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Prince Rupert becomes first marine location in Canada for U.S. border preclearance

Travel will be more efficient at the Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry terminal
Prince Rupert is now the first marine location in Canada to have immigration preclearance implemented for easier ferry access to Alaska from B.C. The Alaska Marine Highway MV Matanuska passengers onboard Auke Bay Ferry Terminal Jan. 30, 2020. (Peter Segall

Prince Rupert has become the first location in Canada to provide marine travellers with preclearance for faster and easier US Customs and Border Protection processing procedures on their trips between British Columbia and Alaska.

Coinciding with the return of the Alaskan Marine Highway System Ferry’s (AMHSF) first voyage between Prince Rupert and Ketchican since 2019, the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, and the Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, made the joint announcement on June 20.

Travellers can now fully clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry Terminal in Prince Rupert, resulting in a quicker and more streamlined arrival in Alaska. The conversion from “preinspection” to “preclearance” in the Prince Rupert location will help bolster travel and trade by ensuring secure, fast, and reliable service for ferry passengers, a media statement read.

The Prince Rupert preinspection facility historically saw more than 7,000 passengers and 4,500 vehicles cross the border yearly. The ferry transportation service is operated by the Government of Alaska, which leases the AMHFS terminal from the Port of Prince Rupert. Canada and the US share the longest border in the world.

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Mendicino said immigration preclearance in Prince Rupert is a major milestone for both countries as it helps travel and trade move more efficiently across the Canada-U.S. border and is a major asset for both countries.

“Given its significant benefits from both an economic and security perspective, the government will continue working with our American partners to expand preclearance at more airports, ports and train stations so people and goods can move more smoothly across our shared border,” the public safety minister said.

Preclearance is the process by which border officers from the United States carry out immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections and other requirements in Canada before allowing the movement of goods or people across the border.

Preclearance locations have operated at major Canadian airports for years, while more ports and train stations have somewhat limited “pre-inspection” facilities. In recent years, the Canadian government has been working collaboratively with the United States to convert them to preclearance.

“The formalization of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Preclearance process at Prince Rupert is the result of a multi-year effort,” said Bruce Murley, CBP Acting Director of Field Operations in San Francisco.

“CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists will process passengers at Prince Rupert prior to departure, thereby facilitating legitimate entry into the United States.”

K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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