Service Between Canada & The United States


Increased Security Programs at the Border?
Federal agencies in both Canada and the United States have been working towards developing increased security programs to cover the movement of goods and transportation across our border. Various programs have been put together to help accomplish the goals of increased security while maintaining the free flow of goods across our border with minimal disruption to our economy. To speed up the process of clearing at the border, Vitran participates in Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) with Canada Border Service Agency and Pre-Approved Processing Systems (PAPS) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection by clearing shipments prior to the driver arriving at the border.

FAST, CSA, PIP, and C-TPAT are all programs, which are an integral part of the new trans-border initiatives. In general participation and certification in these programs will provide faster processing and fewer delays for inspections in trans border movement of goods.

What is VITRAN’s status in these programs?

  • We are FAST, CSA, PIP, C-TPAT certified
  • We are one of the first LTL ACE Certified carriers in Canada
  • We are in the process of working with Canada Custom to become ACI certified

What is FAST?

FAST stands for “Free And Secure Trade”. It is a joint program of the Canadian and U.S. governments involving the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the United States Customs Service, and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.

It is a harmonized commercial process offered to pre-approved importers, carriers and registered drivers. It promotes and supports tighter border security while keeping the border open to the free flow of known, low risk legitimate trade.

In Canada FAST builds on the CSA and PIP programs while in the United States it builds on the requirements of C-TPAT.


What are CSA, PIP, and C-TPAT?

CSA (Customs Self Assessment)

Established by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, CSA is a certification process that consists of the assessment of an importer, broker, or transportation provider’s accounting and payment process for imported goods originating from U.S. manufacturers. CSA certification focus is on improved data collection and processing to help increase trans-border efficiency. To qualify for CSA expedited shipping, the Canadian importer, carrier, and driver must all be CSA certified. All CSA participants must join the PIP program by December 16th, 2003.

PIP (Partners in Protection)

This is a program of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. The main focus of this is to help strengthen security to the overall supply chain and movement of goods across the border.

C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism)

This is a program of the U.S. Customs Service. The main focus of this is similar to the goals of PIP in ensuring that companies adopt and implement heightened security procedures.

Basically the Customs agencies of each country are asking businesses to review their operations ensuring the integrity of security practices and that guidelines set forth by both agencies are further strengthened throughout the supply chain.


What is involved in getting FAST certified?

First you must be involved and enrolled in PIP (for Canadian Companies) and C-TPAT (for U.S. Companies). Once certified in these programs you are eligible to participate in FAST. FAST will make trans-border commercial shipments simpler and subject to fewer delays while enhancing security.

What’s involved in getting CSA, PIP, or C-TPAT approval?

There are a number of steps and processes to be completed before receiving government approval or certification in each program. Step 1 involves signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which acknowledges that your organization will partner with Customs agencies to adhere to, enhance, and focus on security, awareness, and the exchange of information. Step 2 involves completing a supply chain security profile questionnaire. This “self-assessment” will help Customs identify any weakness in security processes and will enable them to help companies address any deficiencies.

PIP and C-TPAT are prerequisites to obtaining FAST certification. The overall goal is to minimize the threat of illegal activity. Government expectations are that documented, verifiable security programs consistent with PIP and C-TPAT guidelines are in place.

What are the consequences of not signing up?

Importers who are not approved for PIP (Canadian Companies) or C-TPAT (U.S. Companies) will lose their approved status for other Customs programs. Programs that require participants to be PIP or C-TPAT certified include:

  • Advance Commercial Information (ACI)
  • Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)
  • Customs Self Assessment (CSA)
  • Free And Secure Trade (FAST)
  • Importer Self Assessment
  • Low Risk Importers
  • National Customs Automation Program (NCAP)


What are the advantages of the FAST program?

  • Increased supply chain security
  • Reduced number of inspections
  • Reduced border clearance times
  • Dedicated lanes at designated crossing points for greater speed and efficiency in the clearance of FAST trans border shipments
  • Corporate commitment to increased supply chain security
  • Continued commitment to common goals set forth by Canadian and U.S. Customs agencies