Trucking seeks flexibility in passport requirement for drivers

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Nearly a year after President Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the trucking industry is seeking flexibility in the act’s regulatory implementation so that commercial drivers are not mandated to carry a passport.

Speaking Thursday, Nov. 17 on behalf of the American Trucking Associations before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, Kenneth Staub Jr. — vice president of flatbed carrier Riverside Service Corp. — said if commercial drivers were required to carry passports, the additional process and expense could dissuade drivers from transporting international commerce between the United States and its two largest trading partners. Passports also would duplicate existing government-issued identification for commercial drivers and security documentation, he said.

“While trucking has worked with various government agencies on security for cross-border trade, it is important to recognize that security and trade facilitation go hand in hand,” said Staub, whose Buffalo-based truckload carrier firm — along with sister company Black Rock Trucking Inc. — delivers freight to and from Canada.

The act calls for development of a plan to tighten document requirements for both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals entering the country. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative permits U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens to enter the United States only with passports or alternative documentation that designates identity and citizenship.

Because commercial drivers already are subject to a variety of credentialing and security programs, the trucking industry is urging the government to consider certain existing federal credentials in lieu of passports. These include Border Crossing Cards, Free and Secure Trade (FAST) IDs, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and other appropriate government-issued identifications and screening programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, 11.5 million trucks crossed the U.S. borders in 2003. U.S. trade with Canada now is valued at $444 billion, and trade with Mexico is valued at $266 billion.