Do-It-Yourself Customs Consulting Guide

Learn How To Cross Commercially Into the U.S. and Canada as a Highway Carrier

What are the steps I need to complete to start crossing into Canada as U.S. based highway carrier?

To cross into Canada commercially as a U.S. based trucking company or owner-operator, you must first operate under your own authority in the U.S. and be registered as commercial vehicle operator with either a US DOT or Motor Carrier (MC) identifier. If you have not registered for a US DOT or Motor Carrier Number, please click here for instructions on how to do so.

If the carrier or owner-operator does have a valid US DOT or Motor Carrier number, the next step is to get your authority to cross into Canada. In order to accomplish this two steps will need to be completed:

  1. Register your company with a provincial transportation authority you plan to do business in. Please click here to learn how.
  2. Once you received your provincial authority, you can apply for either a bonded or non-bonded Highway Carrier Code with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). To learn how to register for a carrier code click here. To learn how to become a bonded Canadian highway carrier click here.

Once you have completed registering for provincial transportation authority(ies) and also received an approval letter from CBSA for a bonded or non-bonded Highway Carrier Code, you can then register with an ACI eManifest Service Provider such as BorderConnect so you can process the required ACI eManifest when crossing into Canada with commercial loads. You will also need to order the necessary cross-border labels and documents that the customs broker and/or CBSA officer will need when arriving at the border.

Below are the following additional steps that will need to be completed in order to bring commercial loads into Canada:

  1. Sign up to BorderConnect so you can file ACI eManifests with CBSA. You can register here. Or learn about ACI eManifest for BorderConnect and how it works by clicking here.
  2. Order PARS barcode labels and any other customs documents you may require when taking commercial loads into Canada. You can order PARS labels and customs documents and lead sheets here from BorderPrint.

What is a CVOR and an International Registration Plan (IRP) and how do I get my provincial authority to cross into Canada as a U.S. highway carrier?

In most cases, if your vehicle is plated in Ontario or the U.S. and if your commercial vehicle weighs over 4,500 kg you will require a Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration (CVOR) in order to conduct business within the province of Ontario. Similar to a US DOT or Motor Carrier (MC) number in the U.S. You do not need to register for a CVOR or any other provincial transportation authority if you are already registered in another Canadian province.

For more information on registering for a CVOR, or to register your vehicle(s) with a specific provincial authority, click the links below.

Highway carriers will also be required to register for the International Registration Plan (IRP), which is a vehicle registration system for trucks operating inter-jurisdiction between many Canadian provinces and throughout North America. A vehicle is eligible under the IRP if the vehicle is intended for operation in two or more jurisdictions and meets at least one of the following conditions:

  • registered weight of 11,794 kg or more
  • three or more axles regardless of weight
  • has a combined weight of 11,794 kg or more in combination with a trailer or semi-trailer
  • will be operating in a jurisdiction that requires IRP registration for a particular class or weight of vehicle

To register for an International Registration Plan (IRP), click here.

What is a Highway Carrier Code, and how do I apply for one?

To transact business with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), highway carriers require a carrier code, regardless of how often they cross the Canadian border with commercial goods. A carrier code is a four-character unique identifier that is assigned by CBSA to identify a carrier. Only one carrier code is issued to each legal entity (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship).

A highway carrier code is required to file an ACI eManifest and to use PARS barcode labels so shipments can be cleared by a customs broker.

For the purpose of assessing carrier code eligibility, a carrier is a person involved in international commercial transportation who operates a conveyance used to transport specified goods to or from Canada. To operate a conveyance means to have legal custody and control of the conveyance as:

  • an owner
  • a lessee under a lease or agreement of hire
  • a charterer under an agreement of hire
  • as a purchaser under a conditional sale or hire purchase agreement that reserves to the vendor the title to the conveyance until the purchase price is paid or certain conditions are performed
  • a mortgagor

CBSA also issues unique four-character codes to eligible freight forwarders as well. Only one freight forwarder code is issued to each legal entity (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship). A freight forwarder is defined as an agent who arranges for the transportation of goods, and who may provide other services such as consolidation and deconsolidation of shipments, de-stuffing containers, customs brokerage and warehousing.

