U.S. extends deadline for foreign hazmat checks

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Canadian truckers recently were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the U.S. Transportation Security Administration granted a six-month extension for background checks of foreign drivers of hazardous materials. The original deadline of Friday, Feb. 10, was extended to Aug. 10.

The requirement currently is being phased in for U.S. hazmat drivers, who must pass a background security check before obtaining or renewing their hazardous materials endorsements on their commercial drivers’ licenses. A similar endorsement for Canadian hazmat truck drivers has proven more problematic: Unlike hazmat drivers in the United States, Canadian drivers are not required to have a hazmat endorsement on their commercial driver licenses.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has proposed the Free And Secure Trade (FAST) driver card as a means to allow foreign driver compliance with the background check requirement for hazmat haulers. FAST applicants also must be fingerprinted and have background checks performed and approved by the United States and Canada, according to CTA; a system to process FAST cards already is in place, and more than 50,000 have been issued.

“The extension of the deadline, and the expected announcement that the FAST card will be accepted by TSA, is great news for Canada and for Canadian carriers,” says David Bradley, CTA chief executive officer. “The FAST card option we proposed more than two years ago, if accepted by TSA, would not only solve the hazmat security check dilemma, but also add value to the FAST program. We appreciate the efforts the Government of Canada has made in support of CTA on this issue, as well as the willingness of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hear our concerns, and will continue to work with federal officials on details of implementation.”