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How Some U.S. Companies Fail at Canadian Shipping

Posted by Joanne Laurendeau on January 13, 2016 - 3:29 PM
Canada mountains and highway

Canadian Shipping

Logistics is essential to international distribution. Unfortunately, many of the U.S. businesses that want to dominate the North American shipping arena still haven't figured out how to keep their goods flowing into Canada consistently.

Here are four of the big factors that businesses commonly overlook in their quests to extend their domains.

  1. Missing Carrier Certifications

To pass Canadian customs quickly, carriers are required to have a trio of important certifications: Customs Self Assessment (CSA), Free and Secure Trade (FAST) and Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). Without these, it's a safe bet that shipments will waste valuable time idling at customs. 

CSA, FAST and C-TPAT credentials ensure carriers comply with important rules on international border security and trade. They also open up dedicated travel lanes and reduce the frequency of inspections for those in good standing.

  1. Forgetting About Freight Compliance

Customs agents don't simply take certified shipping companies at their word when it comes to the legality of their freight. Carriers need to maintain a number of authenticated documents, including bills of lading and NAFTA Certificate of Origin paperwork for goods that were manufactured in North American countries. Loads that lack any of the required documents are almost guaranteed to get tangled up in time-wasting inspections and investigations.

Depending on the value of the goods they carry, carriers may also require Commercial Invoices or Canadian Customs Invoices. Whereas carrier credentials like CSA help verify the integrity of the shipper itself, these freight documents verify what they carry.

  1. Thinking They're Better Off Without Brokerage

International importers and exporters often wonder whether they need brokerage services to help them get through customs, but for Canada-bound freight, the answer is a resounding yes. Although most are certainly capable of handling their own paperwork, the time and money they spend doing so undeniably detracts from their ability to attend to other tasks.

In addition to handling routine documentation, customs brokers stay abreast of new developments in freight law and border regulations. This means they're uniquely positioned to help businesses remain compliant regardless of how rules, taxes or duties change.

  1. Resting on Past Successes

Compliance isn't some unchanging constant, and complacency is disastrous. As time goes on, the United States and Canada adopt new rules, and due to the typically obscure nature of most legislation, customs laws are usually open to interpretation. No matter which border crossing a shipment is destined for, it's almost certain that the changing guidelines will impact it throughout its entire lifetime.

While there's nothing stopping carriers from consulting primary documents, such as U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 19, such legislation is difficult to decipher, and mistakes are costly. In addition to throwing timetables off track, errors may result in companies having to pay fines or deal with increased regulatory scrutiny. Shippers that fail at basic compliance lose time and money on their current shipments, and their reputations also suffer enough to potentially compromise their future dealings.

Compliance is a constant battle, and carriers that want to cross the border freely must ensure they're always ready to improve.

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