Having a strong supply chain logistics process has repeatedly proven to be a strong competitive advantage for manufacturers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to provide challenges in getting products to customers. The importance of having a fully optimized logistics solution that focuses on cost, reliability, and predictability is especially crucial in the case of cross-border shipping.
This is even true in the case of shipping between Canada and the United States – two countries quite similar in culture, consumer behaviour, and language, but also having significant differences in their cross-border shipping laws, protocols, and requirements.
Cross-border Shipping Between Canada And The United States
Canada and the United States share the longest international border between two nations in the world. Additionally, it was reported in 2017 that 66% of the Canadian population live within 100 kilometers of that border.
This has created a valuable trade relationship between the two countries for which, due to many geographic, political, language, and other factors, shipping logistics has traditionally been a relatively simple matter. However, there are several key challenges that companies still face to ensure that their goods flow successfully across the 49th parallel to their destination.
Canada – U.S. Cross-Border Shipping Challenges
Compliance changes continue to create cross-border shipping challenges for Canadian and American importers, exporters, and manufacturers, due to evolving international trade regulations as well as an increased consumer demand for shorter and more accurate delivery times.
The more complex the supply chain, the more propensity for errors, delays, and other issues that can hamper the smooth cross-border flow of goods. Here are some of the top challenges we’re seeing:
- Different laws and regulations in each country: If you’re shipping between Canada, the United States, and/or Mexico, you should have a basic knowledge of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which came into effect in July 2020. Although the spirit of the agreement is fairly simple, the details surrounding customs compliance, taxes, handling of goods, and other rules are quite complex. Cross-border shippers should secure the advice of legal counsel or logistics professionals to ensure they meet every guideline as it pertains to their shipping destination.
- Maintaining an international network: When you ship across the border, you’ll have to manage relationships with an entire network of suppliers, trucking companies, warehouses, customs services, and other contacts crucial to getting your goods to their destination. If you need to make changes within your supply chain, you might have to call on one or more of these suppliers for support. This means taking the time to nurture these relationships, so you can be sure they’ll be able to help you when you need it.
- Difficulty managing international operations: Many companies operate corporate offices on both sides of the border to help keep control of their supply chain. However, running an international location also carries significant costs and added complexity in managing its human capital, as well ensuring that both your locations are compliant with local operational and tax regulations.
- Differences in handling dangerous goods: Although there has been progress toward the shipping of hazardous materials (defined as any substance or material that is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce), there are still differences in how they are transported, labelled, and otherwise handled in Canada and the USA. Keeping on top of these regulations can be confusing and time-consuming, especially when changes need to be made to your system.
- Conforming to individual provincial regulations: Unlike in the United States, where the Federal Department of Transportation establishes and oversees interstate trucking regulations for the entire country, individual provinces and territories in Canada make regulatory decisions for their own jurisdictions. Everything from weights, dimensions, and safety features must be considered when shipping into Canada, depending on the individual point of entry.
- Driver management: It’s been estimated that Canada will be short 25,000 truck drivers by 2023. The shortage is also being felt in the United States, causing transportation managers concern on both sides of the border. Some of this may be the result of companies paying their drivers by the mile, which can mean drivers being reluctant to take on cross-border loads due to long, unpaid waiting periods at the border. In any event, filling the demand is a time-consuming endeavour for many companies.
Integrating a 4PL Solution Into Your Cross-Border Supply Chain
Cedric Millar’s 4PL supply chain solution can help minimize the challenges faced by cross-border shippers by identifying key optimization areas that will help keep your products moving to their destination.
Our extensive network of suppliers across North America means we can secure reliable, cost-effective transportation service providers that can easily scale or deftly pivot as your needs change.
We also take regulatory concerns away from you by keeping up to date with international shipping regulations, so your shipments will always be in compliance when crossing the border.
A 4PL solution from Cedric Millar offers numerous benefits that combine the best people, technology, and business intelligence to meet any supply chain requirement. If your company’s growth plan involves shipping across the Canada – U.S. border, the services of a 4PL supplier is integral to reaching your objectives.
If you’re interested in learning how Cedric Millar can significantly transform your current supply chain into a more sustainable, flexible model, we’d love to chat with you. Just contact us at 1-888-998-1009 or via email at email@example.com anytime for a no-obligation discussion.