Posts Tagged ‘importing’


What Is A Bill Of Lading And What Is Its Purpose?

Bill Of Lading

What Is A Bill Of Lading And What Is Its Purpose?

A bill of lading is a receipt provided by the carrier to the consignee. The receipt contains a detailed list of all of the shipments goods.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will need to know exactly what is on your truck. To help make sure all of your goods are accounted for and declared, you must supply a bill of lading or pick up receipt when faxing your Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) entry to your customs broker.

Why A Bill Of Lading Is Used

1. The main purpose of the standard straight bill of lading is it is a contract of carriage.

Other Bill Of Lading Purposes Include:

2. It may incorporate the full terms of the contract between the consignor and the carrier by reference.
3. It is a receipt signed by the carrier confirming whether goods matching the contract description have been received in good condition.
4. When completed in full, it helps the customs broker match up commercial clearance paperwork to ensure a complete declaration for all of the goods aboard the truck.

The carrier or the shipper can complete it, but the driver of the transport company is to sign and date the bill of lading once the goods are onboard their truck.

Why A Bill Of Lading Is Important

For Customs purposes the most important details on the bill of lading are:

  1. Piece count (total skids, boxes, pallets)
  2. Weight (total weight of the goods listed)
  3. Description of the goods
  4. Date (the date of pick up/export is used to establish the date for exchange rate)

If there is only one (1) location you have picked up goods from, then only one (1) bill of lading or pick up receipt is required. If you are picking up from multiple locations, then you need to have a bill of lading or pick up receipt for each location you have picked up from.

Commercial Documents

When picking up freight from the shipper, they may give commercial documents to you. If they do, please send your commercial documents to the customs broker with the bill of lading or pick up receipt. It is important that you send the customs broker all the documents you have. It helps ensure that all required documents are in place to declare those goods to Customs.

If the shipper does not supply you with commercial documents, please let the customs broker know as soon as you know, so they can work on getting the documents in order.

Other Documents

Often, a commercial invoice and bill of lading are sufficient for the customs broker and CBSA to process your load. There are many instances where special documentation will be required. Some examples of goods that need additional documents are:

  • CFIA regulated goods (fresh fruits & vegetables, fresh cut flowers)
  • Transport Canada regulated goods (vehicles) – which require another government agency (in addition to CBSA) to review the import

When faxing your PARS to the customs broker, simply affix your barcode label to the bill of lading. Make sure you are not covering up any important information. Be sure to clearly indicate which port you are crossing at and on what date and time. Please also include your phone number so that you can be contacted in the case there are any documentation issues.

Remember to ALWAYS confirm that your load has been set up before you get to the border.

Be accountable for the goods you are transporting and your cross border experience. Providing all the appropriate paperwork to your customs broker will truly ease your journey. If you need assistance with your bill of lading or any other customs brokerage or freight forward services, feel free to contact the experts at Pacific Customs Brokers for all of your international trade needs. 

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Enjoy Duty-Free Imports With A Free Trade Agreement

Duty Free Free Trade


With relative ease, you can benefit from free trade. Free Trade Agreements allow you to import certain goods duty-free or at a reduced customs duty rate with participating countries.  To determine if you can benefit from one, let’s first take a look at the definition of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

What is a Free Trade Agreement?

Free Trade Agreements are agreements made between countries who want to reduce trade barriers on goods manufactured in their respective countries. Canada has entered into agreements with several countries including Colombia, Peru, Panama, Chile and most recently the European Union to name a few.

Free Trade Examples

Now that we understand the definition, let’s take a look at some examples.  A popular agreement is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which includes Canada, the United States, and Mexico. A more recent example is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.

4 Considerations When Evaluating Free Trade Benefits

 Now that we understand what a trade agreement is and examples of how they are used, lets take a closer look at the responsibilities you would be assuming.

In the case of NAFTA, eligible goods must be:

  • Manufactured in one of the respective countries (Canada, the U.S. or Mexico)
  • Qualify under the Rules of Origin
  • Shipped directly from the foreign country to the importing country (Canada, the U.S. or Mexico)

The following 4 areas require additional consideration:

1. Ensuring the items are shipped directly from a foreign country

In some instances, it is necessary to move the goods through a third country. A transportation scenario like this can still fall within the Free Trade Agreement rules by meeting certain conditions. In these instances, if the importer wishes to claim reduced or duty-free benefits, they will need to have proof that the goods were moved “in bond” through another foreign country and were never entered into the commerce of that country.

2. Accurate application of the tariff classification

Also of note is the common assumption that all Free Trade Agreements imported goods are all duty-free. This unfortunately, is incorrect.

Although some goods are entirely duty free, others are not.  Establishing the rate of duty for an imported good depends in part on determining the proper H.S. Tariff Classification. This classification must be accurate.  Furthermore, Tariff classification can be very complex and speaks to the essential character of the imported article including the following:

  • Description
  • Composition
  • End use

Additional questions about the product will need to be answered once the essential character has been determined.

To learn more about The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System sign up for our next H.S. Tariff Classification Workshop.

3. Comply with rules of origin

Another vital aspect of compliance are the Rules of Origin.  For example, if the product you are importing has any foreign content you must ensure it complies with NAFTA’s Rules of Origin to be eligible. Some goods containing foreign materials may qualify depending on the rules for those tariffs or the Regional Value Content (RVC). 

4. The party completing the documentation has sufficient knowledge

A further area of consideration relates to the party responsible for completing the shipment documentation. It is imperative that your foreign supplier has sufficient knowledge of the goods to support the completion of the Free Trade Agreement you will be using. Using the example of NAFTA, the person completing and signing the NAFTA Certificate of Origin is declaring that all statements are true and accurate. In other words, this person is attesting to due process and confirms that the goods listed qualify. 