For more detailed information on what a CBSA Highway Carrier Code is and how to qualify, visit CBSA's website here.

When applying for a Highway Carrier Code, the first step is to determine if you need a bonded or non-bonded carrier code. If you would like to learn how to become a bonded Canadian highway carrier, click here to learn more.

Once you've determined which type of carrier code you'd like to apply for visit CBSA's Highway Carrier Code Application page, follow the instructions laid out and you will need to fill out a Form BSF 329-7. In addition to the required forms that need to be completed, you will also need to supply CBSA with the following information:

  • a complete list the vehicles in your fleet, or vehicle information if you're an owner-operator.
  • Company Ownership documentation.

When applying for a bonded Highway Carrier Code, you will also need to fill out a D120 Customs Bond Form in addition to your BSF 329-7 form after you have completed your application to become a bonded Canadian Highway Carrier. You will also need to provide CBSA with the following information:

  • a complete list the vehicles in your fleet, or vehicle information if you're an owner-operator.
  • Company Ownership documentation.
  • the original D120 Customs Bond (must be free of errors, as errors will result in the rejection of the application)

After your fill out the Form BSF 329-7 and the D120 Customs Bond Form (if applying to be a bonded Canadian Highway Carrier), you will then submit your carrier code application package to CBSA. Non-bonded carrier code applications can be submitted via email, and bonded carrier code applications must be done via mail. Non-bonded carrier code applications typically take around 3 business days to process, and upon acceptance a carrier code will be emailed to you. Bonded carrier code applications can take up to 10 business days, depending on when the bonded carrier code application package was received.

Once you receive your Highway Carrier Code from CBSA, you can then move on to the next step, ordering PARS barcode labels, as CBSA requires you to use your carrier code to cross into Canada within 30-days to avoid receiving a potential AMPS Penalties. You can order the required PARS barcode labels here from BorderPrint. To learn what barcodes or other customs documents are required, click here.

The highway carrier will also be able to register and submit ACI eManifests to CBSA once they have an approved carrier code. Highway carriers can register for BorderConnect ACI eManifest here. To learn what ACI eManifest is and how to register click here.

What is the difference between a bonded and non-bonded Canadian Highway Carrier?

The main differences between a non-bonded and a bonded highway carrier is where Canadian-bound shipments can be released. A non-bonded carrier must release all shipments at the first point of arrival in Canada. A bonded carrier can transport in-bond commercial goods beyond the first point of arrival and must post financial security with CBSA. This includes the following:

  • transiting through Canada (that is, using Canada as a corridor, for example US to Canada to US)
  • moving goods inland to a CBSA office or sufferance warehouse
  • applying to the Customs Self Assessment program, the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program
  • participating in the Marine Overland Movement Program

Although registering as a non-bonded highway carrier is a much simpler process, registering to become a bonded Canadian highway carrier to take advantage of the points mentioned above is much more involved. Please click here to learn the process of registering to become a Canadian bonded highway carrier.

As mentioned previously, there are limitations as a non-bonded highway carrier, as the non-bonded carrier can only take shipments that must be released at the first Canadian port of arrival and cannot bring commercial goods to be released inland. However, there are instances when a non-bonded highway carrier can bring commercial loads in-bond, such as with a Single Trip Bond.

Single Trip Bonds can be obtained by either CBSA or a Customs Broker, which gives a single trip bond authorization by either posting security with CBSA using cash or a certified cheque or through a Customs Broker that offers this service. Click here to learn how to get a single trip bond.

What cross-border supplies do I need, and what are PARS barcode labels?

Crossing into Canada as a commercial highway carrier involves initially providing required documentation and barcode labels, such as an ACI eManifest lead sheet or a PARS barcode label as a scannable barcode is required when crossing into Canada at the first Canadian port of arrival. An ACI eManifest lead sheet can be printed, faxed or emailed directly to the driver using BorderConnect eManifest software. And PARS barcode labels can be ordered and shipped to the highway carrier from BorderPrint.

Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) is a Canadian shipment type for commercial goods to clear through CBSA and on an ACI eManifest, and by a customs broker. Almost all goods are cleared as a PARS shipment unless they specifically qualify for another release type, or are exempted from clearing as a PARS, depending on the scenario.

PARS numbers use a Cargo Control Number (CCN) and highway carriers are required to use sequential PARS barcode labels when assigning it to specific shipments that require clearance by a customs broker.

If a Canadian-bound shipment is arriving under a different release type (other than a PARS), other documentation may be required in addition to an ACI eManifest lead sheet when arriving at the first Canadian port of arrival. Below are some examples as to what is required when crossing with other release types.

  • An A8A In-Bond Cargo Control Document is required when arriving to Canada with an In-Bond shipment, a Personal Goods shipment, an ATA Carnet temporary admission shipment, an E29B temporary import bond, and an Orders In Council shipment for example.
  • An A8B In-Transit Manifest is required if the highway carrier is a Canadian bonded carrier and plans on bringing commercial goods through Canada (ex. from U.S. to U.S.).
  • A CSA Carrier Lead Sheet is required when the highway carrier and driver are both either Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) approved and the driver will be crossing into Canada with a CSA load.

For more information on shipment release types visit the BorderConnect Support Wiki, or to order the required cross-border labels, lead sheets and documents, visit BorderPrint.

How do I prepare my driver to cross into Canada commercially, and what documents does he need to cross?

Commercial truck drivers operating in the U.S. will have to provide proper identification in order to cross into Canada with a commercial load.

Travel documents needed by the driver are:

  • Proof of Citizenship (Passport, Passport Card, Citizenship Card)
  • Valid Drivers License (Issued in a U.S. state)
  • U.S. Permanent Resident VISA
  • Native American ID (INAC)
  • Nexus Card
  • FAST Card

For permanent residents of the U.S. and citizens of a foreign country, you are required to show the passport of citizenship in addition to a permanent resident card. For additional information on required documentation when crossing into Canada, click here.

In addition to the drivers identification, the driver may be require to provide additional paperwork when crossing into Canada.

For example, if the driver will be taking a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) shipment, or a Customs Self Assessment (CSA) shipment into Canada, they will be required to be registered in the FAST program as an approved FAST driver, and as such, provide a valid FAST card at the time of arrival.

The driver will also be required to provide a required ACI eManifest lead sheet or a PARS barcode label on the document if crossing loaded with commercial goods as well as any other documentation pertaining to the shipment crossing into Canada, such as the Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice and other documents, depending on the release type or cargo exemption. For more information.

For more information on Canadian shipment release types and what documentation is required, visit the BorderConnect Support Wiki.

What is an ACI eManifest, and how do I register for it to send ACI eManifests to CBSA?

Advance Commercial Information (ACI) electronic manifests provide Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers with electronic pre-arrival information so that they are equipped with accurate commercial conveyance and shipment information before the driver arrives at the first Canadian port of arrival.

For highway carriers, it involves filing an electronic manifest (eManifest) at least one hour prior to the drivers arrival at the first Canadian port of arrival. Under CBSA regulations, highway carriers must ensure that the complete ACI eManifest, including the shipment information are on file with CBSA. Failing to process an ACI eManifest could result in refused entry into Canada and/or a monetary Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalty at the time of arrival.

Information required when filing an ACI eManifest with CBSA is as follows:

  • Conveyance information such as a unique conveyance reference number (CRN or Trip Number), port of arrival, estimated time and date of arrival, truck/vehicle information, trailer information (if applicable) and a marked Cargo Exemption (if applicable).
  • Shipment information such as the shipment release type, cargo control number, shipper information, consignee information, city of acceptance (if applicable), description of goods, quantity, quantity type, weight.

For more information on ACI eManifest, visit BorderConnect ACI eManifest Requirements page or CBSA.

To register your highway carrier for ACI eManifest, the carrier must first have an approved Canadian Highway Carrier Code registered with CBSA.

