Cross-Border Shipping

Moving freight across international borders can be challenging for experienced shippers and novices alike. But it’s vital to today’s global supply chains, a process you need to master to make the most of facilities around the world. Learn everything you need to know about paperwork, drayage carriers, customs and more, and find out how a 3PL can help you cross borders with ease.

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Shipping Strategy Resources

Frequently Asked Cross-Border Shipping Questions

What’s the difference between through-trailer and transloading?


Through-trailer and transloading are your two main service options when crossing the border.

Through-trailer shipments use multiple drivers (typically one on either side of the border and a drayage drive to make the actual crossing), but they move a single trailer the entire way. Transloading uses multiple drivers as well, but it also involves off-loading your freight at the border and reloading it into a new trailer.

Learn more about these two options and choose the one that’s right for you.

What paperwork do I need to ship freight over the border?


There’s no one single set of paperwork you need to cross the border; the full set of documents you’ll need depends on which border you’d like to cross.

Generally speaking, though, there are some common documents that you’re likely to need for any cross-border move. You’ll probably need at minimum a bill of lading, a commercial invoice, carrier information and a certificate of origin for your freight.

Is this already starting to feel complicated? Our best advice is to get a good customs broker to keep all the paperwork in order for you.

How do I choose a reliable cross-border provider?


The most valuable tool your cross-border provider can possess is knowledge.

They should know about the freight market, about the legal requirements of the border crossing or crossings you need to management, about the paperwork involved, and about every other aspect of the process.

Here is a five-step framework you can use to be sure you’re working with a cross-border provider who knows their stuff. Follow it, and you’ll find out how to get procurement and operations on the same page, assess which service option is best for you, find CTPAT providers, build long-term-relationships and get the most out of a 3PL.

More Resources for Shippers Like You

Cross-Border Shipping Guide: Mexico

Get details for shipping into and out of Mexico, including important paperwork, how to choose a customs broker and differences between northbound and southbound shipping

Cross-Border Shipping Guide: Canada

Find out everything you need to know to ship cross-border in and out of Canada. Be sure to establish an importer of record, preclear your shipment and avoid common mistakes.

5 Risks of Cross-Border Shipping

Learn what to look out for when moving freight across the border. This article focuses on Mexico, but its lessons are important for all cross-border shippers.