FAST (Free and Secure Trade) Information

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This article is part of the Customs Compliance Guide
The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Logo

The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program is a joint program between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and United States Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP) that enhances border and trade chain security while making cross-border commercial shipments simpler and subject to fewer delays.

FAST is a voluntary program that enables the CBSA to work closely with the private sector to enhance border security, combat organized crime and terrorism, and prevent contraband smuggling. Under the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, FAST members who are Canadian or U.S. citizens can use their FAST membership card as an alternative document to the passport when entering the U.S. by land or water. Permanent residents of Canada or the U.S. still require a passport and visa (if applicable) to enter the U.S.[1]

How Free and Secure Trade Works

All FAST program participants (drivers, carriers and importers) must undergo a risk assessment. FAST-approved participants are identified as low risk, which enables the CBSA to focus its resources and security efforts on travellers of high or unknown risk.

When a FAST-approved driver arrives at the border, he or she presents three bar-coded documents to the border services officer (one for each of the participating parties: the driver, the carrier and the importer). The officer can quickly scan the bar codes while all trade data declarations and verifications are done at a later time, away from the border.

Under FAST, eligible goods arriving for approved companies and transported by approved carriers using registered drivers are cleared into Canada or the U.S. with greater speed and certainty, which reduces costs for FAST participants.

FAST Eligibility For Highway Carriers

Carriers must meet these conditions to become authorized FAST participants in Canada:

  • They are a Customs Self Assessment (CSA)-approved carrier; and
  • They have signed a Partners in Protection (PIP) memorandum of understanding.

Note: There is no FAST application form for carriers. Canadian carriers are automatically approved for FAST once they become approved members of the CSA and PIP programs.

For information regarding the FAST into the United States please see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site.[2]

FAST Eligibility For Drivers

You may qualify to participate in the program if you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the United States and you reside in Canada or the United States. You must also be 18 years old or over and possess a valid driver's licence. You must be admissible to Canada and the United States under applicable immigration laws.

You may not qualify if the following applies:

  • You provide false or incomplete information on your application;
  • You have been convicted of a criminal offence in any country for which you have not received a pardon;
  • You have been found in violation of customs or immigration law; or
  • You fail to meet requirements of the FAST Commercial Driver Program.

Both Canada and the United States must approve your application. If you do not meet the requirements of both countries, your application will be denied.[3]

FAST into Canada

The CBSA offers members of its Trusted Trader programs access to dedicated FAST lanes and booths at designated ports of entry for expedited border passage. FAST builds on the Customs Self Assessment (CSA) program and the increased security measures under the Partners in Protection (PIP) program. Importers and carriers must be approved in the CSA program and must have signed a PIP memorandum of understanding to be eligible for FAST. The driver must have a valid FAST card or Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP) card.

  • Note: CDRP cards were first created to handle CSA shipments before FAST was established. The CDRP is a Canadian program and therefore its membership cards are only valid for coming into Canada. FAST is a joint initiative between the U.S. and Canada so its driver membership cards are recognized on both sides of the border.

FAST into the United States

Any truck using FAST lanes must be a U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)-approved carrier and transporting qualifying goods for a C-TPAT-approved importer. The driver must have a valid FAST card.

FAST Eligible Goods

To qualify for the streamlined FAST process, goods imported into Canada must meet these conditions:

They must not be prohibited, controlled or regulated importations as set out in any act of Parliament or provincial legislation; They must not be subject to the release requirements of any other government department; and They must be shipped directly to Canada from the continental U.S. or Mexico.

Other Trusted Trader Programs

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary public-private sector supply chain security program led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Through this program, CBP works with the trade community to strengthen international supply chains and improve United States border security.
Customs Self Assessment allows for the clearance of goods imported by a CSA Approved importer and transported by a CSA Approved carrier. For a shipment to clear under CSA both the importer and carrier must be CSA Approved, and the driver must be registered with either the Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP) or the Free And Secure Trade (FAST) driver registration program.
Partners in Protection (PIP) is a cooperative program between private industry and the CBSA aimed at enhancing border and trade chain security. This voluntary program has no membership fee. It is designed to streamline and make border processes more efficient for low-risk, pre-approved businesses recognized as trusted traders.