Preclearance Act (S.C. 1999, c. 20)

Act current to 2016-11-21

Preclearance Act

S.C. 1999, c. 20

Assented to 1999-06-17

An Act authorizing the United States to preclear travellers and goods in Canada for entry into the United States for the purposes of customs, immigration, public health, food inspection and plant and animal health

Preamble

WHEREAS the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Air Transport Preclearance was entered into on May 8, 1974;

WHEREAS since that date it has become desirable to put in place statutory authority, on a reciprocal basis in both Canada and the United States, to facilitate the movement of travellers and goods across the border between the two countries by all means of transportation;

WHEREAS it would facilitate cross-border travel and movement of goods if those provisions of American law directly related to the admission of travellers and the importation of goods into the United States, but excluding criminal law, were allowed to be administered in Canada;

AND WHEREAS the administration of any provision of American law in Canada is subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act;

NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Preclearance Act.

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

 The definitions in this section apply in this Act.

Canadian officer

agent canadien

Canadian officer means a peace officer or a person who is authorized to enforce an Act of Parliament. (agent canadien)

goods

marchandises

goods includes means of transport, animals and plants and their products, and any document in any form, but does not include anything prescribed by a regulation made under paragraph 38(1)(a). (marchandises)

Minister

ministre

Minister, in respect of any provision of this Act, means the member or members of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada designated under section 3 as the Minister or Ministers for the purpose of that provision. (ministre)

preclearance area

zone de précontrôle

preclearance area means an area designated by the Minister under section 7. (zone de précontrôle)

preclearance laws

droit de précontrôle

preclearance laws means the law of the United States with respect to customs, immigration, public health, food inspection and plant and animal health that is applicable to the admission of travellers or the importation of goods to the United States, including the laws listed in the schedule. It includes monetary penalty provisions in such law but does not include anything that would be considered criminal under Canadian law. (droit de précontrôle)

preclearance officer

contrôleur

preclearance officer means a person authorized by the United States to perform preclearance duties in Canada for the purposes of customs, immigration, public health, food inspection and plant and animal health. (contrôleur)

Designation of Minister

Marginal note:Order designating Minister

 The Governor in Council may, by order, designate any member or members of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada as the Minister or Ministers for the purpose of any provision of this Act.

Purpose

Marginal note:Purpose

 The purpose of this Act is to permit the administration of preclearance laws in Canada, subject to Canadian constitutional safeguards, in order to facilitate the movement of travellers and goods between Canada and the United States, based on the principle of reciprocity.

Marginal note:Reciprocity

 The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, by order, restrict any immunity or privileges under this Act if, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, the immunity or privileges exceed those accorded to Canada by the United States.

Administration of Preclearance Laws

Marginal note:Preclearance laws
  •  (1) Preclearance laws may be administered in Canada in a preclearance area with respect to travellers who seek admission to, and with respect to goods to be imported into, the United States, subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

  • Marginal note:Preclearance laws not to be administered

    (2) When proceedings are instituted in Canada with respect to an act or omission that occurs in a preclearance area and that is an offence under Canadian law punishable by indictment or on summary conviction, monetary penalties that could otherwise be imposed under preclearance laws may not be imposed in Canada with respect to that act or omission.

  • Marginal note:Canadian officer

    (3) Nothing in this Act precludes a Canadian officer from enforcing Canadian law in a preclearance area.

Preclearance and Intransit Areas

Marginal note:Preclearance areas
  •  (1) The Minister may designate preclearance areas where preclearance officers may preclear travellers and goods for entry into the United States.

  • Marginal note:Air travel

    (2) The Minister may designate all or part of a preclearance area as an intransit area that is to be used for the preclearance of travellers and goods that are in transit through Canada by air to the United States.

  • Marginal note:Amendment, cancellation or reinstatement of designation

    (3) The Minister may amend, cancel or reinstate at any time a designation made under this section.

Marginal note:Access to a preclearance area
  •  (1) Only persons who are travellers destined for the United States or any person or category of persons designated by regulation may enter a preclearance area.

  • Marginal note:Reporting to a preclearance officer

    (2) Every traveller who enters a preclearance area must report to a preclearance officer without delay.

Marginal note:Arrival in an intransit area

 In order to travel through Canada to the United States through an intransit area, a traveller must report without delay on arrival in Canada to a preclearance officer at the intransit area.

