The Advantages of Being in Control of Your Freight at the Border and Beyond

Interior view of delivery man driving a van or truck. Delivery logistics cargo service old vintage truck driver in winter road traffic in Slovenia.

As we enter the Spring season of 2021 with all of the challenges of this past year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have seen the rise in secondary searches at the borders, increased infractions and fines, increased offloading at the borders and pre border toll booth checking stops, seizures of conveyances, increased drug smuggling and increased criminal charges and arrests. Incidents like these can quite literally take a transportation company down. It has been difficult for many companies to stay in business through this pandemic, many either changing their goods carried to essential needs, merging with another company, selling their company or worse, just closing their doors.

The difficulties of managing a transportation company in Canada are enormous. The companies that look beyond their borders to transport freight across North America are met with so many new challenges. Safety, security, accurate documentation, customs, border guards, inclement weather, traffic, accidents and now Covid-19 obstacles. There is a high risk of something going wrong along the routes resulting in time wasted, huge fines, delays and loss of customers due to these issues. Cargo theft is always at the forefront of truckers’ minds as well, having increased by the hundreds of thousands costing companies millions of dollars and truck drivers lives. As a lot of manufacturing, especially automotive, moved to Mexico, there has been a giant increase in the necessity for trucks to pick up these goods and move throughout North America, this giving trucking companies a great advantage in the transportation market. With the legalization of marijuana in Canada and the rules of not driving under the influence, this issue has decreased the number of drivers qualifying for truck driving jobs, this causes problems for the trucking companies looking for good trustworthy qualified drivers of which there is now a shortage.

To help with this entire situation, putting yourself as a driver and or a transportation company owner, in full charge of your freight at all times from the point of order to pick up, drop off, stops along the way and return trip. If you pre protect yourself, you will not have any issues along your routes. The following are tips on what to do to ensure that you, your company and your freight are in your control at all times.

Make sure you have all of your proper authorities to be able to carry goods as a highway carrier in Canada, USA and Mexico (if you carry to/from Mexico). Remember to do your ArriveCAN App before approaching the Canadian borders. Know who your customers are, verify their company, contact/s names telephone numbers and email address, addresses for pick up and drop off. Verify all information on your shipping orders ensuring that there is no erroneous information. If there is anything suspicious about the shipment orders to not take on that shipment, notify your immediate manager or company owner and if you are concerned, call the police. Ensure that normal routing is utilized – if there is any inclement weather, traffic or accidents please contact your dispatch to discuss the situation and alternate routes – your dispatch must know your whereabouts at all times for your safety. Have all of your documents, including the eManifests prepared with 100% accuracy. You must have not only the ACE/ACI eManifest but also the BOL, commercial invoice, packing list, customs document, certificate of origin for compliance with CUSMA/USMCA. When at the border remember that you absolutely Must wait for the Border Services Officer to stamp your entries, you will receive very hefty fines as well as have your compliance programs such as CTPAT, PIP, FAST and CSA taken away for inaccuracies and or failure to wait for the entry stamps. Always remember to conduct your 18-point inspection prior to departing the yard for pick up of your load, once you reach your destination and have offloaded, conduct another 18 point inspection. This specifically looks for drug smuggling and the agriculture clean and sweep. While driving on route, only stop for necessary reasons. Ensure that you have a seal on your cross border loads and a padlock or other locking mechanism on all domestic loads. ELDs and GPS have been great assets for trucking companies having the ability to know where their trucks and drivers are at all times. If you are not already part of the cross border initiative programs CTPAT FAST PIP TTP CSA AEO you might want to think about getting those certifications. They are not only great for easier border crossings as you are a lower risk trusted trader with verified heightened security measures but also great for business! All of those big automobile manufacturers, steel companies, grocery companies, large retail chains, plastic products, etc. are certified members and need good reliable trustworthy transportation companies to carry for them, if you have those certifications, you can get those contracts = better for business for you! Contact me directly and I can help you with those.

There is a lot of controversy going on regarding shipments coming in from Mexico. The drug smuggling trade has always been around and there is absolutely nothing good about it in any circumstance. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the drug smuggling out of Mexico into the USA and Canada has risen by staggering amounts. Due to the pandemic, the largest drug cartel in the world, the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico had to also adapt and innovate new ways of getting their illegal drugs into the USA and Canada, their biggest markets. They utilize more trucks that are at the ports such as Laredo, Texas, El Paso, Texas and Otay Mesa, California. They are also using drones and cryptocurrency as well as underground tunnels and sea routes. They target trucks because it is the easiest way for them to get the drugs into the USA and Canada and of course less chance that they themselves will get caught. When drugs are found in a truck it is automatically blamed on the driver until further investigation is conducted which can take years.

Remember that prior to Covid-19 only 2-3% of commercial trucks ever get stopped at the borders, now that there is decreased traffic at the borders, that number has gone up to 60-70%! So, beware and be ready to be stopped!  Always be present and watch the loading and unloading of your loads, insist on being present during both! If you are told that you are not allowed on the loading docks “due to covid-19”, tell the shipper/receiver that you have to be and that you are equipped with a mask and gloves and you will stand your required distance of 6’ (2.5m). Be observant! If you cannot stand inside the loading dock area, stand outside of your truck so that you can monitor and watch anyone coming near your truck. If you are told to wait inside your cab/tractor, insist on NO! You will do your best to stand outside and monitor your loading so that you are as aware of what is going on as you can be. If you feel that you have been mislead about the contents make sure that you let the border guard know before you are pulled over for secondary inspection! The more hands that touch your shipments, the higher the chances of errors occurring.