It is important for manufacturers that are engaged in cross-border commerce to understand what is required to keep their U.S. – Mexico freight operations in compliance with governing rules and regulations.
This post will provide a summary of the requirements for commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and the operators engaged in carrying U.S. – Mexico freight between the two countries. Failing to abide by these regulations will mean that the operators and their employers are in violation of important provisions o the NAFTA, and potentially other US laws.
Essentially, it is generally true that these rules adhere to one unifying principle: Drivers are allowed to cross over into the US from Mexico or Canada only to deliver or pick up cargo traveling in what is referred to in the guidelines as “the stream of international commerce.” In other words, goods and operators delivering U.S. – Mexico freight must be entering or leaving the country.
Truck drivers must obtain a B-1 visa in order to enter the US if they are from Canada or Mexico. In order to qualify for this visa, the operator must be a resident of a country with no intention of leaving it, must establish that there are no domestic issues preventing the operator from immigrating, must intend to depart the country after completing the visa’s authorized time frame, and must have adequate financial wherewithal to successfully complete the business that brought the operator across the border.
It is important to remember that the rules allow the operator to travel only to accomplish international trade, and not domestic commercial activity. Therefore, drivers may cross over the border to deliver a load to multiple destinations, as well as pick up return loads from several locations.
Drivers may drop off a trailer and pick up a loaded trailer from that spot. They are also allowed to deliver their load, deadhead their trailer to another location within the US, and load that trailer at another US location before exiting the country. Drivers may even relay along the way, however, these relays must be for “necessary incidents” of international travel, and not deviate from specified routes.
On the flip side, drivers are not allowed to pick up and deliver loads within the US. They may not top off the loads they brought into the country. U.S. – Mexico freight must only be brought from outside and left inside. Any goods picked up inside must be delivered outside.
Additional documentation must of course be presented in order for operators to obtain B-1 visas. Canadian drivers must present a Canadian passport, an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, OR an enrollment card from a DHS trusted traveler program such as NEXUS, SENTRI, etc. Mexican drivers must present a valid passport AND non-immigrant visa. Mexican citizens may also present a Form DSP-150 Border Crossing Card in lieu of a B-1 or B-2.