The Hardened Border Between Canada and the US Over the Last Decade and the Effect on Transportation
Since that infamous day on September 11, 2001 there have been many changes at the border between Canada and the United States to improve security. Many of these changes had profound impacts on the transportation industry, in particular trucking companies, who are on the front lines of border crossings every day.
Electronic Notification Systems
In 2004, the transportation industry saw significant changes in their operations. They were required to electronically notify the border prior to arrival. Then, at least 1 hour prior to arrival. This does not seem like a big deal. However, when you consider that the majority of the Canadian population lives within 2 hour’s drive of the US border, you can see the problem. Carriers had to be able immediately transmit shipment data to customs since they didn’t have the information until the truck was loaded. Further, fines were imposed if carriers showed up in error without sending the notification. Since the initial implementation of this system, requirements for compliance have continually become more stringent and tolerance for non-compliance has become almost non-existent.
This has become a huge administrative burden for carriers. They have to take the shipment information on pickup. Fax/scan/email it back to the office where a clerical person sends it off to customs and then receive back a receipt from customs that the shipment is cleared to proceed to the border. This all has to happen within a very small window of time. This puts a tremendous strain on carriers both in terms of clerical and IT support to make this happen in a short time window. You can only imagine the cost to a carrier in terms of clerical labour, lost driving time for the driver waiting for the OK to proceed to the border, and IT support to electronically capture and transmit this data in a timely fashion.
FAST, C-TPAT, PIP and other Pre-Qualification Systems
The border pre-qualification systems while not mandatory, made it almost impossible for a carrier to be competitive in the marketplace without being a part of these programs. While the idea is to streamline inspection time at the border, the cost of compliance with these programs is borne by the carriers. From background checks on their drivers to gates, cameras and heightened security measures at their facilities; carriers spend from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on security measures to become compliant with these systems.
Driver pre-qualification through FAST cards to increase security has also been a huge burden on the trucking industry. Drivers have to go through security screening and there is a cost associated with obtaining and renewing the cards. Carriers also have to have an administrative system to track and monitor their driver’s compliance and currency with their FAST cards.
The Effect on Transportation
Security initiatives, while necessary, clearly have the effect of significantly impacting the costs and operations of trucking companies required to meet these requirements on a daily basis. The shipping public is generally one-step removed from these programs and typically, does not appreciate the cost impact on their carriers as border regulations change. Many of these costs can be mitigated by working with your carriers to share data, stream-line paperwork and reduce errors.
Here at DSN Chemical Transportation, we’re transborder experts! We’ve been moving shipments across the border for over 25 years and can help you get your freight moving while controlling your costs. Give us a call for a consultation on your transborder shipments today.
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