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Essential Documents Needed While Shipping Freight from Canada to the US

“Papers please!” Those two words are at the heart of the international movement of goods between Canada and the US. While the two countries are renowned trade partners, there are still documents required to ensure smooth freight shipping from the US to Canada and freight shipping from Canada to the US.

Know Your Documents to Ensure Quick Cross-Border Shipping

These are not typical days for shipping back and forth across the US/Canada border. The movement of goods is primarily related to “essential” items. That said, in normal times nearly $700 billion worth of goods gets shipped between the two countries every year. To facilitate that transaction – and to ensure shipping is in compliance with each country’s regulations government the movement of goods – there are documents that need to be presented to help avoid delays and red tape at the border. They include the following:

  • Bill of Landing (BOL). This is a critical piece of information for freight shipping companies. The BOL is an accurate list of the goods that are being included in the shipment. It is relevant to the shipper, the truck driver and the ultimate consignee. It should also list the size and weight and contact information. To paraphrase the credit care commercials, “don’t leave home without it.”
  • The Proof of Delivery (POD). This is the receipt portion of the BOL which shows that the goods have been received, signed for and were found to be in good order. Whoever signs confirms the date and time the goods were delivered. This is an important confirmation of delivery should there be some discrepancy over delivery.
  • Commercial Invoice (for shipping from Canada to the USA). This document shows the full description of the goods being shipping along with their value. A copy of the commercial invoice should go with the BOL, while the other copy in kept with the freight heading into the USA.
  • Canada Customs Invoice (for shipping from the US into Canada). Each company has its own documents. The Canada Customs Invoice goes with the freight from the location at which it was picked up to where it ultimately clears customs. The second copy is attached with the BOL.
  • Certificate of Origin. This is the document that provides details on where the shipment originated. This also helps in the collection of custom duties required to comply with NAFTA regulations.

Understanding the Nuances of Cross Border Shipping

Canada and the US are very different countries. As shipping companies in Toronto know, cross-border shipping regulations are often in flux, complicated by the state of the trade deals between the countries and often muddied by politics, tariffs and other restrictive measures. Using a 3PL company like NATS Canada can help you avoid red tape and mistakes that can hold up vital shipments. Specific shipments often have specific rules; “essential” items may flow across the border faster than general consumer goods. NATS Canada can help simplify the entire process.

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