TSA issues interim rule on crossborder hazmat driver credentials

In keeping with previously announced plans, the Transportation Security Administration today, Aug. 7, published an interim final rule declaring that commercial motor vehicle drivers licensed in Canada or Mexico may use Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program cards as acceptable credential to transport placarded amounts of hazardous materials or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73 within the United States.

Under last year’s highway legislation, Canadian and Mexican drivers transporting hazardous materials in the United States must – effective Thursday, Aug. 10 – undergo background checks similar to those required for U.S.-licensed operators holding hazardous materials endorsements on their commercial driver’s licenses.

FAST is a voluntary cooperative effort among U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the governments of Canada and Mexico that allows drivers and carriers to obtain expedited processing of commercial shipments at U.S. borders. The program authorizes expedited processing of known, low-risk participants. Under the FAST Commercial Driver Program, commercial truck drivers licensed in Canada, Mexico or the United States may volunteer to undergo a background records check in order to receive individual FAST cards and expedited entrance privileges at the northern and southern borders.

TSA concluded that the FAST background records check for commercial driver applicants is similar to that required for domestic hazmat drivers and that acceptance into the FAST Commercial Driver program is sufficient to meet the crossborder requirements.

This interim rule also removes pre-existing procedures for commercial drivers who transport explosives into the United States from Canada and replaces it with a revised provision that applies to commercial drivers who transport explosives, as well as other hazardous materials, into and within the United States.

The interim rule takes effect Thursday, Aug. 10, but the agency is taking comments on the action through Oct. 6. For a copy of the interim final rule, go to http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 25541. For more information on CBP’s FAST program, go to www.cbp.gov.