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There’s a staggering amount of freight being transported cross-borders, and a vast number of it is being hauled by truck. This has become the standard for cross-border cargo transport, allowing many companies to thrive by providing these services. 

Even though there’s a lot of freight to be transported, it’s critical to understand how the industry works and the specific elements companies must consider when delivering their goods cross-borders without hiccups along the way. 

This type of transportation requires companies to take care of any paperwork, consider some special requirements and security clearances. Therefore, it’s essential to count on a transportation partner to ensure all these elements are considered.   

What is cross-border cargo transport? 

As its name suggests, cross-border cargo transport refers to the transportation of goods across geographical borders. It entails a lot of planning and the support of a logistics company with years of experience in this type of transportation.  

What to consider for cross-border cargo transport? 

There are many moving parts within the entire cross-border transportation process, here are just a few to get you started: 

  • Bilingual staff working 24/7.  

One of the most critical elements in any transportation process is maintaining good communication. Therefore, having a bilingual staff is vital. This will allow your team to communicate efficiently with drivers and help the process run smoother.  

When transporting goods through long distances, it’s critical to maintain constant communication to know what’s happening with the freight and if there are any issues along the way. 

  • Understand the restrictions for your specific shipment. 

There are many types of goods that need to be transported, and you must be aware of the various restrictions each of them may entail.  

For example, when shipping to Canada, it’s crucial to understand the regulations of each government. It’s critical to know that there’s a list of restricted or prohibited items from entering the country.  

Here are some categories of items that could be restricted for shipping to Canada: 

  • Plants, seeds, and forestry products. 
  • Drug and health products 
  • Vehicles and automotive products. 
  • Textiles and clothing. 
  • Firearms, weapons, and military goods. 

If the shipment you’re transporting belongs to any of these categories, make sure to check out the Canadian government website to know what specific documentation you’ll require. 

  • Documentation. 

The CBP and CBSA are agencies that take care of knowing what enters the U.S. and Canada. And the only way for them to track everything is with documentation. Therefore, you must have all the required documents for your shipment to cross borders without any issues. 

If your drivers have incorrect documentation or are missing something, they will have to stay at the border until everything is resolved. This will set you back a couple of hours, and you’ll not be able to meet your scheduled delivery time, which can lead to fees and, ultimately, a bad customer experience. 

Here are 5 documents you need for cross-border cargo transport

  1. Bill of Lading (BOL):This certificate describes the goods that are being shipped. The BOL must contain the address where the goods will be picked up, size, weight, and the shipper’s contact information.   
  2. Certificate of origin: As its name suggests, it describes the location where the freight originated from. This document is critical since customs duties are calculated, and it provides the required information to check if the cargo classifies for preferential tariff treatment.  
  3. Commercial invoice:This document will enable you to get paid, and it also helps in the clearance process since it includes relevant information such as vendor’s contact information, consignee’s information, detailed information of each item, terms of delivery and payment, dates, reference numbers, freight insurance, and others. Keep in mind, for shipping to Canada, this document is known as Canada Customs Invoice. 
  4. Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED):To determine if your freight will require this document, you must check the commerce control list which the Bureau of Export Administration provides.  
  5. NAFTA Certificate of Origin:Depending on where your goods are produced, you’ll be eligible for preferential tariff treatment. But to access this benefit, you must prove the origin of the good with a NAFTA certificate of origin. 
  • Consider hiring a customs broker. 

Many may think it’s better to take care of everything in-house since you’ll have all the information required on hand and immediately. But when it comes to cross-border cargo transport, there are many factors to consider that you usually do not—aspects like taxes, customs, and other more legal elements of the equation surface.  

Hence, a customs broker becomes a wise option since they are experts in this field and will take full responsibility for this part of the process. 

What is a customs broker? 

A customs broker facilitates the shipment and delivery of goods across borders. They work as a facilitator between your business and the customs agencies.  

What are customs brokers responsible for? 

Customs brokers have many responsibilities, here are just a few: 

  • Letting you know the specific documentation you’ll require for your shipment.  
  • Delivering all the documents and forms to the customs agency. 
  • Making sure payments are taken care of (duties, taxes, and fees). 
  • Keeping the records of all the payments.  
  • Responding to any issues with payments. 

An important aspect to consider when hiring customs brokers is their experience. They must be experienced in the specific freight you must transport. Many different regulations depend on what you’re actually transporting; therefore, the customs broker must know and understand the particular requirements for your specific freight.  


With these four aspects in mind, you’re well on your way to a smooth cross-border transportation process. Keep in mind there are many things to consider during this process; therefore, you must hire companies experienced in this specific field and give you peace of mind, avoiding any delays and additional fees with their expertise.