The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said processing times for the Partners in Protection (PIP) program can vary based on completeness of the application and file complexity, responding to complaints of long wait times.
Processing new PIP applications takes between three to 12 months, a CBSA official told TruckNews.com.
PIP allows carriers to save time at the border and enhance trade chain security. As a member of a Trusted Trader program – which is voluntary with no membership fees — businesses can benefit from a simpler border process, according to the CBSA.
Rick Morgan, principal at Links Consulting said the long processing period is costing carriers business opportunities and they can’t wait 12 months for approval.
Working with a couple of U.S.-based automotive haulers, Morgan said the carriers applied for CTPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) a U.S. program like PIP and got it within less than 90 days. But their PIP process is taking much longer.
“The U.S. is leaps and bounds ahead of Canada in terms of documentation, expectation, communication, and web interface support,” Morgan told TruckNews.com.
For carriers, in addition to costs for compliance that can amount to thousands of dollars, there is an additional 30- to 60-day wait period for reports to arrive. The process could take up to 14 months, Morgan noted.
Up to 12-month wait time
“Carriers are presented with an opportunity to do work for a company that needs this certification. How can you expect them to wait 12 months? Where is the incentive for anybody to participate in PIP?” he asked.
The CBSA official said its Trusted Trader Program does not differentiate between companies located in Canada or the U.S. when processing new applications.
“The CBSA is very thorough in its assessment of all new applications, including an initial review of eligibility, conducting risk analysis, and arranging on-site visits when required,” the official said.
All information required
“There are many factors that can cause an application to take longer than 90 days to process, such as completeness of application information and file complexity. Regardless of when an application has been submitted, the CBSA does not begin processing the file until all information has been received.”
TruckNews.com contacted the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) to check if delays were affecting other carriers in the province. “We have not heard any concerns from our members on this issue,” said Lak Shoan, OTA’s director, policy and industry awareness program.
Carriers that are CTPAT-certified can use FAST (Free and Secure Trade) lanes to enter Canada at some border crossings. But from Canada, just being PIP approved is not enough to use FAST lanes to enter the U.S., carriers must also be part of the CSA (Customs Self Assessment) program.
CBSA said a carrier may apply for both PIP and CSA. PIP applications are to be submitted through the online Trusted Trader portal and CSA applications are to be submitted using a paper application and sent via mail.
CTPAT validation report may help
Providing a CTPAT validation report might help speed up the process. “Should the CBSA accept a CTPAT validation and not conduct its own site visit, the processing times would be shorter,” the official said.
Applications are completed on a first come/first served basis when all proper client information has been provided to the CBSA and processing times may vary.
“The CBSA is currently assessing program efficiencies as part of its Trusted Trader Modernization initiative to help reduce application processing timeframes,” the official added.
The system intended to provide security, prevent human trafficking, money laundering and contraband smuggling is “broken”, Morgan said, while his clients await PIP approval.
“This undermines the concept of building a strong community when any business entity is asked to expend that kind of money over a period of time and yet have no guarantee it is going to produce any results.”
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