Canadian business travellers frustrated by the ritual of fumbling for a pen to fill out their declaration cards one hour before their plane lands might be surprised to learn they have a paperless option.

Since March, Canadians have been able to download beta versions (on both iOS and Android) of the eDeclaration app, an official release from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The app – which, once downloaded, operates entirely in airplane mode – effectively swaps the CBSA’s familiar paper declaration cards for a traveller’s mobile device by inviting users to complete an electronic version of the usual declaration questionnaire (below).

Courtesy CBSA
Courtesy CBSA

After verifying that users are, in fact, not bringing firearms or food into Canada, the app provides users with a QR code ready for scanning at an electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk, allowing them to bypass the awkward experience of filling out, holding onto, and later inserting a physical sheet of paper into a machine.

To ensure users’ privacy and security, only non-sensitive information is stored on the app, with accounts based on a nickname rather than, say, passport data. Instead, the user’s electronic declaration is attached to their name when the kiosk scans their travel document.

According to the CBSA, which is still accepting feedback on the app, using eDeclaration can reduce travellers’ processing time at a kiosk by up to 50 per cent.

Users without mobile devices, meanwhile, are invited to use the kiosks to complete an on-screen declaration upon their arrival.

This story is brought to you by the author’s most recent trip to Las Vegas, in which he was not presented with a physical declaration card one hour before landing and was encouraged to use the app instead.



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