No one wants to get pulled into Customs when trying to cross.

Not travelers. Not carriers. No one.

And you, as a shipper, don’t want your shipments pulled into Customs, either.

It’s not that Customs officers aren’t wonderful people that you’d like to spend more time with…

It’s a time delay that prevents you getting your products into your customers’ hands or, often worse, into their plants for their manufacturing processes.

It’s scary – scary enough, in fact, that the entire idea of getting pulled into Customs actually dissuades people from tapping into the vast U.S. market for their goods.

Don’t let it. Here’s why:

How to Not Get Pulled into Customs

The bottom line, having your shipments not be pulled into Customs is actually pretty easy, and the strategy is simple:

Do the right thing.

Shippers whose shipments are buttoned up and compliant are going to consistently have a more free flowing time at the U.S. border.

A lot is often said, conspiracy-level theories, about the priorities of U.S. Customs agents, and what their priorities are.

The truth is that their priority is to stop bad actors from entering the United States – whether those bad actors are using non-compliance, financial discrepancy or violence as their means of causing harm.

Do good, compliant shippers get pulled in sometimes? Sure. For any number of reasons.

But is that the goal of Customs agents? To put a target on people following the law? Nope.

So, how do you avoid being pulled into Customs the majority, if not all, of the time?

You do things right. Which includes:

Making sure your paperwork is detailed and filled out properly.

Ensuring that your clearances and any necessary Customs documents are compliant and ready.

Getting any required advance notice to the border before your stuff arrives.

When Customs agents find that you’ve given them what they’re expecting to see in a “normal” transaction… It will make your interaction with them so much easier.

Do the Right Thing AT CUSTOMS… Long-Term

One of the great things about becoming a cross-border shipper is that once you’ve done it, you can do it over and over again.

Opening the U.S. market, and learning how to do it, can be the same as opening the floodgates for your business.

And the more you ship – compliantly – the more familiar the U.S. Customs brokers will become with your company and your products.

That relationship is invaluable as a shipper.

It’s easily earned, by consistently doing things by-the-book over time.

Using the Right Carrier

customs, canam, cross border, way-bri expressThere are actually a few different relationships at play when your goods hit the U.S. border…

We’ve talked about the importance of your relationship, but there’s also the carrier you’re working with, as well as the driver.

All three of these relationships work together to tell U.S. Customs a story – that you’re a trusted shipper, and that your goods should be inducted into the commerce of the United States.

That’s important to consider when choosing a carrier to take your goods across, and one of the questions you should ask when recruiting one.

What’s their relationship with U.S. Customs?

How often do they get delayed, and why?

How long have they been doing Canada-U.S. shipping and vice versa?

For cross-border shipping, these aren’t just bullet points on a sales brochure – they’re real-life assets that you can, and should be using, for your own shipping.

Summing Up

The horror stories you hear about trucks and shipments getting pulled into U.S. Customs for further scrutiny, delay and even refusal are real – they can happen.

But they don’t happen to shippers who are doing things properly.

How do you become a shipper that Customs knows and trusts?

  • Do things right
  • Do things right… Consistently
  • Partner with a carrier who also does things right – and has been doing so for some time

You don’t need to be one of the horror stories.

And if you follow these three steps, the U.S. market is there to help you grow.


For more than 20 years, Way-Bri Express has been helping Canadian and U.S. companies optimize their import/export processes, and get their stuff reliably across the border. Want to talk (no strings attached) about your company’s cross-border frustrations? Set up a 15-minute Zoom call with us.


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