The industrialized North American economy continues to grow, and multinational companies (MNCs) rely on cross-border knowledge to gain a competitive advantage. This means ensuring a smooth transition of talented transferees across the border. Canada and the United States enjoy the largest trading relationship in the world and close to 400,000 people cross the shared borders each day for varied purposes.
Canada is the strongest ally of the United States and the two countries have forged a strong relationship to boost trade, economy, and security. Canada’s population is concentrated along the U.S. border, but this border is long (5,525 miles) and each country has different rules and regulations governing the movement of goods and people across the border.
Canadian migration has generally been a small share of immigration to the United States, historically fluctuating according to economic factors in the two countries. As of 2016, about 783,000 Canadians lived in the United States. On the flipside, there are between 900,000 and 2 million Americans living in Canada, either as full-time or part-time residents.
Cross-border moving is a much more involved process than a domestic move. You need experts that can help you navigate through customs documentation. A proper VISA that permits shipping of HHG along with 3 key forms (a 3299, Supplemental Declaration & Power of Attorney) are required to “get the wheels in motion”. The slightest error in paperwork can lead to a service failure, resulting in a trying experience for the transferee.
For vehicle shipping, you must complete clearance documentation for both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA). If you are moving your vehicle into the United States from Canada, then you need to meet U.S. emission standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced moving company that has knowledge and experience when it comes to managing cross-border moves and the associated requirements for the importation of vehicles.
A professional driver, with years of experience in both moving household goods and clearing customs is important for a successful cross-border move. According to the State Department, only 36% of Americans hold a passport. This creates an obvious challenge to find reliable drivers who not only are professional movers but can also clear the border with your belongings.
Another hurdle in securing a smooth cross-border move is the overall shortage of qualified drivers. Did you know that Canada maintains stricter requirements for driver background checks than the United States? For instance, a driver with a DUI conviction in the distant past may be allowed to work by U.S. standards because the crime was considered a misdemeanor, but Canada considers a first-offense DUI a felony, and will not permit that driver to cross the border. Therefore, it is important that cross-border moving companies rigorously select drivers whose spotless records comply with these requirements.
Firearms & Alcohol
Taking firearms across the U.S. or Canadian Border involves a complicated multistage process. There is a fundamental difference between U.S. and Canadian gun laws. Canada has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bringing a gun into the country. There are different Canadian government forms for different purposes, so you will need to make sure you get the right form to declare your firearms and ammunition at the Canadian border. An experienced cross-border moving company will have dealt with complex cases in the past and will be able to help your transferees clear customs with ease.
When it comes to importing alcohol, you need to contact provincial and territorial liquor control authorities depending on the quantities of alcohol you wish to import and where you want to enter into Canada. If the amount of alcohol you want to import exceed personal exemptions, you will be required to pay duty and taxes. In recent years, we have seen an increase in the shipping of alcohol, particularly with high-level executives that invest in wine collections. With knowledge and expertise, a good cross-border mover can help with even those high-profile transferees that have high value wine in tow.
Pro Advice Regarding Self-Hauling & Capacity
There are a couple criteria to look for, operationally, in a cross-border mover. They are:
2. Self-Hauling Service Model
These criteria are closely connected and are the reason why many moving companies struggle with being efficient at cross-border moving and therefore end up subcontracting their shipments for other agents to haul on their behalf.
Having volume (shipment bookings) means constantly having “back weight” so drivers are never held up in a location, north or south of the border, because of a lack of shipments to get them repositioned. Having the fleet constantly moving is a key to self-hauling and in turn allows for shorter transit times for your transferees. Only work with cross-border movers that can verify volume (cross-border tonnage).
Please note, it is important to evaluate service delivery at the agent level, not the van line level. Van lines subcontract to agents to perform the hauling. The individual agents are those that actually control the drivers and rolling stock that are hauling your transferee’s goods. Look for a large cross-border hauler that self-hauls. They should be able to provide you with a driver and fleet inventory (with DOT numbers) to validate that you are indeed “dealing with the source” and not getting subcontracted service. All reputable agents will also have a major van line affiliation.
Quality Move Management (QMM) is Bristol’s valued move management partner based in Canada and an expert on U.S./Canada cross-border logistics. We are grateful for their partnership and for providing the valuable information contained in this article!