The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program is a commercial clearance program designed to ensure safety and security while expediting legitimate trade across the Canada–U.S. border.
FAST is a joint initiative between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that enhances border and trade chain security while making cross-border commercial shipments simpler and subject to fewer delays.
It 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 United States by land or water. Permanent residents of Canada or the United States still require a passport and visa (if applicable) to enter the United States.
The CBSA and industry are mutually committed to maintaining the FAST program requirements and they work together to achieve compliance and to find solutions to problems.
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 United States with greater speed and certainty, which reduces costs for FAST participants.
Also, as of November 25, 2009, FAST members can use their FAST membership card as proof of identity and citizenship to enter Canada in all lanes, including regular highway lanes, even in a non-commercial vehicle.
Dedicated FAST lanes have been established at a number of major border crossings.
In order to qualify for the streamlined FAST process, goods imported into Canada must meet these conditions: