US Customs Transponders changes

Introducing the Gen-2 Transponders for all CMV’s crossing the U.S. border

This fall has seen a big change come down the pike regarding how US custom transponders will work going forward. As of October 2019, all Gen-1 transponders will be replaced with New Generation-2 (Gen-2) transponders.

The goal is to have all commercial vehicles that conduct business through the Decal and Transponder Online Procurement System (DTOPS) to have a Gen-2 Transponder by the end of 2020.

These Gen-2 Transponders have a couple of plusses. First, they are part of a Non-Invasive Inspection (NII) initiative. This initiative allows for US Customs to monitor for illegal and contraband substances, without slowing down traffic and commerce.

Second, the Gen-2 Transponders are more cost efficient, secure, and will allow for additional changes in the future.

Do single crossings need to get a transponder? 

Even if you only purchase a single-crossing you will be issued a Gen-2 transponder.  Previously, single-crossing purchases did not need a transponder.

Going forward, upon paying a single-crossing fee, the driver will need to affix a Gen-2 Transponder to their windshield.  Even though you have the Gen-2 transponder fixed permanently, you will still need to purchase your single-crossing fee each time you plan to cross the border.

A word to the wise: if you cross the border at least 40 times in a year, it is cheaper to pay the Annual User Fee, rather than multiple single crossings.

So how do you get your new Gen-2 Transponder?

When your annual fees are paid through DTOPS, this will initiate the fulfillment of a Gen-2 transponder (unless the truck is already fitted with a Gen-2 Transponder).

So now everyone needs a transponder. How do transponders work?

A transponder, also known as a User Fee, is a sticker that is attached to a vehicle’s windshield. This sticker contains RFID technology (radiofrequency identification chip) which transmits information about a vehicle as well as the User Fee payment status.

The transponder stays on the vehicle for the life of the transponder which is up to 10 years. If the vehicle is sold, the transponder moves with the truck to the new owner, and the new owner will need to file a vehicle transfer with DTOPS.

When you pay your Annual User Fee, it is good up until December 31st of that year. When you renew your US Customs Transponder, you keep using the same sticker for its 10-year life span, you are not issued a new one.

How much does a US Customs Transponder cost?

A single crossing runs you $13.40 USD per vehicle each time you cross the border. Hence our tip above that purchasing a single crossing pass is only cost efficient if you make less than 40 crossings per year. And each subsequent purchase there after does not go towards an annual pass.

So, if you pay more than an annual pass in a year’s worth of crossings, too bad, so sad. Should have chosen an annual pass from the beginning.

An annual pass will cost you $406.84 USD and is good for the year. This is not prorated for the year. No matter what time of year you purchase, it will expire on December 31st of that year.

If you are purchasing later in the year it may make sense to buy single crossings (if you are going less than the 40 trips) until you can buy an annual pass for the coming year.

Using a service provider, like PSTC, to get your U.S. Customs transponder can help you decide to buy either an annual or single crossing. Friendly, knowledgeable staff can help advise you, and get you set up to make border crossings a breeze.

If you need more information about this change, you can read the notice on the DTOPS website.