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Canada Customs Preclearance Bill C-23

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Crossing Borders Seamlessly

Canada Customs Preclearance Bill C-23

A new bill would give American border guards more authority in Canada. Bill C-23 would give preclearance officers who work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Canadian soil the power to question, search and detain Canadians travelling to the United States via preclearance facilities at select Canadian airports.

Bill C-23 was started to speed customs procedures that slowed down as a result of 9-11, and recently passed a second reading in the House of Commons. It would give preclearance officers who work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Canadian soil the power to detain Canadians travelling to the United States who are clearing customs at preclearance facilities at select Canadian airports.

Immigration experts are concerned about the legal implications of Bill C-23 for the current 12million Canadians who go through preclearance at 8 Canada airports. The bill was first negotiated between the governments of former prime minister Stephen Harper and former U.S. president Barack Obama as part of the Beyond the Border agreement. Canadian federal government has pointed to the fact that the bill establishes that preclearance officers’ duties and functions will be subject to Canadian law.

If passed, Bill C-23 will:

  • allow U.S. border guards to carry guns on Canadian soil
  • increase the number of airports in Canada that have U.S. pre-clearance
  • require travellers who want to withdraw their application if asked a question they feel is inappropriate to answer questions about why they are withdrawing
  • permit U.S. Customs agents to strip search Canadians if their Canadian counterparts are not available to conduct a search when notified

To learn more about Bill C-23, read here.


Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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