Marginal note:Right of traveller to leave preclearance area
  •  (1) Every traveller has the right, at any stage of the preclearance process, to leave a preclearance area without departing for the United States, unless a preclearance officer informs the traveller that the officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the traveller has committed an offence under section 33 or 34.

  • Marginal note:Departure from an intransit area

    (2) Every traveller, whether travelling from Canada or in transit through Canada, who leaves an intransit area without departing immediately for the United States must report without delay to a customs officer and an immigration officer for examination.

Powers of Preclearance Officers

Marginal note:Powers and duties — preclearance area
  •  (1) A preclearance officer may exercise the powers conferred and perform the duties imposed on the officer under this Act and the regulations only in a preclearance area.

  • Marginal note:Outside a preclearance area

    (2) Outside a preclearance area, a preclearance officer may examine a means of transport that is subject to preclearance, including goods, currency and monetary instruments that are in, or that are to be loaded onto, that means of transport.

  • Marginal note:Reporting after examination

    (3) After the examination described in subsection (2), the preclearance officer may request that a traveller, or anything that is in or that is to be loaded onto the means of transport, be sent to a preclearance area to be dealt with in accordance with this Act.

  • Marginal note:Assistance of a Canadian officer

    (4) If a traveller refuses to go to a preclearance area, the preclearance officer may request a Canadian officer to take the traveller to the preclearance area, and the Canadian officer is authorized to do so.

Marginal note:Protection of persons acting under authority
  •  (1) A preclearance officer is, if the officer acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what the officer is required or authorized to do under this Act or the regulations, and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.

  • Marginal note:When not protected

    (2) A preclearance officer must not use force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm unless the officer believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary for self-preservation or the preservation of anyone under the officer’s protection from death or grievous bodily harm.

Marginal note:Assistance of a Canadian officer

 A preclearance officer may request a Canadian officer to assist in exercising the powers of search, examination, seizure and detention conferred on the preclearance officer by this Act, and the Canadian officer is authorized to exercise those powers.

Marginal note:Orders of a preclearance officer

 A preclearance officer may order anyone found in a preclearance area to report to the officer or to leave the area.

Marginal note:Reporting goods
  •  (1) Every traveller reporting to a preclearance officer must report all goods in their possession or that form part of their baggage or that are on board a means of transport under their charge.

  • Marginal note:Examination of goods

    (2) If requested to do so by a preclearance officer, a traveller must present to the officer any of their goods, remove any covering from the goods, unload any means of transport or open any part of it, or open or unpack any package or container that the officer wishes to examine.

Marginal note:Answers to questions
  •  (1) If the traveller chooses to answer any question that is asked by a preclearance officer for preclearance purposes, the traveller must answer truthfully.

  • Marginal note:Refusal to answer

    (2) If the traveller refuses to answer any question asked for preclearance purposes, the preclearance officer may order the traveller to leave the preclearance area.

  • Marginal note:Refusal to answer not grounds for suspicion

    (3) The refusal by a traveller to answer any question asked by a preclearance officer does not in and of itself constitute reasonable grounds for the officer to suspect that a search of the traveller is necessary for the purposes of this Act or that an offence has been committed under section 33 or 34.

Marginal note:Assistance of Canadian officer

 A preclearance officer may request a Canadian officer to remove from a preclearance area any person who refuses to obey an order described in section 14 or subsection 16(2), and the Canadian officer is authorized to remove that person.

Marginal note:Refusal to preclear

 If a traveller, or a person in control of goods, does not satisfy a preclearance officer that they can be admitted or that their goods can be imported to the United States in accordance with preclearance laws, the officer may refuse to preclear the traveller or goods.

Search of Persons

Marginal note:Definitions

 The definitions in this section apply in sections 20 to 23.

frisk search

fouille par palpation

frisk search means a search by manual or technical means of a person’s clothed body. (fouille par palpation)

strip search

fouille à nu

strip search means a visual inspection of a person’s naked body. (fouille à nu)

Marginal note:Frisk search — danger

 A preclearance officer may conduct a frisk search of any person if the officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the person is carrying anything that would present a danger to human life or safety.

Marginal note:Frisk search — evidence

 A preclearance officer may conduct a frisk search of a traveller if the officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the traveller is carrying anything that would afford evidence of a contravention of section 33.

Marginal note:Strip search
  •  (1) A preclearance officer may detain any person if the officer suspects on reasonable grounds that a strip search is necessary for the purpose of section 20 or 21 and, in that case, must without delay request a Canadian officer to conduct the search.