Additionally, while the foreign supplier is responsible for supplying the respective FTA Certificate of Origin, the importer of record is ultimately responsible for the payment of duties, taxes and penalties if at a later date the goods are discovered not to qualify.

If you have reservations regarding the validity of a free trade certificate, you may better choose to pay the regular rate of duty.

In conclusion, not all Free Trade Agreements are the same. They provide importers and exporters  advantages such as duty-free or reduced customs duties. The best way to maximize the financial benefits of using an FTA is to ensure you understand your responsibilities.

Looking to learn more about how your company can benefit from free trade? Sign up below to be notified of our complimentary NAFTA for Beginners webinar.


Importing in 2017? This is where you start.

Importing in 2017? This is where you start.

Access to everything you need to know about the basics of importing commercial goods –  the RIGHT way – plus the bonus of professional development credits!

For over 10 years Pacific Customs Brokers Inc. has been providing professional development courses. Educating, training and supporting entrepreneurs and businesses, both small and large, to master the art of importing their products has been a priority in our culture internally and with our clients.

We pride ourselves on being “old soul.” What does that mean? It means that we build relationships and add extreme value in every relationship we have while treating each as the most important we may ever have. This philosophy is for both our team internally and our clients globally. It is one of our differentiating factors – we care and we care deeply about individual and professional success.

Our body of educational material reflects that philosophy and has been accredited across a spectrum of professional development fields from Customs Brokers to Accountants or Lawyers. This beginners series runs at 10 am EST to accommodate managing your working days and you will find that we focus on making it easy and accessible for everyone.

Our Trade Compliance Education is offered in webinar format and can be attended from the comfort of your laptop anywhere you are during any of our 4 seasonal offerings of our sessions. It is convenient for you and it is priced affordably to be available to everyone requiring, or desiring to stay abreast or engaged in the ever changing world of International Trade Compliance.

How our Webinars work:

Our initial 60-minute webinars provide an efficient and comprehensive introduction to the U.S. importing process. Beginning with a brief overview of how to accurately complete documentation, the parties involved in the supply chain, basic compliance considerations prior to importing, common entry types, free trade agreement eligibility, possible risks of non-compliance such as penalties, and more.

It is easy to attend, simply follow the links below. If you have questions just give us a call. We are open 24/7 and always happy to hear from you, answer your questions and build relationships new and old.

Click on YOUR Importing for Beginners scenario below to register or learn more:


Importing to the US for Beginners Webinar

Importing to Canada for Beginners Webinar




PS: Don’t forget that as an added perk, attending as a Professional Designate may earn you maintenance credits to your designations. See if you are eligible for credits here.

The Importance of a Bill of Lading

What is a Bill of Lading (BOL):

A bill of lading is a legal document between the shipper of particular goods and the carrier detailing the type, quantity, date of direct shipment and destination of the goods being carried. The bill of lading also serves as a receipt of shipment when the goods are delivered to the predetermined destination. This document must accompany the shipped goods, no matter the form of transportation, and must be signed by an authorized representative from the carrier, shipper and receiver. The carrier or the shipper can complete it, but the driver of the transport company is to sign and date it once the goods are on-board.

What does Customs look for on a Bill of Lading?

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) requires to know:

  • the number of pieces
  • total weight and
  • date of direct shipment for each shipment on board

The number of pieces, total weight and date of direct shipment is a requirement for the declaration made by the importer of record/customs broker. It is highly recommended that you provide a copy of the bill of lading to the importer of record/customs broker so that the information can be confirmed against the corresponding invoice(s) being declared. If it is not provided to the customs broker, the carrier must still advise by other means, the number of pieces, total weight and date if direct shipment.

A carrier must always make the bill of lading available to a CBSA officer in the event it is requested.


Do you have questions? Please share yours in the comments section below or contact Pacific Customs Brokers.

14 Must-Know Tips For Importing

Here are some quick tips to help with a smooth import into Canada:

  1. Get detailed, factual information about the commodity you are importing.
  2. Customs clearance is not instantaneous. A customs broker has to recreate your Canada Customs Invoice(CCI) line by line electronically for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other government departments. Once transmitted, the entry has to be reviewed by employees of the above mentioned departments.
  3. Determine if you are importing a regulated commodity.
  4. You should use one customs broker for all modes of transportation and all ports of entry.
  5. Examinations can be performed by any of the departments involved in importation.
  6. Some items are prohibited from entry into Canada — always do research on your commodity before you import.
  7. A shipment can be examined, even if previously accepted by Customs.
  8. Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) can be issued if any information provided is not in compliance with Customs regulations or found to be untrue.
  9. A customs broker requires certain information such as country of origin, currency and a complete description for every shipment, even in instances of repeat imports.
  10. Duty rates are in place to protect Canadian industry; not to inconvenience you. If a product has an extremely high duty rate, it is most likely for this reason.
  11. There is no such thing as “free”. No charge, free samples and giveaways still require all of the same information for Customs clearance as if they were purchased, including an accurate commercial value. Duties and taxes are still applicable.
  12. Hiring a customs broker enables you to access years of knowledge, experience and expertise in declaring your goods to Customs.
  13. Government forms can be confusing to complete. Save yourself time and read the instruction sheet before filling the form to ensure that it is completed correctly.
  14. Some commodities require additional documentation and certification in order to clear through CBSA and other government departments. Without the required documents, commodities can be refused entry into Canada.


Do you have any pointers that would be helpful for an importer? Share them in our comments section below or check out more of our Pacific Customs Broker blog.