Once the highway carrier is registered with an approved Canadian Highway Carrier Code they can then register with an ACI eManifest service provider, such as BorderConnect. To sign up to BorderConnect ACI eManifest and start a free no-obligation 30-day trial, click here.

When registering for BorderConnect ACI eManifest software, the following information will need to be filled out:

  • Company Information such as a legal company name, Canadian Carrier Code, SCAC (if applicable), your company head office details (address info and email address).
  • Contact Information and Login Credentials such as the name of the person registering, title, email address, phone number, your new username and password (to log in to BorderConnect).

Finalizing the registration to BorderConnect ACI will include validating your email address and require the user to send back their signed ACI registration document back to BorderConnect, so we may forward the registration documents to CBSA Technical Commercial Client Unit. Only Section 10 of the ACI registration will need to be filled out and signed. After approximately 2-10 business days BorderConnect will email the user to let them know their ACI is enabled, once approved by CBSA.

What are customs brokers and what documents do I need to send them?

A licensed customs broker handles the customs process for commercial shipments to clear going into Canada with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Traditionally, importers rely on the customs broker to file specific information with customs about the shipment including:

  • Completing required documentation for export shipments
  • Clearing shipments of imported goods
  • Collecting required duties and taxes
  • Preparing customs accounting documents
  • Consulting on things like how to take advantage of free trade agreements

In most cases it is the importer or shipper that will provide the shipping documents to the highway carrier as well as providing information on what customs broker to send the paperwork to. As a highway carrier, it's recommended to talk to the importer or shipper about information on who the customs broker is and to provided all the proper documents to the carrier.

Depending on the shipment release type, the importer or shipper must provide a commercial invoice, packing list or other documentation that may be required, such as a NAFTA certificate or Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) documentation. The highway carrier will also have to provide a Bill of Lading and a PARS barcode label affixed to either the commercial invoice or bill of lading before sending the shipping documents to the customs broker.

The commercial invoice must have the following information:

  • Sellers name, phone number, and address
  • Buyers name, phone number, and address
  • Description of the goods (including the tariff information and value)
  • Country of manufacture of goods
  • PARS barcode label (if clearing as a PARS)

The shipping documents must also include a Bill of Lading. A Bill of Lading is a legal document issued by the highway carrier to the shipper that details the shipment information such as a load number, description of goods, quantity and weight. It also acts as a title of receipt for the shipped goods and the contract between the carrier and the shipper.

In addition to the customs documents mentioned above, the highway carrier will also need to inform the customs broker of the Canadian port of arrival and the estimated time and date of arrival. In most cases this is written directly below the carriers PARS barcode label on the commercial invoice or bill of lading.

How do I become a Canadian bonded highway carrier?

A bonded Canadian carrier has many advantages, compared to a non-bonded Canadian highway carrier. For example, a bonded carrier can take shipments to be released inland to a bonded warehouse (such as a sufferance warehouse), and can apply for certain trusted trader programs such as Free and Secure Trade (FAST) and Customs Self Assessment (CSA), which many large companies (such as automotive manufacturers for example) prefer for their shipments.

A bonded carrier posts security with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to cover the following situations:

  • Move commercial goods to an inland Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office or warehouse.
  • Move commercial merchandise or goods in transit through a Canadian corridor (such as when bringing goods from the lower 48 U.S. states to Alaska for example).
  • Apply to the Customs Self Assessment (CSA) Program and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program.

Highway carriers can post financial security (of $5000 to $25000) through an approved surety company (such as Hub International or Quickbond for example) to initiate the bond application process.

It's also important to review CBSA guidelines on becoming a bonded Canadian highway carrier which can be reviewed here.

To apply to become a bonded Canadian highway carrier you must follow the instructions as outlined with CBSA. This includes:

  • Providing the original filled out CBSA Form 329-7 Carrier Code Application.
  • Providing the original filled out CBSA Customs Bond Form D120.
  • Apply to the Customs Self Assessment (CSA) Program and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program.

The Customs Bond Form D120 must include the supporting documents as well, such as proof of the continuous (or specific period of time) bond issued by the surety company.

