Supply Chain Mistakes & Best Practices Crossing the Canadian Border

In global supply chain management that spans across North America, shipments and carriers constantly have to cross borders in and out of multiple ports. Border crossing might seem like a complicated task, but it can go smoothly as long as the rules are followed and the paperwork is prepared correctly.

In this blog, for the better understanding of border crossing, we will discuss the process of border crossing in and out of Canada, required documents, common mistakes, and some best practices. 

To Be Cleared to Cross the Border

The appropriate team member or personnel will apply a unique barcode (PAPS/PARS) to the customs documents for processing. The customs team will process the paperwork, send to the appropriate customs broker, and enter all of the customs document information into the designated portal. Then, the customs team will print either an eManifest Leadsheet (when crossing into Canada) or an ACE Manifest (when crossing into the US from Canada), with which the driver will cross the border.

The customs team checks with the appropriate customs brokers to make sure all shipments on the eManifest Leadsheet or ACE Manifest are clear with the US customs or Canadian customs to cross the border. Once the shipments have been cleared, the entry and transaction numbers are added onto the eManifest/ACE Manifest. The ACE Manifest/eManifest is sent to the driver at the designated place and the driver will be notified that he or she is cleared to cross the border.

Required Documents

  • The driver must have a valid ID such as a FAST card, Enhanced Driver’s License, or valid CDL with a passport. If the driver has a passenger, the passenger must have a passport and a government-issued ID.
  • When crossing into Canada, the driver must produce an eManifest Leadsheet to the Canadian customs officer in the first booth at the Canadian/US border.
  • When crossing into the US, the driver must produce an ACE Manifest to the US customs officer in the first booth at the Canadian/US border.
  • Invoice (Commercial Invoice, Customs invoice, or a Proforma Invoice – the Shipper determines this.)
  • BOL (Bill of Lading)
  • Mill Certifications for shipments with certain Tariff codes coming out of Canada
  • Packing slips if available
  • Certificate of Origin if available

The documents must contain the following information:

  1. Gross weight with a correct unit of measure
  2. Piece/skid count
  3. Dollar value with a correct unit of currency
  4. Description of freight
  5. Country of Origin
  6. Where freight is being shipped from
  7. Where freight is being shipped to
  8. Who is paying the duties/broker fees on the shipment

Common Mistakes Carriers Make in the Process of Border Crossing 

  • The appropriate team member or personnel fails to send complete documents to the proper customs broker in a timely manner.
  • The customs team fails to follow up with appropriate customs broker after two hours of sending documents (most brokers require two to four hours to clear a shipment).
  • The customs team fails to accurately enter the information into the appropriate portal.
  • The customs team fails to enter specific description and information of freight into the portal.
  • The driver does not have a good knowledge of the shipment he or she is transporting.
  • The driver is sent to the border before he or she is clear to cross.
  • The driver fails to provide the appropriate documents for crossing.
  • The driver fails to seal the trailer.

Tips and Best Practices

  • Make sure your logistics provider belongs to a security program such as CTPAT (Customs Trade Partners Against Terrorism) US or PIP (Partners in Protection) Canada.
  • Make sure truck drivers are trained on border crossings and security programs (if any).
  • Always have drivers complete inspections before crossing the border.
  • Sign up for the CBSA and CBP e-mail updates in case of border or portal delays or issues.
  • Make sure that your business partners are in a security program or meet the security criteria.
  • Have drivers use high-security seals on his/her trailer.
  • Know your customs brokers.
  • Know how to contact US/Canadian customs.
  • Know the relevant laws of Canada.
  • Be courteous to the customs officer.