation of such a program.  Within 18 months of such a program, the US and Canada will mutually recognize each other’s passenger checkpoint screening for trusted air traveler program members.
  • The US and Canada will implement a joint marketing campaign to promote trusted traveler programs, implement an enrollment blitz at current centers and implement an expedited renewal process by March 31, 2012.

*****Implement additional preclearance initiatives

  • Identify and develop solutions to operational impediments to the effectiveness of CBP’s preclearance operations at Canadian airports by June 2012 with implementation of agreed solutions starting in December 2012.
  • Establish additional binational Port Operations Committees at the eight preclearance airports in Canada.  They will play an important role in improving the facilitation of travel and trade.

There is reference in some of the press to establishing an integrated entry/exit system.  This is for the land border with respect to exchanging biographic information where the exit information from one country is the entry information for the other country.  This is not a reference to US-VISIT Exit which would establish a biometric system at US airports for departing foreign passengers. The Action Plan does call for Canada to develop a system to establish a passenger’s exit, similar to that in the US, under which airlines will be required to submit their passenger manifest for outbound international flights.

Beyond the Border Joint Action Plan

Government of Canada’s Background on Beyond the Border

DHS Background on Beyond the Border:  Includes area for public comment

White House Fact Sheet