Tips for Shipping Across the Mexico Border

Does your business have the knowledge and resources to manage cross-border shipping effectively? Review these five critical questions to ask before booking your next load across the Mexico border.

1. Has my forwarding agency completed all the appropriate paperwork on time? Businesses shipping from Mexico to the United States, or vice versa, need a forwarding agency in each country to manage the importing process.

Depending on which country is importing the goods, the appropriate forwarding agency should complete all required paperwork, make payments, and finalize other requirements well before the shipment reaches the border. Without the right documentation, loads can be delayed by days at the border, creating costs for shippers and carriers.

2. Can I track my shipments along the entire journey? Visibility remains a struggle when moving freight between Mexico and the United States because it typically entails multiple handovers between carriers, which can create confusion and the potential for delays.

And once that freight crosses the border, language barriers, cell phone incompatibilities, and other issues often cause it to fall into a black hole, leaving businesses uncertain if their goods are secure and on track to meet delivery requirements.

Cargo robberies have also risen by double digits in Mexico in recent years. To mitigate risk, seek out partners who offer the capabilities to stay in close contact with carriers.

3. Do I know if my freight is being transloaded or traveling directly? Say you move freight from Detroit to Mexico City. Depending on the carrier, your vehicles could either remain on the same trailer with the same driver for the entire journey (direct with a B1 driver), remain in the same trailer the entire way but switch drivers (direct), or be unloaded at the border and reloaded with a new driver and equipment (transloaded). The problem is, many shippers don’t know the difference between these methods and many carriers aren’t likely to tell you.

While shipping direct with a B1 driver can improve efficiency and security, it’s typically more expensive than other methods. When booking a load, ask the carrier how it plans to handle the freight and how pricing differs for various methods. A trustworthy carrier will know the difference and be willing to explain exactly what will happen to your freight.

4. Is my carrier C-TPAT certified? Established after 9/11, C-TPAT certification is designed to ensure all cargo entering the United States is secure. While getting certified involves substantial paperwork for carriers, those that receive the certification can typically move through border crossings much more efficiently. Verify whether your carriers are C-TPAT certified to avoid delays and complications.

Also check their safety records, licenses, and references. Tracking down this information for Mexican carriers can be difficult, so seek out a partner that can help manage carrier vetting and screening for your loads.

5. Do my products have specific shipping needs? Shipping valuable products such as pharmaceuticals and electronics is typically expensive and complex. Shipments usually require an armed guard, carriers need hefty insurance policies, and C-TPAT certification is non-negotiable. These requirements can narrow the field of qualified carriers considerably, especially for specific routes or time-sensitive deliveries.

When planning your loads, consider product-specific requirements and how you’ll source the right carriers. In particular, loads often aren’t insured for the portion of the journey in Mexico, so verify this and pay for additional insurance if needed. A partner with a wide carrier network can help you source capacity based on your specific needs.

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