No automation for Nelway border crossing … yet

Automation won’t be coming to the ports of entry in the Greater Trail region despite earlier claims.

Automation won’t be coming to the ports of entry in the Greater Trail region despite earlier claims in a leaked report of its possible presence, according to a Canadian Border Services Agency official.

Senior media spokesperson Esme Bailey said automated border clearance (ABC) like the one recently installed in Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as a pilot project is a service that is exclusive to the Lower Mainland.

There are no plans right now to expand the program to land ports of entry, which includes Waneta, Nelway and Patterson ports of entry, Bailey said in an email to the Daily Times.

“There has been no decision to close or centralize any port of entry along the Canada/U.S. border,” Bailey said.

However, in December, 2011, an internal Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) report detailing the next step in streamlining border crossings showed the Nelway port of entry as being identified for remote technology solution, which consists of travelers interviewed by border personnel via video camera.

The report also identified the Midway crossing for three potential changes: closure, remote-technology solution or shared facilities.

However, Bailey’s comments did not rule out examining future closures or remote technology solution.

“Discussions with U.S. counterparts include shared services, facilities and technology to improve accessibility across the border,” Bailey said. “The Small Ports working group continues to refine recommendations for each port of entry under consideration. At this time, no plans have been finalized for any port of entry.”

Automating certain low-volume ports of entry would allow the agency to find cost efficiencies while continuing to maintain services and border security for Canadians, Bailey added. Travelers would be processed and inspected remotely at land border ports of entry.

Until that time, Bailey said the focus at Nelway is on ensuring the shared border with the U.S. is secure while easing the flow of legitimate travel and trade

ABC uses self-service kiosk technology to partially automate the processing of eligible travelers (Canadian citizens with a valid Canadian passport and Canadian permanent residents (PR) with a valid PR card) returning to Canada through international airports.

The ABC pilot at YVR has quickened the time needed for passenger screening and border processing for eligible passengers and has produced some benefits, including “increased client satisfaction and reduced wait times.”

Travellers should have all of the necessary documents on hand when they approach the kiosk, including the CBSA E311 declaration card, their Canadian passport or Canadian permanent resident card, and all receipts for purchases made abroad.

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