You will also have to provide proof of ownership of the highway carrier, the company owner name, address as also mentioned in the BSF 329-7 form, the business number (as assigned by the CRA, foreign companies can leave that field blank), signature of the owner or CEO, surety company details and signatures of surety company, embossed surety company seal, witness signature(s), a witness signature(s) for the surety company, date of signature/seal and power of attorney information.

Once CBSA approves your bonded carrier application the carrier will be issued a new bonded Canadian carrier code. The carrier can then also, start the process to become a trusted trader. To learn about trusted trader programs such as CSA or the FAST program click here.

What are the steps I need to complete to start crossing into the U.S. as a Canadian based highway carrier?

To cross into the U.S. commercially as a Canadian based trucking company or owner-operator, you must first operate under your own authority in Canada and be registered as commercial vehicle operator with either a Commercial Vehicle Operators Registration (CVOR) or another provincial transportation authority. If you have not registered for a CVOR or any provincial transportation authority, please click here for instructions on how to do so.

If the carrier or owner-operator does have a valid CVOR or is registered with a provincial transportation authority, the next step is to get your authority to cross into the U.S. In order to accomplish this two steps will need to be completed:

  1. Register your company with U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) or register to get your Motor Carrier (MC) Number. Please click here to learn how.
  2. Once you received your USDOT or MC Number, you can apply for a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) with National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). To learn how to register for a SCAC, click here.

Once you have completed registering for a USDOT or MC Number and also received an approval letter from NMFTA with a valid Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC), you can then register with an ACE Manifest Service Provider such as BorderConnect so you can process the required ACE electronic manifest when crossing into the U.S. with commercial loads. You will also need to order the necessary cross-border labels and documents that the customs broker and/or CBP officer will need when arriving at the border.

Below are the following additional steps that will need to be completed in order to bring commercial loads into the U.S.:

  1. Sign up to BorderConnect so you can file ACE Manifests with U.S. CBP. You can register here. Or learn about ACE Manifest for BorderConnect and how it works by clicking here.
  2. Order PAPS barcode labels and any other customs documents you may require when taking commercial loads into the U.S. You can order PAPS labels and customs documents and lead sheets here from BorderPrint.

What is a USDOT and a Motor Carrier (MC) Number and how do I get my authority to cross into the U.S. as a Canadian highway carrier?

In most cases, if your vehicle is plated in Ontario or the U.S. and if your commercial vehicle weighs over 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) you will require a USDOT Number in order to conduct business within the United States. Similar to a CVOR or registering with a provincial authority in Canada. However, Canadian highway carriers may also have to register for a Motor Carrier (MC) number with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) if the carrier would like to haul any regulated commodities into the U.S.

A U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number is an interstate operating authority and a unique identifier assigned to commercial carriers and owner-operators performing interstate moves by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The U.S. government uses this number to keep track of safety records, registration status, compliance reviews, inspections and more.

What is the difference between a USDOT and an MC Number?

  • A USDOT number identifies highway carriers operating in interstate commerce, while an MC number identifies a carrier who transports regulated commodities for hire in interstate commerce. The definition of a regulated commodity can be found with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration here.

Highway carriers will need to register for a USDOT if:

  • Vehicle(s) has a gross weight of 4,536 kg (10,001 lbs) or more.
  • Is involved in interstate commerce within the U.S. or commerce from outside the U.S.
  • Is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce (see 49 CFR 385.403).

To register for a USDOT number you can visit FMCSA website here.

Highway carriers will need to also register for a Motor Carrier (MC) Number if:

  • A highway carrier plans on taking loads into the U.S. or across interstate lines with a commodity listed in the FMCSA regulated commodities list, which can be found here.

To register for a Motor Carrier (MC) number you can visit FMCSA website here.

What is a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC), and how do I apply for one?

To transact business with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), highway carriers require a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) to be registered with National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), regardless of how often they cross the U.S. border with commercial goods. A SCAC code is a four-letter unique identifier that is assigned by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to identify a carrier. Only one carrier code is issued to each legal entity (corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship).

A SCAC code is required to file an ACE Manifest and to use PAPS barcode labels so shipments can be cleared by a customs broker. SCAC codes must also be renewed on an annual basis.

