Preparing for Shipping Across the Border in 2020

shipping across the border

Lately, we've been writing a lot about the effects of the summer season on drivers, warehouses, and retailers. We've covered everything from how to keep your workers from dehydrating to how a cold supply chain handles the heat. And even a few odd things scattered in-between.

But the one thing that we have yet to talk about is all the other stuff that happens during the summer season. All the planning and preparation for the coming year that happens.

Believe it or not, for shippers, summertime is the perfect opportunity for planning out future shipments. More specifically, this is the best time of the year to plan next year's cross-border shipments. After all, these, alongside heavy hauls are by far the most complex... and require a good deal of more time to plan.

Since it is about the middle of the year, it gives all parties involved an ample amount of time to get everything scheduled on their end, send in any paperwork, and start preparing the shipment for transport or reception. Trust us, there is absolutely nothing worse than planning a large shipment only for it to get delayed because of missing paperwork that was supposed to be completed the previous week!

In this blog post, we are going to take a look at the top 3 things that shippers planning cross-border shipments next year should start doing right now!


Paperwork and International Document Controls 

In 2018, trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico equated to $1.5 trillion. Shipments moved from US-based companies across the borders of these two countries 24/7, most of them without issue. However, delayed freight was mainly attributed to improper paperwork filing or clerical issues. 

A lot of these paperwork issues can be cleared up with a two-step process. In other words, when a document is filled out, it is scoured over by the person who has filled it out, then it is passed along to be looked over once more and finalized. Seems simple, right? It is! And it doesn't require a whole lot of extra time in the grand scheme of things.

Believe it or not, this is rarely what happens, though. As simple as it may be, it often simply just goes overlooked.

Aside from a poor paperwork control system in place, some of the leading delay causing paperwork issues include: 


  • Failure to note the consignee information (especially into Mexico). 
  • Mistakes with declaring NAFTA-specific commodities 
  • Simple type-errors noting incorrect quantities of products
  • Not having the right copies of declared paperwork or Commercial Invoices for international cross border shipping requirements.  


To be honest with you, with as prevalent as technology has become in the logistics industry, it is only a matter of time before they rare occurrences.

In the meantime, you can harness the power of some of the software platforms that are already available. One of these solutions is transportation management software. Many of the TMS platforms are even available as a cloud-based solution.

A well-built TMS simplifies the documentation process. It can file reports for you, forward paperwork to the correct people, and even provide you with real-time alerts.


Improve Accuracy of Consignee Data 

We touched on this item above, but it's important to clarify what specifically is causing freight delays with consignee data. This is, by far, one of the most common mistakes when it comes to cross border documentation. Something as simple as a misspelled name or missing RFC information can hold freight up for days on end.

Some of the specific items to look out for and train shipping employees to focus on for 2020 cross-border shipping include:  


  • Verify and document the correct contact name, address, phone numbers, and other specifics regarding the forwarding parties in Mexico and the US.  
  • Verify the RFC and Tax ID numbers for all consignees. 
  • Double-check that you’ve placed duplicate copies of all commercial invoices as required by Mexico or Canada.  


Without the proper consignee information, Customs agents will not allow your goods to be moved across the border. If there is any doubt whatsoever that the information is incorrect, it is much better and less time-consuming to simply ask them if the information you have is valid.


Begin a Relationship with a Cross-Border Shipping 3PL 

One of the best moves that any shipper can make is partnering with a 3PL. Third-party logistics companies help shippers fulfill their orders, monitor their performance, and scale their supply chain.

Many 3PLs even specialize in shipping across the border.

With new trade agreements pending, it is likely that several of the normal paperwork and requirements for documentation under NAFTA will change significantly. In order to ensure that your cross-border shipments are seamlessly moved without delay, working with an experienced 3PL is highly recommended. 

Here at Redwood Logistics, we are staying on top of all pending changes to the new trade agreement. Once ratified, we are fully prepared to make all necessary changes to ensure all freight is completely compliant.

Want to learn more? Reach out to us today!