Commercial carriers shipping from Mexico to NAFTA partner countries can avoid hassles and expense by knowing and following the rules.

Crossing international borders can be stressful under any circumstances, and more so for commercial carriers shipping from Mexico to the United States and Canada. However, taking the time and making the effort to learn what is expected from international shippers, in advance can potentially save a fair amount of trouble, and possibly, a significant amount of financial resources.

What follows are a several things that commercial carriers shipping from Mexico to other NAFTA signatory nations should be take the time to consider doing:

Get a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) International Carrier Bond

Before a carrier can ship into or through the United States, from Canada or Mexico, the CBP requires they have a bond on file. Bonds are underwritten by surety companies, through lengthy process outlined more thoroughly in this document. However, the actual steps to fulfill these requirements are fairly uncomplicated and straightforward:

1. Select a Surety to underwrite the bond. Make sure they are on the Department of the Treasuries Certified Companies.
2. The Surety will help those commercial carriers that are shipping from Mexico to the United States and Canada to fill out the required forms CBP 301 and the CBP 301 Addendum. For shippers that wish to understand the charges, the policies which determine bond amounts are explained in the linked document.
3. Make sure your port of entry has a copy of the bond in advance.
4. Those commercial carriers shipping from Mexico to points north should consider participating in the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program. Doing so will dramatically reduce wait times at international borders. Be aware however, that the process involves a background check, the meeting of certain requirements, as well as the payment of a US $50 application processing fee.

As is the case regarding any process which involves the coordinated action of a Surety company, the Department of Homeland Security, the CBP, and the Department of the Treasury, commercial carriers shipping from Mexico, to the United States and Canada may find the process to be a somewhat bureaucratic one, but measures are being made to streamline the process, and to move large portions of it online. In the meantime, it is imperative to follow the various guidelines that have been outlined. Individuals such as the international trade experts at the Tecma Group of Companies are available to assist.

Assume Responsibility for Cargo

As a shipper that is using the services of commercial carriers shipping from Mexico to move cargo, the United States deems that whatever is in a commercial conveyance is considered, in legal terms, the responsibility of the shipper from the time it reaches the border until it is offloaded at a warehouse, or other destination .

Ideally, cargo should be cleared by the shipper in advance with the CBP. If third parties wish to clear the goods on their behalf of the shipper, power of attorney must be granted to the party doing the clearing. Those who wish to perform this function must hold a customs broker’s license.

Those using commercial carriers shipping from Mexico should always maintain copies of any relevant paperwork. Also, a bill of sale should be kept for the records.

Be Aware of the Rules Governing Non-Traditional Cargoes

Shippers and truckers, particularly smaller operations, may find themselves in a position where they are transporting non-traditional cargo, i.e., cargo not moving from a supplier to an outlet, such as (most likely) private personal affects. In these instances, the owner of the items, and the shipper, may be required to submit additional forms. In a particular, the owner of the personal affects must fill out US Customs Form 3299 which certifies that the items have a legal right to be in the country.

Exercise Patience

While the process for commercial carriers shipping from Mexico, to the United States and Canada can, at times, seem daunting, hundreds of thousands of shippers and truckers successfully navigate the related bureaucratic maze each year. Newcomers can succeed, as well, if they make sure to follow the process as outlined by CBP.