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Cross-Border Travel Alert for Assignees to the US

CompassPOINTS - December 2006

By Diana Matwichuk, Manager Assignment Planning Services

The US government has just released the details of new entry travel requirements, which could significantly affect assignees to the US. According to a news release issued on November 22, 2006 by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, as of January 23 2007 all Canadian citizens entering or transiting the US by air must present to US officials one of the following identification documents:

  • Valid Canadian passport; or
  • NEXUS Air card, when used at a NEXUS Air kiosk

Without the appropriate identification, US permission to board the aircraft may not be granted, and delays and unexpected financial expenses may also occur. Critical people may not arrive on time, thus upsetting US clients and Canadian companies.

New travel requirements for entry to the US via land and sea routes have not yet been determined, but details will be released as early as January 1, 2008.

Nexus is a joint venture of the Canada Border Service Agency and US Customs and Border Protection. It is an expedited traveler program for pre-approved, low-risk travelers, currently only operational for air travel out of the Vancouver airport. If you are located in the Vancouver area, you may want to investigate the program's suitabilty for your rotational assignees to the US.

Impact on US Assignees

Assignees to the US should ensure that they have a valid Canadian passport which is not about to expire in the next 6 months. Unfortunately, lineups at passport offices are notoriously long at the best of times, and this recent announcement is certainly not going to improve the wait times.

On that note, assignees may also want to allow for extra travel time to the US, to compensate for longer lineups at airport security and US immigration.

Evidence of visas and work permits to the US are likely also to be questioned more often, and assignees traveling to the US should carry copies with them for US border review. It is also a good idea for assignees to carry notarized copies of their passport with them, as a measure of personal security, and be aware of the procedures for reporting a lost or stolen passport.

Assignees should also be briefed on how to conduct themselves at border crossings, and advised to register with the Canadian embassy upon arrival. We normally include border crossing and consular advice in the assignment documentation we assemble for Canadian companies, and you can contact us for assistance with this communication.

Advice to Assignment Managers

As at all times, you want your assignees to be able to travel to their assignment location with minimum stress and without interruptions. Planning and communication are key to achieving this. If you are clear on immigration requirements for your assignees and relay this information to them in a timely fashion, you can minimize the risk of hiccups in the roll-out of an international assignment.

Preferred Service Providers

At CompassGUIDES, we regularly coordinate with a number of local immigration service providers. For detailed information, you may wish to contact our preferred immigration service providers directly:

Veronica Choy, Miller Thomson LLP Barristers & Solicitors (403-298-2430)

Herman Van Reekhum, VRV Immigration Services (403-269-2224)

Michael Greene, Sherritt Greene, Barristers & Solicitors (403-298-0479)

Kevin Zemp, Bennett Jones LLP (403-298-3217)

In Summary

With any international assignment, it is important to get the right person to the right destination in the right frame of mind at the right cost, in order that the assignment be as productive and as stress-free as possible. Timely communication of the new cross-border travel requirements to assignees to the US can help to achieve this objective.

At CompassGUIDES ™ , we assist in the development of assignment documentation and preparation communication to keep international assignees informed their obligations and provide them with advice to ensure a smooth end positive assignment experience.

We also develop cost-effective assignment tax programs for Canadian companies sending employees around the world and bringing international consultant expertise to their Canadian projects. These Assignment Tax Programs provide detailed advanced tax planning, including policies, procedures and employment contracts, which serve to minimize costs and mitigate any risk of litigation.

Visit our International Assignment Planning Help Desk for more information about international assignment planning.

You can contact at CompassGUIDES with assignment planning concerns at 403-531-2200 .


Tel: (403) 531-2200 
Fax: (403) 263-1826

Suite 600, 1333 8th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta Canada  T2R 1M6

Tel: (403) 531-2200 
Fax: (403) 263-1826

Suite 600, 1333 8th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta Canada  T2R 1M6