What are the Top 5 Mistakes in Cross-Border Shipping?


There are a few options available to a business when it decides to sell its goods abroad. You can decide to establish a warehouse there to keep your goods and ship them domestically. Alternately, you could ship your orders from the warehouse that is already there in your home country. Cross-border shipping is the term for the latter.

To start shipping cross-border there are a few things to have in consideration. Ton of paperwork, clearing customs is required, you may be using multiple providers, and you are dealing with two governments. Mistakes can be expensive in terms of time, money, and customer relationships.

Cutting corners is the best way to delay your shipment at the border, despite being a relatively simple thing to avoid. You should stay away from these 5 things whether you’re shipping across the U.S.-Mexico border or the one between Canada and the United States

1. Establishing a customs broker too slowly

The process of setting up your customs broker should take two weeks, even though you might be able to finish it in as little as five business days. You don’t want to rush this.

They’ll be representing your company at the border, so they need to be familiar with your shipping procedure and shipper and carrier since you’ve given them power of attorney.

Rushing the procedure increases your chance of experiencing expensive border delays.

2. Documentation

Even friendly neighbors like the United States and Canada have high standards when it comes to documentation for cross-border shipments.

  • A Bill of Lading that details the goods being shipped, their weight and size, and their contact details.
  • The Bill of Lading must be accompanied by a Commercial Invoice that includes thorough shipment information.
  • For shipments coming into Canada, a Canada Customs Invoice (CI1)
  • For compliance with NAFTA regulations, a Certificate of Origin.
  • To confirm the shipment was received as expected a signed Proof of Delivery is required.

The BOL and commercial invoice information must be identical in both of these documents. It’s likely that your shipment won’t be able to clear customs until the issue is resolved if the shipment’s dimensions, product count, etc. do not match exactly.


3. Shipping before you’re in 100% alignment with the customs broker

If you have not gotten in total alignment with your customs broker and decide to ship your freight, you might have issues with missing or incorrect paperwork. In addition, you will need to research the laws, taxes, local currency, payment options, and duties of those areas; and possibly find a third-party logistics (3PL) partner specializing in those regions.

Pro tips for cross-border shipping:

For Canada-U.S. Cross-Border

  • A customs broker is required on the side of the border you are sending your cargo to.
  • A U.S. customs broker is required if you are in Canada and exporting to the United States.
  • You require a Canadian customs broker if you are in the United States and exporting to Canada.

For Mexico-U.S. Cross-Border

  • On both sides of the border, you will require a customs broker.
  • The majority of cross-border customs brokers operate in both Mexico and the United States, similar to how they do in Canada, so you’ll probably only need to work with one company to handle your shipment’s entire journey.

Enjoy seamless cross-border shipping

Book a free consultation with a Fr8App cross-border Expert and optimize your results today.


4. The availability of an after-hours contact information.

Despite your best efforts to plan ahead, unexpected events occasionally occur with cross-border shipments. When mistakes do happen, you need immediate access to experts who can fix them, even on the weekends and after hours.

Border delays can be costly, so if your shipment is delayed on Friday night, you don’t want to put off taking care of it until Monday.

A cross-border best practice is to have the contact information for your transportation company, importer of record, shipper, and customs broker available outside of regular business hours.


5. Lack of Freight Insurance

A cross-border shipment can be ruined by a variety of issues, including a tipped over truck, theft, accidents, and natural disasters.

Shippers should be aware of any gaps in their insurance for cross-border shipping in addition to customs paperwork. Regarding carrier liability, each nation has its own standards and ceilings. This is particularly problematic for shippers who export goods to Mexico, where carriers are only responsible for $0.025 per pound of cargo moved. Cross-border insurance is a service that shippers can get to ensure that their cargo is protected in all scenarios.


We at Fr8App are dedicated to supporting your supply chain and optimizing freight spend year-round, so if you need help with cross-border shipping services across North America, get in touch with our team today.

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