It’s a good time to evaluate border crossing procedures, Dent says at Driving for Profit seminar

by Canadian Shipper

WINDSOR, Ont. — For the first time since 9/11, there has been a ‘leveling off’ of new security programs at the border, presenting carriers with a good opportunity to evaluate and improve their border crossing procedures, according to Debbie Dent of the Panalpina Group.

She made the remark yesterday during the second stop of the Driving for Profit seminar series, hosted by NAL Insurance and KRTS Transportation Specialists and sponsored by SelecTrucks.

“We are in a holding pattern,” Dent said, of the seemingly constant influx of new border security programs that have been put in place since 9/11. “This is a prime time to look at how you’re doing business and how you should be doing business (at the border). It’s time to start taking challenges and turning them into opportunities.”

For starters, Dent said carriers that are FAST-approved should be pressuring their customers to take part in the program. While driver and carrier involvement in FAST has been high, there’s still a reluctance among shippers to become FAST-approved, she noted.

“If one of those elements (driver/carrier/freight) is not there, you can’t take advantage of that dedicated lane,” she pointed out.

Dent also suggested carriers encourage their drivers to become FAST-approved and to develop contingency plans for drivers that lose their FAST card. She recalled the story of one driver who failed to declare several bottles of booze he purchased at duty-free. That’s an automatic three-year suspension of FAST privileges, she said.

“That’s huge. Now you’ve got to find a way to defer that driver.”

Dent also offered carriers some tips on how to survive a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) audit. She suggested pulling 10 random files and conducting a self-audit to get an idea of whether or not your fleet is in compliance.

“Every day, we see and hear of carriers that have issues with their business records,” said Dent.

She suggested checking to ensure: Bills of Lading have been signed; Customs cargo documentation has been stamped; lists of drivers and equipment are up to date; and that all items acquired outside Canada have been declared including truck repairs.

Dent said one carrier incurred $88,000 in fines because its drivers didn’t know to declare tire purchases and emergency repairs conducted in the US. It’s a $100 penalty for each repair or purchase that wasn’t declared at the border, she pointed out.

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