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CAMBRIDGE, Ont. - Making documents and shipping information more visible to customers is great, but sometimes everyone would like nothing better than to move the paperwork that drives commerce out of ...


CAMBRIDGE, Ont. – Making documents and shipping information more visible to customers is great, but sometimes everyone would like nothing better than to move the paperwork that drives commerce out of sight, into the background.

Nowhere is this more desirable than at border crossings, where seemingly minor paperwork errors can tie up driver, equipment and load for hours or even days.

This May, Challenger Motor Freight of Cambridge, Ontario was granted approval as a Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) carrier under a program launched by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

CSA speeds approved carriers’ northbound trucks across the border into Canada by having the parties to a shipment pre- and co-approved and registered with the CCRA, thus removing the need for manual clearance.

Traditionally, shipments would be cleared manually at the border. With the development of the Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) paperwork could be faxed from the shipper’s facility to the customs broker, allowing much of the paperwork to be processed before the driver’s arrival at the border. If the shipment could not be cleared with PARS, the trucker would take his paperwork to a broker, have his CCRA entry completed and then wait his turn in the customs office for approval before the shipment could be released.

“This is a very drawn-out process that could take hours,” says Karen Gallant, Challenger’s customs administrator, who notes that, “As we speak, they are looking at how to harmonize the systems for both Canadian and U.S. shipments. We are trying to streamline our processing at customs so there are no service failures; e.g., with just-in-time deliveries.”

Challenger carries a lot of supplies for the automotive sector, which is very involved in the CSA process. Gallant notes that, “Many of our other clients are in the application stage. It is a good selling feature.”

The CSA approval process is very rigorous, says Gallant. “Challenger had to demonstrate its business processes could comply with the CSA requirements … A CSA load (comprises) of just three bar codes; no paperwork is faxed to the broker: The first bar code uniquely identifies the CSA-approved carrier; the second one uniquely identifies the importer of record and specified products; the third uniquely identifies the driver under the Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP).”

Under the CSA program an importer of paper cups, for example, orders 20 skids of paper cups from the vendor, who then makes shipping arrangements through a CSA-approved carrier.

“When we pick (them) up, the importer’s CSA bar code is on the paperwork.” At the border the driver needs only to approach the customs booth, show his CDRP card, produce the carrier’s bar code and the bar code on the (importer’s) paperwork. The Customs official scans them and the driver is on his way.

“CSA is an improvement over FIRST because there is no paperwork at all or stamped paperwork at the border. By moving to gain CSA approval for us and our customers, we can offer them a faster and more efficient service,” says Gallant, adding Challenger will move approximately 100,000 shipments into Canada by year’s end.

Still, the system in which CSA works has a weak link: Although border crossings have electronically-equipped booths that process CSA loads, there are still no dedicated CSA customs booths or lanes. CSA drivers must still queue up behind manually-processed trucks. n

Ont. – Making documents and shipping information more visible to customers is great, but sometimes everyone would like nothing better than to move the paperwork that drives commerce out of sight, into the background.

Nowhere is this more desirable than at border crossings, where seemingly minor paperwork errors can tie up driver, equipment and load for hours or even days.

This May, Challenger Motor Freight of Cambridge, Ontario was granted approval as a Customs Self-Assessment (CSA) carrier under a program launched by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

CSA speeds approved carriers’ northbound trucks across the border into Canada by having the parties to a shipment pre- and co-approved and registered with the CCRA, thus removing the need for manual clearance.

Traditionally, shipments would be cleared manually at the border. With the development of the Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) paperwork could be faxed from the shipper’s facility to the customs broker, allowing much of the paperwork to be processed before the driver’s arrival at the border. If the shipment could not be cleared with PARS, the trucker would take his paperwork to a broker, have his CCRA entry completed and then wait his turn in the customs office for approval before the shipment could be released.

“This is a very drawn-out process that could take hours,” says Karen Gallant, Challenger’s customs administrator, who notes that, “As we speak, they are looking at how to harmonize the systems for both Canadian and U.S. shipments. We are trying to streamline our processing at customs so there are no service failures; e.g., with just-in-time deliveries.”

Challenger carries a lot of supplies for the automotive sector, which is very involved in the CSA process. Gallant notes that, “Many of our other clients are in the application stage. It is a good selling feature.”

The CSA approval process is very rigorous, says Gallant. “Challenger had to demonstrate its business processes could comply with the CSA requirements … A CSA load (comprises) of just three bar codes; no paperwork is faxed to the broker: The first bar code uniquely identifies the CSA-approved carrier; the second one uniquely identifies the importer of record and specified products; the third uniquely identifies the driver under the Commercial Driver Registration Program (CDRP).”

Under the CSA program an importer of paper cups, for example, orders 20 skids of paper cups from the vendor, who then makes shipping arrangements through a CSA-approved carrier.

“When we pick (them) up, the importer’s CSA bar code is on the paperwork.” At the border the driver needs only to approach the customs booth, show his CDRP card, produce the carrier’s bar code and the bar code on the (importer’s) paperwork. The Customs official scans them and the driver is on his way.

“CSA is an improvement over FIRST because there is no paperwork at all or stamped paperwork at the border. By moving to gain CSA approval for us and our customers, we can offer them a faster and more efficient service,” says Gallant, adding Challenger will move approximately 100,000 shipments into Canada by year’s end.

Still, the system in which CSA works has a weak link: Although border crossings have electronically-equipped booths that process CSA loads, there are still no dedicated CSA customs booths or lanes. CSA drivers must still queue up behind manually-processed trucks.


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