For more detailed information on what a SCAC Code is and how to qualify, visit NMFTA.org website here.

Once you've been approved with a USDOT and/or MC Number and you would like to apply for a Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) visit National Motor Freight Traffic Association website's SCAC Application page, follow the instructions laid out here. In addition to the required forms that need to be completed, you will also need to supply NMFTA.org with the following information for your application:

  • Legal Company name and Trade Name
  • Company Ownership documentation and address
  • Type of Company or Operation
  • Applicant Representative Information (if applicable)
  • Fee to be payable to NMFTA.org

After your fill out and submit your Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) application to NMFTA.org you will receive (if approved), a letter by email and/or physical mail in approximately 1-5 business days with an approval letter from NMFTA.org and provided in that letter will be a four-letter SCAC code, which will be valid for 12 months, until it will need to be renewed again.

Once you receive your SCAC from NMFTA, you can then move on to the next step, which is registering with an ACE Manifest service provider such as BorderConnect, which you can do here and ordering PAPS barcode labels, as many customs brokers require you to use your SCAC code in a PAPS barcode label in order to process your clearance to cross into the U.S. You can order the required PAPS barcode labels here from BorderPrint. To learn what barcodes or other customs documents are required, click here.

What is the difference between a bonded and non-bonded U.S. Highway Carrier?

The main differences between a non-bonded and a U.S. bonded highway carrier is where U.S. bound shipments can be released. A non-bonded carrier must release all shipments at the first point of entry in the United States. A bonded carrier is licensed to move freight through the U.S. or across the U.S. without having to pay duties, taxes and/or fees on those goods during that specific portion of their transportation and must post financial security with U.S. CBP. This includes the following:

  • Transiting through the U.S. (that is, using U.S. as a corridor, for example Canada through the U.S. back to Canada)
  • Moving goods inland to a bonded warehouse
  • Applying to trusted trader programs, such as the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) programs.

Although registering as a non-bonded highway carrier is a much simpler process, registering to become a bonded U.S. highway carrier to take advantage of the points mentioned above is much more involved. Please click here to learn the process of registering to become a U.S. bonded highway carrier.

As mentioned previously, there are limitations as a non-bonded highway carrier, as the non-bonded carrier can only take shipments that must be released at the first U.S. port of entry and cannot bring commercial goods to be released inland or transit through the U.S. However, there are instances when a non-bonded highway carrier can bring commercial loads in-bond, such as with a Single Entry Bond.

Single Entry Bonds can be obtained by either U.S. CBP or a Customs Broker, which gives a single entry bond authorization by either posting security with U.S. CBP using cash or a certified cheque or through a Customs Broker that offers this service. Click here to learn more about single entry bonds.

What cross-border supplies do I need, and what are PAPS barcode labels?

Crossing into the U.S. as a commercial highway carrier involves initially providing required documentation and barcode labels, such as an ACE Manifest lead sheet or a PAPS barcode label as a typed or written trip number or shipment control number is required when crossing into the U.S. at the first U.S. port of entry. An ACE Manifest lead sheet can be printed, faxed or emailed directly to the driver using BorderConnect eManifest software. And PAPS barcode labels can be ordered and shipped to the highway carrier from BorderPrint.

Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) is a U.S. shipment type for commercial goods to clear through U.S. CBP and on an ACE Manifest, and by a customs broker. Almost all goods are cleared as a PAPS shipment unless they specifically qualify for another release type, or are exempted from clearing as a PAPS, depending on the scenario.

PAPS numbers use a Shipment Control Number (SCN) and highway carriers are recommended to use sequential PAPS barcode labels when assigning it to specific shipments that require clearance by a customs broker.

If a U.S.-bound shipment is arriving under a different release type (other than a PAPS), other documentation may be required in addition to the recommended ACE Manifest lead sheet when arriving at he first U.S. port of entry. Below are some examples as to what is required when crossing with other release types.

