There are programs made available by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to facilitate air and marine travel for residents. This post looks at CANPASS Air, which is one of the CBSA programs designed to fast track the formalities typically witnessed at customs and immigration checkpoints.
Please note that these privileges are only offered to low-risk, pre-screened travelers. The primary distinction between CANPASS Air and NEXUS lies in the fact that CANPASS Air is a CBSA program, whereas NEXUS is a joint effort between CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is worth noting that all CANPASS program benefits are already included/available in the NEXUS membership.
The CANPASS Air program is geared toward people flying frequently by commercial airlines. Travelers landing at Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg international airports can use this program. To be eligible for this program, a person must:
- Be a Canadian or US citizen;
- Be admissible into Canada under applicable immigration laws;
- Provide genuine information on the application;
- Not have been convicted of a serious criminal offense for which pardon has not been granted;
- Not be in violation of any customs/immigration legislation; and,
- Not had a customs seizure within the past 5 years.
Passengers who are members of CANPASS Air can use the self-serve kiosk located in the Canadian inspection services area of the international airports mentioned above. The kiosk houses an iris recognition camera that verifies the authenticity of the traveler/member. The kiosk does not allow more than one successful entry within the hour and the member should carry their CANPASS Air membership card with them, although it is not needed for using the kiosk.
Once the traveler completes the CBSA declaration questions shown on screen, a receipt is printed that should be given to the border services officer along with a completed CBSA declaration card when exiting the inspection area.
All air travelers including CANPASS members are required to fill the CBSA Declaration Card (Form E311). Many air travelers, frequent or not, may recall this card as the one that flight attendants distribute on the plane. The Traveler Declaration Card (TDC) is an optional form for all Canadian-resident CBSA traveler program members (such as CANPASS Air members) that can be used to declare goods exceeding personal exemptions.
US residents with excess amount of goods to declare may use the kiosk but payment of duties will have to be made to the cashier in the area (Canadian residents get the option to have the duties charged to their credit card on file). It is important to note that a traveler, CBSA program member or not, importing commercial or controlled goods will have to report to an officer and cannot use the kiosk.
Interested and eligible travelers can complete the application form using instructions found here. There is a $50 non-refundable fee (for processing the application) that should be sent along with the application form and a photocopy of proof of citizenship or permanent resident status to one of the two addresses given below:
All provinces and territories West of the Manitoba-Ontario border
28, 176th Street
Surrey V3S 9R9
Phone: 1-866-496-3987 (toll-free)
Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada
400 Place d’Youville
Montréal H2Y 2C2
Phone: 1-866-399-5887 (toll-free)
The application is processed in 4 to 6 weeks and requires attending an interview with a CBSA officer. If accepted, the membership is valid for one year. Renewals can be done by submitting a renewal application and the $50 fee. However, every five years, members are required to visit an enrollment center for an interview and a new membership card.
Are you a CANPASS Air member? If so, do you find the program useful? Were there any hassles or technical glitches when using the self-serve kiosks?