If you’re a heavy hauler in North America, there are international and region-specific standards you need to abide by to cross state, provincial, and federal borders. Furthermore, there are specific guidelines set by Customs Border Protection (CBP) and Canada’s National Border Services Agency (CBSA) for the customs clearance of commercial goods moving across borders. As long as these standards and guidelines are upheld, it will allow for the smooth movement of commercial goods between Canada and the United States. However, one hiccup in the process could cause delays and increase costs so it is important that each party is on board to make this process as simple as possible.
Whether you are planning on buying an excavator from a Ritchie Bros Auction north of the border or you are planning on sourcing a CNC press machine from Michigan for your production plant in Ontario, there are a few things that are often forgotten when it comes to creating a customs clearance:
This refers to the set of documents that are required to clear the actual piece of cargo that is moving across the border. In most cases, a bill of lading with a description of the load (piece count, commodity, weight, etc.) and a commercial invoice (stating the value of goods moving across the border in the currency denomination of the destination country) will suffice as for paperwork. There are exceptions for self-propelled, motorized vehicles.
This is the party that coordinates the process of declaring the goods to the respective customs agency and ensures that the cargo is cleared to cross before the driver arrives at the border. They also can inform you and pay any tariffs or taxes required to get certain goods across the border. It will be important when structuring a deal to purchase or sell equipment that will be moving cross border that there will be a consideration as to which party will be arranging the customs clearance and all the costs associated.
A lot of equipment that is transported by flatbed trucking companies will include self-propelled vehicles (cars, trucks, excavators, wheel loads, combines, etc.). When this equipment is moving from Canada to the United States, there will be a requirement by CBP to include an EPA form along with the customs documents. This form states the year and makes of the engine and it ensures that it is going to be compliant with emissions regulations in the United States. When purchasing used self-propelled equipment from the United States, it will need to undergo a 72 hour AES preclearance before it enters Canada. This allows CBP to undergo a small investigation to trace the ownership of the motorized equipment to ensure the title is free and clear before it gets exported.
Canada and the United States have provincial/state and federal requirements that must be met before a company, driver and/or a shipment are even let into the country. In the United States, this process begins with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) where every new carrier must apply for a US DOT and MC number. Once they are granted these numbers, there are several steps each carrier must take each year to renew these numbers to remain classified as an active carrier within the Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMSCA).
Flatbed trucking companies looking to cross the border must then obtain a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) by registering with the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. This is a unique four-letter code that is used by CPB and CBSA to identify carriers when crossing the international border between the United States and Canada.
Furthermore, In the United States, you must comply with the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) electronic manifest program. It’s a digital security and commercial protocol provided by the US Customs and Border Protection, that you fill out before crossing the border.
Once transport freight companies have followed the aforementioned steps, they will be able to move freight for their customers across borders as long as they follow the driver has the right credentials to enter that country and the right procedures at the border to obtain commercial clearance.
Next time you are planning on moving your oversized equipment across the border, feel free to contact us at Vectra Heavy Haulers where we would be happy to answer any of your questions and provide a free quote for cross-border transportation.