  • A CBP Form 7512 is required when arriving to the U.S. with an In-Bond shipment.
  • A Customs Form 7512B (also known as an A8B In-Transit Manifest) is required if the highway carrier is a U.S. bonded carrier and plans on bringing commercial goods through the U.S. (ex. from Canada to Canada).
  • A Customs Form 3299 (Declaration For Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles) is required if the highway carrier is hauling personal goods or affects into the U.S.
  • A Customs Form 7523 (Entry and Manifest of Merchandise Free of Duty) is required if the highway carrier is hauling goods that qualify as items that are free of duty and taxes into the U.S.
  • An NCAP / FAST Carrier Lead Sheet is required when the highway carrier and driver are both Free and Secure Trade (FAST) approved and the driver will be crossing into the U.S. with a FAST load. This is only required to be used during downtime of the National Customs Automation Program (NCAP) system.

For more information on shipment release types visit the BorderConnect Support Wiki, or to order the required cross-border labels, lead sheets and documents, visit BorderPrint.

How do I prepare my driver to cross into the U.S. commercially, and what documents does he need to cross?

Commercial truck drivers operating in Canada will have to provide proper identification in order to cross into the U.S. with a commercial load.

Travel documents needed by the driver are:

  • Proof of Citizenship (Passport, Passport Card, Citizenship Card)
  • Valid Drivers License (Issued in a Canadian province)
  • Canadian Permanent Resident Card - Canadian permanent residents may also need to have a valid U.S. VISA to enter the U.S. if they are citizens of a country not participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
  • Native American ID (INAC)
  • Nexus Card
  • FAST Card

For permanent residents of the U.S. and citizens of a foreign country, you are required to show the passport of citizenship in addition to a permanent resident card. For additional information on required documentation when crossing into the U.S., click here.

In addition to the drivers identification, the driver may be require to provide additional paperwork when crossing into the U.S.

For example, if the driver will be taking a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) shipment, or a shipment of a highway carrier participating in Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) or Partners In Protection (PIP) they will be required to be registered in the FAST program as an approved FAST driver, and as such, provide a valid FAST card at the time of arrival.

The driver will also be required to provide a valid ACE Manifest lead sheet with a trip number, a PAPS barcode label or written shipment control number on the document if crossing loaded with commercial goods as well as any other documentation pertaining to the shipment crossing into the U.S., such as the Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice and other documents, depending on the release type or cargo exemption. For more information.

For more information on U.S. shipment release types and what documentation is required, visit the BorderConnect Support Wiki.

What is an ACE Manifest, and how do I register for it to send ACE Manifests to CBP?

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) electronic manifests provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers with electronic pre-arrival information so that they are equipped with accurate commercial trip and shipment information before the driver arrives at the first U.S. port of entry.

For highway carriers, it involves filing an electronic manifest (eManifest) prior to the drivers arrival at the first U.S. port of entry. Under CBP requirements, highway carriers must ensure that the complete ACE Manifest, including the shipment information are on file with CBP. Failing to process an ACE Manifest could result in refused entry into the U.S. and/or a monetary penalty at the time of arrival.

Information required when filing an ACE Manifest with CBP is as follows:

  • Trip information such as a unique trip number, port of entry, estimated time and date of arrival, truck/vehicle information, trailer information (if applicable), driver information, passenger information (if applicable), seal information (if applicable), and if the load contains any Instruments of International Traffic (IIT) (if applicable).
  • Shipment information such as the shipment entry type, shipment control number, shipper information, consignee information, description of goods, quantity, quantity type, weight, hazardous goods information (if applicable).

For more information on ACE Manifest, visit BorderConnect ACE Manifest Requirements page or CBP.

To register your highway carrier for ACE Manifest, the carrier must first have an approved Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) Code registered with National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA).

Once the highway carrier is registered with an approved four-letter SCAC they can then register with an ACE Manifest service provider, such as BorderConnect. To sign up to BorderConnect ACE Manifest and start a free no-obligation 30-day trial, click here.

When registering for BorderConnect ACE Manifest software, the following information will need to be filled out:

  • Company Information such as a legal company name, SCAC code, Canadian Carrier Code (if applicable), your company head office details (address info and email address).
  • Contact Information and Login Credentials such as the name of the person registering, title, email address, phone number, your new username and password (to log in to BorderConnect).

