Skip to content Logo

Trucker Resources For Easier Cross-Border Trips

Truck drivers are essential to international trade. Between Canada and the United States, there is over 40 billion dollars worth of goods transported each month. Trucking is not just about moving goods from one place to another, but also about getting them across borders in a seamless manner. To ensure smooth and efficient cross-border operations, it’s important that truck drivers have the right resources to make their trip easier, and increase efficiency.

truck driver help tips, shipping canada us cross border paps check pars check

Cross-Border Trucking Basics 

Any successful trip across the border begins with a good plan. Before you head out on the road towards the border, it is important to double check that your documents are with you, and that you know where you are going. You should ensure that your truck is ready to hit the road, so always secure the cargo correctly and do your inspections. Your entry point should be confirmed to customs via the ACE or ACI eManifest systems.

A part of any cross-border trip is getting prepared to answer questions about your load, origin and destination you are heading to. It is important to stay informed on any regulations that may affect you, including protocols. Avoid prohibited items like alcohol, weapons or certain restricted fruits, as each country has its own regulations on what can cross the border, and it’s not just limited to freight.

Researching regulation of the places you are heading into is key. For instance, if you are heading into British Columbia, Canada, then you may need to file an insurance certificate with the Minister of Insurance of BC. This may need to be kept in your permit book in order to present to RCMP or BC port of entry at your arrival. You will also need to pay in the currency of the country you are in at the time, so in Canada you would use CAD, while in the U.S. its USD currency. 

Required Cross-Border Documents

It's not just who you know, but also how you prepare your paperwork. There are a number of different documents to carry with you, outside of the shipment or freight paperwork. Your truck should have its safety and IFT stickers displayed, as well as carrying any certificates or permits for your transport, CVOR (Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration) and ownership documents.

Your own personal documents are just as important, if you are looking to cross the border. Before you head out, you will want to make sure you are carrying your personal identification which includes:

  • Drivers License
  • Passport
  • Proof of Insurance
  • I-94 Document and visa for recent immigrants, if you are heading into the U.S.

Your freight paperwork is essential in order to be able to cross the border toward your destination. Delays and customs holds are placed on goods most often due to either missing or incorrect documents. There needs to be a few documents present as you arrive at the border, including:

  • Bill of Lading
  • Customs Invoice
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Packing List
  • Cover Sheet
  • Additional Permits or Licenses
  • PARS/PAPS Stickers
  • SCAC Code (US)
  • Canada Highway Carrier Code 

While it is the importer or customs broker's role to take care of the necessary freight paperwork for a cross-border trip, it is also important to make sure you have documents you need with you. With technology, tracking has made it easier to anticipate any challenges and resolve them ahead of time, before the driver even arrives at the border. In case of any issue, you should be able to call the broker and get the issue resolved, while avoiding waiting too long at the border. 

Trucker Resources For An Easier Cross-Border Trip

Every day, thousands of truckers cross the Canada-U.S. border. In this fast-paced world, having the know-how to navigate each crossing successfully is a vital skill for truck drivers. Trucking across the border is not always an easy task.  To make sure you handle it like a pro, keep your eyes on border crossing tips, tools and resources from We've compiled a list of documents and information you will need to make your cross-border trip a success. 

Get PARS and PAPS Labels or Tracking

pars check paps check pars tracking paps tracking


With Zipments, you can check your PARS and PAPS status in real-time, and know whether you are cleared to cross before you even reach the border. The status allows you to see if the goods require added steps to address any issue, or if you will have a smooth clearance once you arrive.

pars tracker pars check paps tracker paps check

You can track status for any Canadian broker and over 25+ U.S. brokers, and you can track multiple brokers at once, on the same website. You can also set tags, make notes or share your PARS/PAPS status in one space.

Zipments offers affordable CBP and CBSA approved PARS or PAPS labels, all shipped within 1 business day. For emergency use, you can email support and get same-day use labels emailed to you.

same day emergency pars labels paps labels

Find Customs Broker Contact Info

If you find your customs clearance is taking too long and you are not sure who to contact, Zipments offers a Customs Broker Directory, which includes all contact information for U.S. and Canadian brokers, which can help with seamless communication, and other tools such as :

  • Broker Website
  • Broker security code or filer code
  • Google Map address to custom brokers office
  • Phone/Email/Fax number
  • Customs brokers agent used at each port
  • After Hours contact information

    customs brokers us and canada contact information find a customs broker

Get Your SCAC Code or Carrier Code 

If you plan on crossing into the United States, you will need to get your Standard Carrier Alpha (SCAC) Code. The code is used by Customs and Border Protection to identify carriers to customs. The code is also present on the PAPS sticker your shipment will need to cross the border. To apply for a SCAC code you can use the NMFTA Website. The code should be around $75 per year to remain active, and renewal would be around June each year. If you do not renew your SCAC code it can expire and be issued elsewhere. 

Crossing into Canada will require the Canada Highway Carrier Code, which also requires an application. The Carrier Code is issued within 3-4 weeks after application, and is needed for your PARS sticker. However, you do not have to renew or update the code unless there are changes to your business. To apply for a Carrier Code, you can use the Zipments  Carrier Code Application, which is easy to complete and ensures less risk of error. 

canada carrier code application

Follow Hours of Service (HOS) Regulation 

Whether you are heading into the U.S. or Canada, it is important to understand that HOS regulations are different between the two countries. In Canada, you are allowed 13 hours of driving, but you need to take 10 hours in total off -duty, during a 24 hour period that runs from midnight to midnight. In Canada, you only need to take 8 hours off-duty to restart your 13 hours driving, but the off-duty time needs to be in periods of 30 minutes or more. 

Canada allows 70 hours working time in 7 days, or 140 hours of working in 14 days. Restart for the 14 day rule is 72 hours, while the 7 day period would be 36 hours. Canada will place you out of service for log book errors, so you will want to avoid mistakes.  You also need pre-trip inspection and post-trip inspection reports for Canada, or you may be fined.  

To learn more about HOS between Canada and the U.S. read: "Trucking Rules (HOS): Canada vs. The United States

Find Crossing Addresses

You will want to consider the safest routes to take and areas that you know how to navigate, first, before you embark on unknown back roads or shortcuts. Consider avoiding toll roads not meant for trucks, as well. They are a lot of places you can cross the border, but not all of them will be commercial crossings. Some crossing into Canada also are permit crossings, so you will need to be certain of the port of entry you are heading to and let your customs broker know. 

port crossing trucking information

Zipments offers a vast database of all Canadian land border crossings, so that you can simply input where you are heading and get a Google Maps guide to your destination. This can be especially helpful to drivers heading into smaller cities or provinces in Canada.

The lifeblood of international trade, trucking is only as effective as the driver behind the wheel. Canada-U.S. border crossings are an important part of the international trade supply chain, but mastering them is no easy feat. Truckers who successfully navigate Canada-U.S. border crossings are key to international trade.  With Zipments, truckers can make international border crossings as quick and easy as possible. When you have access to the right resources, you are prepared to face any challenge that comes toward you, and get on with your day.