Working with customs can be a daunting and time consuming process for shippers. All cross-border shippers need to understand that their freight is going to be handed over to federal agencies on each side of the border for a certain amount of time, in some cases 24 hours or more—a reality that can impact expected or promised delivery timetables. The United States and Mexico are both strict on imports but U.S. customs typically takes longer to clear than Mexico customs.

To make the process as painless as possible, companies should pay close attention to the required paperwork, file it at least 24 hours in advance, and make sure that all loads are properly documented. Some of the main documents required for any southbound shipment are the invoice, driver/pre-trip inspection report (FMCSA Regulation 396.13), driver vehicle/post-trip inspection report (FMCSA Regulation 396.11), bill of lading, packing list, shipper’s export declaration, import pedimento and NAFTA certificate of origin. These same documents are required for northbound shipments in addition to the export pedimento and the forms and processes for U.S. clearance.

Additional document requirements vary based on commodity type such as hazardous materials, ammunition, and agricultural products. The sooner a shipper can complete these steps and the more the shipper communicates with customs, the quicker this process will be. Ignore these steps and your load could be stopped at customs or at the customs broker for an undetermined amount of time.

It’s important that shippers choose a transportation provider that offers customs brokerage services to confirm that each load is processed efficiently. The carrier should have a good, long-standing relationship with the government and customs. This experience and knowledge will make the customs process as seamless as possible for the shipper. Plus, having a good record with these federal agencies and consistently communicating is beneficial when customer questions arise or there’s a regulatory change.

Landstar Advantage: Customs Brokerage

Landstar is a licensed customs broker with access to a worldwide network of international trade professionals who are well-versed in the local rules and regulations of import/export compliance. We have an excellent track record with government agencies. Our experts can manage the documentation preparation so shipments are cleared without unnecessary delay upon shipment entry. Landstar has the experience to find a solution to nearly any obstacle a shipper may face at the border.

Key Takeaway

Handing over a load of freight to a customs broker and/or meeting regulatory requirements of cross-border shipments can present unique challenges, but companies that do their homework and work with a reliable logistics provider can minimize potential issues.