The Canadian Trucking Alliance said an agreement between the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service has been reached to restore carriers’ ability to conduct in-transit movements of Canadian domestic shipments through the United States.

It was revealed earlier this week the two agencies had reached a harmonization agreement on the data required for domestic goods transiting through the other country.

In February 2011, the United States and Canada signed a joint declaration, "Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness." It outlines a shared approach to security in which both countries work together to address threats within, at, and away from our borders, while expediting lawful trade and travel.

“This data harmonization agreement is an overdue but extremely important development,” said David Bradley, CTA president and CEO.

Implementation could be delayed if the customs agencies require both countries’ systems to be able to accept each other’s information electronically, something that reportedly could take years to develop, according to CTA

Consequently, CTA is proposing the introduction of interim measures, such as a pilot project or trial, which would utilize the harmonized data set and allow for resumption of in-transit truck shipments at least on a limited basis.

For many years, instead of moving Canadian domestic shipments, such as between Toronto and Calgary, across the top of the lake head, it had been common practice for Canadian carriers to transit through the United States on safer, multi-lane divided highways to avoid inclement weather, reduce wear and tear on vehicles, improve fuel efficiency, and provide drivers with more access to rest areas.

Since the goods were not entering the U.S. for consumption or being offloaded or stored, they could enter with minimal documentation, said CTA. At the same time, many U.S. domestic shipments, such as mail entering Canada at Buffalo and re-entering the U.S. at Detroit, also move in-transit through Canada.

However, U.S. policy changed in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks on the U.S. to classify in-transit shipments as international loads, subject to full documentation and advanced e-manifest submission to CBP. This effectively ended in-transit shipments through the United States for Canadian carriers. Canada did not follow suit, which CTA said created an uneven playing field where U.S. domestic shipments could still move in-transit through Canada while Canadian domestic shipments were denied similar access to the United States.

The restoration of in-transit shipments is one of two key measures CTA has been pushing since before the Beyond the Border process and agreement.

The other, which also has the support of the American Trucking Associations and business groups on both sides of the border, is relaxing the restrictions on foreign drivers from repositioning their own empty trailers.

“The current rules which determine when a foreign carrier can use one of its drivers to reposition its own empty trailers in the other country are inconsistent, inefficient and incompatible with modern logistics practices,” said Bradley.