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US-Canada Cross Border Freight Shipping: 5 Documents You Need

Zhenya Beck February 6, 2015
Canada and US flags symbolizing friendship and trade relationship between countries

You’re a US manufacturer looking to export your valuable widgets into Canada, or a Canadian getting your goods to the super-sized American market. You’re in good company; nearly $700 billion worth of goods gets shipped across the US-Canada border every year and every one of those shipments had paperwork. You’ve met 10,000 business challenges head-on before you ever got to this stage. The last thing you need is delays at the border over red tape.

Let’s go over the basic US-Canada cross-border shipping documents you’ll need:

  1. Bill of Lading (BOL)
    This document lists the goods that are carried in the shipment. Essentially, enter the address where the shipment is getting picked up, pertinent specifications like the size and weight and contact information. Freightera can generate a 3-part BOL (1 part each for the shipper, driver, and consignee on the other end), with fields for each person to sign.
  2. Proof of Delivery (POD)
    Essentially, this is the receipt portion of the BOL, which indicates that goods have been received in good order. The signature confirms the date and time of delivery. As soon as the carrier uploads a POD through Freightera, notification is sent to the shipper.
  3. Commercial Invoice (for shipping from Canada to the USA)
    This is effectively an invoice showing a full description of the shipped goods, including their value. One copy goes with the BOL and the other accompanies freight heading into the USA.
  4. Canada Customs Invoice (for shipping from the USA to Canada)
    One copy goes with the freight from where it is picked up to where it clears customs. A second copy is attached to the BOL.
  5. Certificate of Origin
    As you would expect, this document shows where the shipment is coming from, in order to ensure accurate collection of customs duties according to NAFTA regulations.

Dealing with Extra Regulations for US-Canada Shipping

In a security-focused era, cross-border shipping regulations have become so complex that they require the expertise of a full-time professional. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all of this on your own. If you’re shipping across the US-Canada border, you will use a broker. The broker should be well aware of regulations that may apply to specific kinds of shipments, helping facilitate this shipment with a minimum of red tape. As such, they may have certifications in some or all of these areas:

  • U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)
  • Partners in Protection (PIP)
  • Free and Secure Trade (FAST)
  • Certified Drivers
  • Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)
  • Advanced Commercial Information (ACI)
  • Customs Self Assessment (CSA)

About Freightera

Freightera makes US-Canada cross border freight shipping easier. Get tracking information, automatically generate shipping documentation and speed up your order. Do your next shipment stress-free! Visit Freightera.

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About The Author

Zhenya Beck is Freightera Co-Founder, leading Marketing and Product Development


  1. Dennis Johnson October 17, 2019 at 3:50 am

    If you include all the customs paperwork, do you need to have a customs broker to get across the border from the US to Canada?

    • Freightera October 17, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Hi Dennis,

      For USA to Canada cross border shipments, you do need to set up an account with a customs broker. If you don’t have a customs broker in mind, we can recommend you one – please write to us at, or call us at 1800 886 4870 ext 1. You can also chat with us by clicking the green chat button on the bottom right corner of our website.

      Please let us know if we can help you further! 🙂

      ~Team Freightera

  2. Confused February 3, 2020 at 7:57 am


    Was wondering if you present an ACE sheet to the border are they obligated to return it back to you?

    • Client Care February 3, 2020 at 8:02 am

      Hi Christina,

      I have forwarded your question to our team and they will email you with an answer soon!

      Please let us know if you have any other questions. You can chat with us here, email, or call us at (800) 886-4870 Ext. 1

      Have a good day!


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