Industry Spotlight: The Current State of Cross-Border Hauling

As peak shipping season arrives, cross-border hauling continues to pick up. Current supply chain volatility, driver shortages, strict regulations and vaccine mandates are all causing more pressure for the U.S. trucking companies and shippers moving freight across North American borders.

What are the factors impacting cross-border freight?

For shippers, exporting goods to the United States is already a complicated process. Things are further complicated by a number of issues impacting both domestic and foreign-based drivers and trucking companies.

Cross-Border Hauling Regulations

The U.S., Canada and Mexico all have their own regulations that apply to drivers and companies carrying international freight across North American borders. These strict regulations change frequently and cause confusion for drivers looking at loads and lanes.

To avoid the hassle of international driving, drivers will sometimes unload their freight at the border where it will be loaded into a truck from the destination country. But with international driver shortages, more shippers are having to rely on international hauling.

In the U.S., there are multiple requirements for hauling freight into the country as a foreign driver which must be followed. For example, drivers entering the U.S. with foreign freight must go directly to their destination. They also cannot pick up and deliver any domestic shipments within the U.S., but they can pick up domestic freight to haul it internationally.

The long list of regulations varies by country, and while they are great for monitoring cross-border trade and safety, they do tend to cause delays and long delivery times because of tedious customs inspections at each border.

Vaccine Mandates

Starting in January 2021, non-citizen drivers entering the U.S. from Mexico or Canada will be required to show proof of vaccination. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, paper or digital proof will be accepted. The mandate is proving bittersweet, as the announcement came with the welcomed news of lifted travel bans which will help increase tourism and help local economies, especially in border communities.

However, in a supply chain that is already struggling with driver shortages and shipping delays, the mandate may negatively impact the number of loads coming from Mexico and Canada and cause even more delays as shippers struggle to find drivers to haul their loads into the U.S.

Supply Chain Uncertainty

Over the past few years, supply chain logistics and performance have been chaotic and unprecedented. The volatility has placed further stress on cross-border freight hauling. The stress can be attributed to many factors, including:

  • High market spot rates
  • High shipping demand
  • Tight capacity across all truck types and hauling methods
  • Severe port congestion
  • Driver shortages
  • Truck and truck part shortages
  • COVID-19 precautionary restrictions
  • And more

Overall, the unpredictable nature of the current supply chain only feeds into the already stressful nature of cross-border hauling.

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