Finalizing the registration to BorderConnect will include validating your email address and once you login and if your SCAC is valid, you can process ACE Manifests immediately.

What are customs brokers and what documents do I need to send them?

A licensed customs broker handles the customs process for commercial shipments to clear going into the U.S with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Traditionally, importers rely on the customs broker to file specific information with customs about the shipment including:

  • Completing required documentation for export shipments
  • Clearing shipments of imported goods
  • Collecting required duties and taxes
  • Preparing customs accounting documents
  • Consulting on things like how to take advantage of free trade agreements

In most cases it is the importer or shipper that will provide the shipping documents to the highway carrier as well as providing information on what customs broker to send the paperwork to. As a highway carrier, it's recommended to talk to the importer or shipper about information on who the customs broker is and to provided all the proper documents to the carrier.

Depending on the shipment release type, the importer or shipper must provide a commercial invoice, packing list or other documentation that may be required, such as a NAFTA certificate or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documentation, depending on the commodity. The highway carrier will also have to provide a Bill of Lading and a written or barcoded PAPS label affixed to either the commercial invoice or bill of lading before sending the shipping documents to the customs broker.

The commercial invoice must have the following information:

  • Sellers name, phone number, and address
  • Buyers name, phone number, and address
  • Description of the goods (including the tariff information and value)
  • Country of manufacture of goods
  • Written or barcoded PAPS label (if clearing as a PAPS)

The shipping documents must also include a Bill of Lading. A Bill of Lading is a legal document issued by the highway carrier to the shipper that details the shipment information such as a load number, description of goods, quantity and weight. It also acts as a title of receipt for the shipped goods and the contract between the carrier and the shipper.

In addition to the customs documents mentioned above, the highway carrier will also need to inform the customs broker of the U.S. Port of Entry and the estimated time and date of arrival. In most cases this is written directly below the carriers PAPS barcode label on the commercial invoice or bill of lading.

How do I become a U.S. bonded highway carrier?

A bonded carrier is a transportation provider that is licensed to move freight through/across U.S. points of entry (ports, border crossings) without having to pay duties, taxes and/or fees on those goods during that specific portion of their transportation. Utilizing a licensed bonded carrier allows an importer and/or consignee to transport cargo pending customs clearance until it reaches the port of entry at its destination country. In-Bond shipments are more commonly done when freight needs to be transported through the U.S. with plans to eventually move along to a foreign country.

A bonded carrier posts security with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to cover the following situations:

  • Move commercial goods to an inland airport, rail yard, seaport, CBP office or bonded warehouse.
  • Move commercial merchandise or goods in transit through a U.S. corridor (such as when bringing goods in-transit through the U.S.).
  • Apply to the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT), Partners in Protection (PIP) programs and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program.

Highway carriers can first post financial security (of $5000 to $25000) through an approved surety company to initiate the bond application process.

It's also important to review U.S. CBP guidelines on becoming a bonded U.S. highway carrier which can be reviewed here.

To apply to become a bonded U.S. highway carrier you must follow the instructions as outlined with CBP. This includes:

  • Providing the original filled out CBP Bond Form 301 Application.
  • Providing the original filled out CBP Form 301A Addendum (if applicable).
  • Providing the original filled out CBP Form 5106 (if applicable).

The Customs Bond Form 301 must include the supporting documents as well, such as proof of the continuous (or specific period of time) bond issued by the surety company.

You will also have to provide proof of ownership of the highway carrier, the company owner name, address as also mentioned in the Customs Bond Form 301, the business number (as assigned by the Internal Revenue Service, foreign companies can leave that field blank), signature of the owner or CEO, surety company details and signatures of surety company, embossed surety company seal, witness signature(s), a witness signature(s) for the surety company, date of signature/seal and power of attorney information.

Once CBP approves your bonded carrier application the carrier can then begin to take in-bond shipments. The carrier can then also, start the process to become a trusted trader. To learn about trusted trader programs such as CTPAT or the FAST program click here.