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FAST for commercial drivers
  • Employers benefit from having drivers participate in FAST.
  • Drivers must meet certain qualifications to be approved for a FAST card.
  • Once approved, drivers must comply with the terms and conditions of the FAST program.

Participation in the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program for drivers not only benefits the drivers’ employers, but it also assists the drivers in the border crossing experience.

The benefits of being an approved driver in the FAST Commercial Driver Program include:

  • Use of FAST-dedicated lanes to cross the borders where available;
  • Accelerated Customs and Immigration processing; and
  • Eligibility to carry cargo for FAST-approved shippers, carriers, and importers.

In addition to the standard Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)/FAST benefits, drivers may be able to use this background investigation in other mandated security programs.

FAST vetting process used for other programs

The FAST background investigation uses similar, and in some instances, the same databases as other U.S. driver vetting programs. Rather than duplicate the process, placing an unnecessary burden on the driver and motor carrier, the FAST card may be used for dual purposes for the requirements below.

FAST reciprocity for HAZMAT endorsement. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), drivers licensed in Canada or Mexico to commercially transport hazardous materials will be required to undergo a background check under the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) FAST program before transporting placarded amounts of hazardous materials (hazmat) in the United States.

Commercial drivers licensed in Canada or Mexico be restricted from transporting hazardous materials, including explosives, within the U.S. unless drivers have undergone a background check similar to that required for U.S. operators with a hazmat endorsement. TSA has determined that the FAST card, issued by CBP, satisfies the vetting standard requirements as set forth under SAFETEA-LU for commercial vehicle operators registered to operate in Mexico or Canada.

The Hazmat Threat Assessment Program, under the direction of TSA, requires commercial truck drivers applying to obtain, renew, or transfer the hazardous materials endorsement (HME) on the person’s state-issued commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) to undergo security threat assessments conducted by TSA.

FAST reciprocity for transporting explosives. Drivers licensed in Canada or Mexico who transport explosive materials come under the broader definition of hazmat (see section immediately above) and will ensure that drivers licensed to carry explosives are fully vetted by CBP before transporting explosives.

FAST card satisfies WHTI. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which requires either a passport or other acceptable travel document, was required to enter the United States via a land entry from any point in North America. These travel documents are also required of U.S. citizens and alien residents who wish to re-enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has indicated that the FAST card is an acceptable travel documents for land entry.

FAST card qualifications

To qualify for the FAST program, a driver must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States (U.S.), Mexico, or Canada, be age 18 or over, and possess a valid driver’s license. A driver must be admissible into the United States and Canada under applicable immigration laws.

In the case of admissibility for the U.S.-Canadian border, both countries must approve the application. Failure to meet the requirements of both countries will result in the denial of the application. A driver can also be disqualified for the following reasons:

  • Providing false or incomplete information on the application;
  • Having been convicted of a criminal offense;
  • Having been found in violation of customs or immigration law; and/or
  • Having failed to meet other requirements of the FAST Commercial Driver Program.

When a driver is approved for the FAST program, the driver must comply with the terms and conditions of the program. Drivers:

  • Must comply with all customs and immigration laws;
  • Must carry the card at all times, and show when requested, the FAST Commercial Driver card plus any necessary personal identification, including immigration documents;
  • Must ensure that all persons in the vehicle have a valid FAST Commercial Driver card before reaching the border (if any passengers in the vehicle do not possess a FAST card, the regular service lanes will have to be used);
  • Cannot transfer a FAST card to another individual;
  • Cannot violate the immigration regulations of the United States and Canada concerning Cabotage; and
  • If no longer participating in the FAST program, must return the FAST card to the proper authority.