The North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States has been a key incentive for businesses on both sides of the 49th parallel to explore sales and cost-saving opportunities.
However, like many countries, Canada has a complex set of rules and processes that must be followed in order for goods to enter the country seamlessly. For U.S. exporters with limited experience shipping to Canada, bringing goods across Canada’s border can be challenging and could result in delays for shipments that aren’t compliant with NAFTA and/or Canada’s general import process guidelines. That’s why it’s critical for American exporters to find the right carrier to bring their goods into Canada.
Working with a freight forwarder can help simplify the process and ensure you find the right carrier to transport your goods safely and expediently to Canada.
Here are five critical questions U.S. shippers should be asking their carriers to ensure their shipments to Canada aren’t delayed.
1. Are your drivers, terminal personnel, dispatchers, and traffic managers involved in trans-border shipments aware of the Transportation of Goods Regulations?
These regulations are complicated and constantly changing. A solid understanding of how they affect your shipment will help ensure your goods make it into Canada without issue.
2. Are you aware of the documents required for international shipments?
Your carrier must be able to ensure that drivers know what documents need to be presented to Customs officers at the border. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has specific requirements as to which forms must be submitted, and when. A carrier is responsible for some of these documents and, therefore, must be knowledgeable about the requirements.
3. Are you aware of the CBSA’s Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS)?
The Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) is a tool developed by the CBSA that allows for release information to be processed before goods arrive at the border. This can significantly speed up the clearance of goods – reducing the wait time to minutes. If your carrier is unaware of PARS, it could lead to unnecessary delays.
4. Do you have a record in good standing with the CBSA?
Carriers with a strong history of compliance with the CBSA will have less difficulty crossing the border with your goods.
5. Are your drivers registered under the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program with the CBSA?
FAST is a program set up after 9/11 that gives priority to registered secure carriers. FAST-registered drivers enjoy expedited processing of goods, access to dedicated lanes, a reduced number of inspections, and enhanced supply chain security. They have completed background checks and fulfill certain eligibility requirements. Having a carrier whose driver is registered with FAST will allow your goods to get where they need to be faster.
If you’re not satisfied with your carrier’s response to these questions, you might consider hiring a freight forwarder to help identify a carrier that can effectively answer all these questions in the affirmative and support a seamless cross-border trade process.