It’s been famously stated time and time again that nobody is perfect. People can, and will, make mistakes in their day-to-day lives, and the shipping world is no exception. We even wrote an entire blog about shipping mistakes not long ago.
As with other aspects of shipping, additional considerations come into play the moment we start to discuss non-domestic options. The prospect of shipping goods cross-border brings with it a wholly unique list of variables which, in turn, can potentially mean more mistakes. And while we have established that mistakes happen, some mistakes carry consequences that would make them best avoided at all costs.
With that said, this week on the blog we’ll be looking at three of the biggest mistakes you could make when shipping cross-border, what they can mean for your shipment, and how to make sure you never have to worry about them.
Mistake 1: Your Documentation is Incomplete or Incorrect
As we have discussed in the past, proper documentation is the backbone of the shipping journey, no matter what you are shipping or where you are shipping to. For instance, simply mailing a letter from Toronto to Montreal requires documentation in the form of the destination and return addresses; information that is as vital to a successful journey as any amount of customs information required to ship a pallet from Vancouver to Seattle.
The key difference between these two examples is not importance, but volume and complexity. Due to the complex nature of cross-border pallet shipping, the required documentation is itself more complex and all information must be complete and accurate in order for the shipment to be completed successfully.
Further, just as the complexity and scope of documentation grows in relation to the shipment, so too do the consequences of incomplete or incorrect documentation. Undeliverable pallet shipments may, in the best-case scenario, be denied pickup by a carrier, and at worst could be held indefinitely at the border. No matter the degree of consequences, this will mean hefty chargebacks, wasted time, and undelivered goods.
Due to the complex nature of cross-border pallet shipping, the required documentation is itself more complex.
The trick to avoiding this particular mistake is two-fold. Firstly, it is vital to know what documents are required to successfully ship goods cross-border. These include a shipping label, certificate of origin, bill of lading, and commercial invoice. Each of these documents play a distinct role in communicating important information about your shipment to the carriers, border services, and recipient. These documents and the roles they play are outlined in our blog post centred around how to ship your pallets cross-border.
In understanding which documents are required for cross-border shipments, the second part to avoiding mistakes with your documentation should be simple: ensuring that all information on these documents is complete and accurate.
Best practice for this is to simply be diligent when filling out each piece of documentation, remember that more information leads to less confusion, and of course review all information at least once before you finalize anything.
Mistake 2: Your Carrier is Not Certified for Cross-Border Shipping
There is certainly no shortage of freight carriers available to offer Canadian businesses a wide array of shipping services. It can be overwhelming for a shipper to make an educated decision and choose a carrier that fits their needs while still trying to maintain a low operational overhead. Without the right education or diligence, it’s entirely possible that the carrier that you use can cause more problems than they solve.
This becomes especially important once we move into cross-border shipping. As important as it is to ensure that your goods are certified to enter another country, it is equally important to ensure that the carrier you are using also has the proper certifications for cross-border travel.
To start, it is important to note that, per US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations, any international carrier entering the US must have an International Carrier Bond on file. In short, this means that the carrier is able to move freight across the border to an authorized location without a customs release.
Secondly, it is beneficial when choosing a cross-border carrier to seek out one who is certified under the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program or the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program in conjunction with the CBP. These certifications denote that a carrier has been vetted by the CBP and deemed a trusted, low-risk carrier, which leads to a faster, less restrictive border crossing.
While these certifications are not explicitly required for carriers travelling into the US, they can greatly expedite the border-crossing process, and serve as a means of highlighting a carrier’s trustworthiness and reliability.
Mistake 3: You Aren’t Using a Customs Broker
It is entirely understandable that a seasoned domestic shipper may feel that they don’t need any assistance when booking cross-border shipments. However, the fact of the matter is, as shown above, cross-border shipping can be a far more complicated affair than domestic shipping, with potentially very costly ramifications.
This is why enlisting the help of a trusted customs broker is vital to the cross-border shipping process.
While it is certainly encouraged that a shipper be educated on matters such as duties, export regulations, and other such cross-border shipping requirements, a reputable customs broker is an expert in this field. In using a customs broker, a shipper can gain better insight into the cross-border shipping process. In having the broker communicate with the necessary government agencies on your behalf, you can ensure that every step of the journey is fully compliant, and that the entire process is as smooth as possible.
Make No Mistake: Freightcom Helps You Ship Smarter
Hopefully we’ve helped steer you clear of potentially making some big mistakes with your cross-border shipping, but it’s worth mentioning that not using Freightcom to help with all your shipping needs might be the biggest mistake you should avoid.
Our all-in-one platform provides discounted real-time rates on domestic and cross-border LTL shipping, and domestic, cross-border, and international parcel shipping through North America’s most trusted carriers. We help streamline your entire shipping process for less, and all with zero start up or monthly fees!
Contact one of our shipping experts and see how Freightcom may just be the best decision you could make for your shipping.