If you are a Canadian resident or citizen who spends a lot of time in the U.S., you need to keep a careful record of exactly how long you are south of the border.
Under the Entry Exit Initiative, officials on both sides can track how many days travellers spend in either country, and there are some serious implications if you exceed agreed limits.
The new rules are part of a broad agreement first struck in 2011, called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, and moved forward during Justin Trudeau’s trip to Washington in March.
The formula is complicated, but for regular travellers the yearly limit is 120 days, or four months, averaged over three years – not the six-month period of 182 days that many think it is.
Counting The Days: The Formula
(Total number of days spent in current year)
(1/3 the total number of days spent in previous year)
(1/6 the number of days spent in year before that)
Anyone wishing to extend this limit to 182 days must file a Closer Connection Exception Statement.
Those exceeding the yearly limit face being considered a US resident, and having to pay the resultant taxes. They could also lose their Canadian residency and access to health care, or be deemed an illegal resident in the US, which could result in being banned from the country for up to 10 years.
Quick Facts: The Canada-US Border
- Longest international border in world at 8,891km, 2,475km of which is with Alaska
- 400,000 people and $2.4 billion in trade cross the border each day
- Canada and US are second and fourth largest countries in the world by area
- Canadian provinces and territories on border: Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick
- US states on border: Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine
During Trudeau’s well-publicised trip, there were several new initiatives agreed, although they are still to be ratified by the Canadian parliament.
They include a planned expansion of the number of places in Canada where pre-clearance of the US border is available.
The service is currently available at the airports in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Following the new agreement, the Billy Bishop airport at Toronto Island and the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City could be added to that list, while train routes into the US from Montreal and Western Canada could also be considered, as well as certain cargo routes.
As well as the entry and exit data, the two countries will also share information on names and dates of birth of travellers.
The names on the ‘no-fly’ lists of Canada and the US will also be shared, which has not happened previously.
The original deal was agreed by the previous Conservative government with the US in 2011.
It aimed to boost cooperation between the two countries to facilitate the flow of people, goods and services.
According to Public Safety Canada, the plan aimed to address four main areas:
- Addressing threats early
- Enhance understanding through joint assessments
- Share information and intelligence in support of law enforcement and national security
- Cooperation to counter violent extremism
- Trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs
- Implement additional pre-inspection and pre-clearance initiatives
- Bring greater transparency and accountability to border fees
- Review border fees and inventories
- Cross-border law enforcement
- Cooperate on national security and transnational criminal investigations
- Provide interoperable radio capability for law enforcement
- Critical infrastructure and cyber security
- Enhance cross-border critical infrastructure protection and resilience
- Protect government and digital infrastructure
- Expand joint leadership on international cyber-security efforts
- Develop a framework for swiftly managing traffic in the event of an emergency
- Enhance preparedness for health security threats
- Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergency management
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