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How to Optimize the Cross-Border Process

Getting goods across the border can be a hassle, especially if you’re flying blind. It takes a lot of time to prepare a shipment for transport, but the border crossing process does not have to be as challenging. Carriers who transport commercial goods across the border know too well how frustrating customs clearance can be, but it is mandatory. However, there are ways to ensure delays do not happen, and that shipments cross the border in a timely manner. Shipping is a numbers game, so here are four ways you can optimize the cross-border transport process! cross border transport usa and canada us border crossing tips optimize the process

Using Technology To Streamline the Process

Applying technology to make shipping and transport more efficient, is the key to saving time and money when it comes to cross-border. Technological platforms allow for more visibility of the shipment and less time spent doing certain tedious administrative tasks. At the same time, we can see how the use of online platforms can also provide drivers more autonomy and chance to know what they are heading into, before they arrive at the border. Using a platform like, shippers are able to generate necessary border crossing documents, including customs invoices and bill of lading, while drivers are able to track the PARS/PAPS and see if they are cleared to cross before they arrive at the border, minimizing delays and the potential of arriving with missing documents. 

Technology is also streamlining the communication process, as using a platform like this allows you to automatically send the forms or data to the broker or shipper, depending on need. The automation process allows for quicker document turnaround with less room for error, since the technology in place does most of the work. Shippers can also use TMS (Transportation Management Systems) to allow for more visibility across the supply chain, while reducing the time it takes for data entry tasks.

The key way shippers can speed up cross-border transport is to digitize documents and create electronic records of all the necessary paperwork. Digital records can benefit both the shipper and carrier in multiple ways, including:

  • Decreasing the risk of needing to undergo inspection or having customs documents manually re-checked due to error, as using technology to generate forms and documents ensures more accuracy.
  • Compliance costs are reduced, because most documents will tend to follow regulations even if regulations change.
  • Pre-arrival submissions speed up inspections and border release, as documents can be checked and assessed before the driver has even arrived. 

Smart Warehousing

Using strategically located warehouses can save time and money in shipping. Having warehouses near borders allows for shipments to travel less and makes for an easier border transfer, while limiting any potential delays. Getting stuck at the border for inspection or checks can limit the amount of times a driver may be able to cross, whereas having warehouses near a border can allow for multiple trips per day. Shorter trips can also be more appealing to drivers, as they are able to decrease their time on the road or dedicate their time to one specific area they are familiar with, which comes in handy with unpredictable weather changes. 

Prioritize Driver Input

Drivers are an essential part in freight transport, and we have most recently even seen evidence of this with the port congestion occurring in California this Summer due to the protests of AB5. It is essential to include the driver as a priority in discussions on cross-border transport. The most essential component to cross-border transport is the truck driver, so their input on what they need to speed up and simplify the process is important. 

It is not enough to incentivize new hires, companies also must make the drivers feel like a valued part of the company. Using technology to give drivers visibility over their transit and border status, ensures they are involved in the process. Improving onboarding processes, and including any relevant safety bonuses or benefits for drivers will also go a long way in ensuring quality of the employment. Paying truckers benefits or paying extra for drivers who help load or unload the freight, as well as using technology to provide them with more control, may appeal more to these essential drivers. 

Prepare Carriers to Understand Customs Process

One of the major reasons for delays at the border are as a result of improper paperwork or missing documents. Many carriers do not have staff who are trained in handling customs paperwork or the process, so often the driver is sent to the border with missing documents or lack of understanding of what they need. Customs brokers unfortunately can take hours to set up customs clearance and sometimes the shipper and broker can have miscommunication or delays.  Unfortunately, customers do not pay for border delays unless it becomes a layover/deadhead, which means the driver and freight may end up sitting for free or the driver may deadhead the freight to the nearest city or town by the border. A lot of potential for waste of time and money occurs here.

It is important to understand the basics of border clearance:

  • Paperwork: The required documents will be asked for upon arrival at the border, meaning the BOL, manifest and invoice have to be ready and properly filled out. The documents serve as identification for the driver, truck and shipment itself, and they need to be carefully filled out.
  • Duties/Fees/Taxes: No shipment is cleared without proper duties or taxes being paid for. If a carrier is bonded, usually they can take the shipment beyond the port of entry, but any other delays in payment will likely result in a delay in clearing the shipment.
  • Releasing the Cargo: Once the shipment is verified via documents and the fees are paid for, the shipment is released at the border and can go to its destination. It is essential to have steps 1 and 2 complete, for this process to take place.

It is important that drivers know what their shipment is,  and ensure they have the paperwork with them. Carriers can also ensure that they are connected to brokerages, either by using Zipments broker directory to find the contact information of nearby brokers, or have connections of their own which will allow them to keep on top of the shipment process. They can also automate or digitize a lot of the cross-border process, so there is greater visibility along the way. 

With the advancement of technology, is one of the first online platforms which allows drivers and shippers to streamline communication and improve the cross-border process. There are many ways the process is improved through the platform, including: 

  • AI technology to automatically generate tariffs
  • PARS/PAPS real time tracking and rapid label delivery 
  • Emergency PARS/PAPS labels emailed for instant use 
  • Accurate and CBP/CBSA approved form generators, including BOL, Customs Invoices and Carrier Code applications


Trying to keep up with all the changes and regulations is tough, especially when border crossing can feel like a game of timing. Customs clearance may be a frustrating process where mistakes are costly, but it does ensure safety for those involved. Crossing the border requires patience, but it doesn't mean you can't speed up the process. It’s important to always be on the lookout for anything that can streamline the process. Technology is making the steps easier, but each shipper and carrier is different, so now it’s just a matter of adapting and finding a system that works for you. 

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