  • Marginal note:Powers of Canadian officer

    (2) After receiving a request described in subsection (1), the Canadian officer may conduct the strip search if the officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the search is necessary for the purpose of section 20 or 21. The preclearance officer may be present for the search.

Marginal note:Right to be taken before a senior officer
  •  (1) A preclearance officer or Canadian officer must, before conducting a search described in section 21 or 22, inform the traveller of their right to be taken before a senior officer and, if the traveller so requests, must take the traveller before that officer.

  • Marginal note:Powers of senior officer

    (2) The senior officer may direct the traveller to be searched only if the officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the search is necessary for the purpose of section 21 or 22.

  • Marginal note:Search by same sex

    (3) A preclearance officer or Canadian officer may not perform a search under section 21 or 22 of a person of the opposite sex. If no officer of the same sex is available, the preclearance officer or Canadian officer may authorize any suitable person of the same sex to perform the search.

  • Marginal note:Observation of strip search

    (4) A preclearance officer may not observe a strip search under section 22 of a person of the opposite sex. If no officer of the same sex is available, the preclearance officer may authorize any suitable person of the same sex to observe the search.

Marginal note:Detention of travellers
  •  (1) A preclearance officer may detain any traveller if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the traveller has contravened section 33 or has committed an offence under an Act of Parliament that is punishable by indictment or on summary conviction.

  • Marginal note:Delivery to a peace officer

    (2) The preclearance officer must deliver any traveller detained under subsection (1) as soon as possible into the custody of a peace officer within the meaning of paragraph (c) of the definition peace officer in section 2 of the Criminal Code.

Examination of Goods

Marginal note:Examination of goods
  •  (1) A preclearance officer may examine any goods that are submitted for preclearance, and may open or cause to be opened any package or container and take samples of the goods in reasonable amounts.

  • Marginal note:Examination of currency and monetary instruments

    (2) A preclearance officer may examine currency and monetary instruments that are found in a preclearance area.

Marginal note:Right to detain goods
  •  (1) A preclearance officer

    • (a) may detain any goods that are submitted for preclearance, until the officer is satisfied that the goods have been dealt with in accordance with this Act, the regulations and preclearance laws; or

    • (b) may detain anything designated by regulations under paragraph 38(1)(d), and must without delay transfer that thing to a Canadian officer.

  • Marginal note:Detention mandatory

    (2) A preclearance officer must detain anything the possession, import, export or handling of which the officer believes on reasonable grounds to be an offence under Canadian law punishable by indictment or on summary conviction and anything that the officer believes on reasonable grounds will afford evidence of that offence, and must without delay transfer anything so detained to a Canadian officer who is authorized to receive it.

Marginal note:Seizure of goods
  •  (1) A preclearance officer may seize any goods referred to in paragraph 26(1)(a) that the officer believes on reasonable grounds relate to a false or deceptive statement made in contravention of section 33.

  • Marginal note:Seizure of evidence

    (2) A preclearance officer may, if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that there has been a contravention of section 33, seize any goods that the officer believes on reasonable grounds will afford evidence of the contravention.

Marginal note:Forfeiture of seized goods

 Subject to subsection 26(2), goods lawfully seized by a preclearance officer under this Act are subject to forfeiture procedures under preclearance laws.

Passenger Information

Definition of specified passenger information

 For the purposes of sections 30 to 32, specified passenger information means information prescribed by regulations under paragraph 38(1)(c) about any person who is travelling by aircraft to the United States and whose travel route provides for arrival in Canada in an intransit area.

Marginal note:Duty to provide specified passenger information
  •  (1) A transportation company that operates an aircraft carrying passengers described in section 29 must, before the arrival of the aircraft in Canada, provide a preclearance officer with specified passenger information for those passengers.

  • Marginal note:Failure to provide specified passenger information

    (2) If a transportation company fails to provide the information required under subsection (1), the preclearance officer may refuse to preclear the passengers or their goods in an intransit area.

Marginal note:Use of specified passenger information
  •  (1) A preclearance officer may use specified passenger information for the purposes of discharging their duties under this Act and preclearance laws, and may

    • (a) examine the information for travel methods, behaviours or patterns for the purpose of applying the appropriate preclearance measures in respect of passengers and their goods; and

    • (b) search and match data contained in the information with other data available to the officer.

  • Marginal note:Disclosure of information to a Canadian officer

    (2) A preclearance officer may disclose to a Canadian officer any specified passenger information and any of the preclearance officer’s findings with respect to the information, to the extent that the information is required by the Canadian officer for the performance of the duties of the Canadian officer, and to the extent that the Canadian officer is authorized by law to have access to the information.

