Cross-Border Shipping

Do you have products shipped from the United States into Canada? There are some possible pitfalls and complications you should be aware of. I talked to Keith Alton of White Rock Courier, who offers this advice:

It’s really easy as 1, 2, 3.

1.  Be prepared by taking the time to establish the necessary infrastructure of setting up accounts with a reliable Canadian Customs Broker, a safe and secure warehouse close to the border and a secure and reliable transportation company that can efficiently handle short hops across the border.

a) You don’t want to be in a position where you have a shipment stuck at the border waiting to cross into Canada and not have an established rapport and account with a Canadian Customs Broker.  Being unprepared at this point is not only extremely time consuming it can also become very expensive very quickly.

b) Establishing a safe and secure warehouse or “Ship to” location near the border can usually be accomplished through either your Canadian Custom Broker or your local Canadian cross border carrier.

c) In selecting your carrier for your short hops across the border make certain that they do handle short hops.  If your shipment coming to you in the Lower Mainland is sitting in Blaine, Washington, most major carriers will send it to Seattle or in some cases as far south as Portland, Oregon. For Canadian-bound shipments, this sort of handling is time consuming and expensive.  You are seeking a carrier that can pickup your shipment in Blaine and bring it up to you in Canada without sending it on the scenic tour.

2.  Many U.S. vendors will offer to send your shipment “FREE” anywhere in the U.S., but will charge a small ransom to ship directly into Canada.  This is where you have taken the time to establish a “Ship to” address in the U.S. close to the border, and this is where your rapport with your Canadian carrier or Canadian Customs broker is priceless.  The U.S. receiving location will advise you, your carrier and your customs broker that your shipment has arrived at their facility.  Your carrier and customs broker need to work together to get your shipment prepared for presentation to Canada Customs, cleared through the border for the final delivery to you, or forwarded to your clients directly.  Occasionally there are misunderstandings between some carriers and customs brokers which can cause a shipment to be delayed for several days or even weeks.  A delay at the border may cause the loss of a sale and occasionally the loss of a client so it is very important to choose a carrier and a customs broker that are both well respected in both industries.

3. Once your shipment is Canada Customs cleared and across the border you need a carrier that can handle your delivery requirements on your time schedule.  Some carriers may hold your shipment for several days before they send it out for delivery while some carriers may have it delivered to you or your client the same day it clears Canada Customs.  Some business do wish to have their shipments held while others prefer a prompt delivery, it is important to work with a carrier that is willing to work with you and your clients.

The key is being prepared by establishing accounts with carriers and Customs Brokers well before shipments start arriving.

As a designer and print broker, I can appreciate the economies of using a professional with the appropriate connections and facilities in place. You can always do it yourself, but it can be time consuming with a steep (and often expensive) learning curve. Keith’s company, White Rock Courier, is a company that specializes in handling short-hop cross-border shipments for their clients. If you don’t have an established account with a Canadian Customs broker give him a call and they’ll give you some suggestions on which brokers may best handle your products. For more information and for contact information, visit their website at  www.whiterockcourier.com

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