Many times, we as customs brokers receive phone calls from importers, shippers, dispatchers and carriers frantically trying to find out why their shipment is “stuck at the border”. Lucky for them, we are ALWAYS Open 24/7, with live reception and no voice mail.
Sometimes it is a very simple answer and other incidence’s are more complex. Below are some of the most common reasons why a shipment may be stuck at the border.
1. Documents make no mention of who the customs broker is to assist with the clearance. “Customs Clearance- contact Pacific Customs Brokers 888.538.1566”
2. Documents are hard to decipher who the actual Importer of Record is. The Importer of Record (IOR) can be;
- The receiver of the goods – usually called “consignee”
- The shipper (acting as a “Non-Resident Importer” (NRI) and already set up with a Canadian customs broker)
- A third party having their shipments drop shipped from another location and in most cases will also be acting as a “Non-Resident Importer”
3. Neither the shipper or the consignee have not set up anything formally with a Canadian customs broker to effect customs clearance.
4. The driver/freight company picking up freight only has a Bill of Lading and is not given any other documents such as a commercial invoice or Canada Customs invoice.
5. Documents/commercial invoice does not have enough information to be able to prepare the entry for presentation and clearance with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Some of the information that can hold this up is:
- not enough information to classify the goods (Tariff Classification)
- total value or individual values are missing
- country of manufacture is missing
- total number of pieces is missing
- weight is missing
- commercial invoice document only shows product numbers or abbreviated number & item name (no general description of what the goods are). See below for examples.
For example: — 1956842ftp clr scn/cpy/prnt (not an acceptable description)
- 1956842ftp — Scanner/copier/printer unit (an acceptable description)
6. The document is not the correct document to obtain a customs clearance (i.e. purchase order or pick ticket)
7. A few more reasons freight crossing the border is often delayed may be due to the actual commodity being shipped. Perhaps there are other government agencies that are involved in approving the goods for Customs clearance, such as items that are under control of Canadian Food Inspections Agency (CFIA).
They require CFIA approval and some commodities are under quota and require an Import Permit. Perhaps the goods are listed on the Import Control List and require an Import Permit, such as some steel items. Meat shipments and those requirements are also extensive.
It is always a good idea to check with a customs broker for any special requirements or extra documentation and / or extra steps that may need to be taken to properly clear the goods across the border prior to ordering or shipping.
When in doubt, be sure to contact your customs broker. They’ll properly advise on what you need to do and what they need in order for your shipment (s) to avoid delays and have a seamless Customs clearance process.