Marginal note:Use and destruction of passenger information
  •  (1) A preclearance officer must

    • (a) use any specified passenger information only in the administration and enforcement of this Act and preclearance laws; and

    • (b) destroy specified passenger information within 24 hours after the officer obtains it, unless the information is reasonably required for the administration or enforcement of Canadian law or preclearance laws.

  • Marginal note:Duty to protect information

    (2) A preclearance officer must take reasonable measures to protect specified passenger information that is under the officer’s control from unauthorized use and disclosure.

Offences and Punishment

Marginal note:False or deceptive statements
  •  (1) Every person who makes an oral or written statement to a preclearance officer with respect to the preclearance of the person or any goods for entry into the United States that the person knows to be false or deceptive or to contain information that the person knows is false or deceptive is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a maximum fine of $5,000.

  • Marginal note:No imprisonment on default of payment of fine

    (2) Notwithstanding subsection 787(2) of the Criminal Code, a term of imprisonment may not be imposed for default of payment of a fine imposed under subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:No criminal record

    (3) An offence under subsection (1) does not constitute an offence for the purposes of the Criminal Records Act.

Marginal note:Obstruction of officer

 Every person who resists or wilfully obstructs a preclearance officer or a Canadian officer in the execution of the officer’s duty or any person lawfully acting in aid of such an officer

  • (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years; or

  • (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Marginal note:Unauthorized use of specified passenger information

 Every person who fails to comply with the provisions of section 32 is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 12 months, or to both.

Civil Liability and Immunity

Marginal note:Relief against the United States
  •  (1) An action or other proceeding of a civil nature, in which the United States is not immune under the State Immunity Act from the jurisdiction of a court in Canada, may be brought against the United States in respect of anything that is, or is purported to be, done or omitted to be done within the scope of their duties by a preclearance officer.

  • Marginal note:Immunity

    (2) No action or other proceeding of a civil nature may be brought against a preclearance officer in respect of anything that is done or omitted to be done by the officer under this Act or the regulations.

  • Marginal note:Crown Liability and Proceedings Act

    (3) For greater certainty, a preclearance officer is not a servant of the Crown for the purposes of the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act.

  • Marginal note:Persons assisting preclearance officers

    (4) For the purposes of this section, the term “preclearance officer” includes any person who assists a preclearance officer at the officer’s request, but does not include a Canadian officer.

The following provision is not in force.
Marginal note:Decisions not reviewable

 No decision of a preclearance officer to refuse preclearance, or to refuse the admission of persons or the importation of goods to the United States, is subject to judicial review in Canada.

Regulations

Marginal note:Regulations
  •  (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act, including regulations

    • (a) excluding anything from the definition of goods in section 2;

    • (b) designating the persons or categories of persons who may enter a preclearance area;

    • (c) prescribing specified passenger information, the manner of providing it, and the purpose for which, and the manner in which, a preclearance officer may use and communicate that information;

    • (d) designating anything the possession, import, export or handling of which is prohibited, controlled or regulated by or under this or any other Act of Parliament;

    • (e) providing for the manner of disposing of detained, seized or forfeited goods; and

    • (f) prescribing anything that by this Act is to be prescribed.

  • Marginal note:Amendment of schedule

    (2) The Minister may, by order, amend the schedule by adding or deleting any law of the United States with respect to customs, immigration, public health, food inspection and plant and animal health that is applicable to the admission of travellers or the importation of goods to the United States.

Five-year Review

Marginal note:Review

 Five years after this Act comes into force, the Minister shall cause an independent review of the Act and its administration and operation to be conducted, and shall cause a report on the review to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the review is completed.

Coming into Force

Marginal note:Coming into force

Footnote * This Act or any of its provisions comes into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

  • Return to footnote *[Note: Sections 1 and 3 in force December 13, 2001, see SI/2002-12; sections 2, 4 to 36, 38 and 39 in force May 1, 2002, see SI/2002-73.]

SCHEDULE(Section 2 and subsection 38(2))

  • Agriculture (Title 7 of the U.S. Code)
  • Aliens and Nationality (Title 8 of the U.S. Code)
  • Custom Duties (Title 19 of the U.S. Code)
  • Food and Drugs (Title 21 of the U.S. Code)
  • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended
  • Public Health and Welfare (Title 42 of the U.S. Code)
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