Truckers: Border Fees Creating Economic Wall Between Canada and US

While pundits debate whether President-elect Donald Trump will in fact build a wall between America and its NAFTA neighbours, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is reminding politicians in both Canada and the U.S. how escalating costs and redundant fees imposed by governments at the border can be just as stifling as any physical barrier.

“Trade between our two great nations is the number one source of exports for 35 states, creating 9 million U.S jobs as a result,” said Stephen Laskowski, senior vice president, CTA. “Our members’ trucks haul close to two-thirds of this trade. Raising the amount of penalties and types of fees at the border is increasing the cost of goods made in North America, which reduces their competitiveness in comparison to off-shore products.

“If Ottawa and Washington begin examining new trade deals then there also needs to be a review and reconsideration of the fees and penalties associated with trucking goods across the border.”

These include:

  • US Custom decals: Also known as a User Fee, is an RFID sticker that transmits information about a vehicle and border crossing User Fee payment status. The cost of these decals has risen from $205 US/truck to $401.67 US/truck.
  • The User Fee cannot not be pro-rated for purchases made mid-year. Transponders have a life span of up to 10 years and remain with the vehicle, even if sold.
  • APHIS fees: APHIS is responsible for protecting U.S. crops and livestock from pests and diseases and for monitoring and promoting wildlife management and animal welfare. The original annual cost per truck, regardless of whether it carries agricultural product or not, was $105 when first introduced in 2007. For trucks using transponders, the annual fees have risen from US $105 to US $301.67 – a 200-percent hike that may violate at least two trade agreements. Vehicles that do not have an annual User Fee will be required to pay a per crossing fee each time the vehicle enters the United States of $13.05, a number which includes both US CBP and APHIS fees.
  • Off-load charges at the border, such as those associated for the use of third party services to remove pallets from the trucks during examinations can average $650 on the U.S. side and $350 in Canada per inspection. These costs do not include driver detention time, which can add hundreds of dollars to the final cost.
  • Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPS) are given to carriers in Canada for failure to meet mandatory ACI reporting requirements as defined by CBSA. These penalty levels can now be escalated and range as high as $8000 or more for ACI related contraventions, including some offences CTA would deem to be minor or low security related.

“US CBP and CBSA have been good partners with the Canadian Trucking Alliance by working with the industry at finding ways to mitigate the impact of these fees on our sector. Ultimately, however, there needs to be political direction on both sides of the border to weigh the risk and negative impact to the economy from these escalating border fees,” said Laskowski. “Trucking companies, whose margins on a good day are razor thin, cannot absorb these costs. Make no mistake about it, these costs will be bounced onto consumers in U.S. states and provinces, Canada and US-made product less competitive.”

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