Every day, billions of dollars worth of goods cross our borders. With the correct paperwork and adherence to regulations, commercial border crossing can be a smooth process. Whether shipping from the US to Canada or vice versa, understanding and following the necessary steps ensures successful delivery.

Key Documents and Codes for Commercial Border Crossing

1. SCAC and Canadian Carrier Code:

This four-digit code is mandatory for all carriers transporting goods to and from Canada.

2. Cargo Control Document (CCD):

This document, which can be a manifest, waybill, or other approved form, covers the transportation of the shipment.

3. Commercial Invoice:

This invoice details the buyer, seller, country of origin, price paid, detailed description of the goods, and quantity. The description must be specific and cannot use vague terms like “FAK.”

4. Bar Code:

Carriers should print and attach a barcode to the documents. This barcode includes the Canadian Carrier Code number and a unique number for the specific shipment.

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5. PARS – Pre-Arrival Review System:

This barcode label is used for loads originating in the US and delivering in Canada. It allows the carrier to submit minimum documentation information to the CBSA for review and processing before the shipment arrives at the border.


Submit at least one hour before arrival.


Submit at least two hours before arrival.

Border Crossing image

6. PAPS – Pre-Arrival Processing System:

This barcode label is used for loads originating in Canada and delivering in the US.

  • Attach the PAPS label to the invoice.
  • Fax a copy to the customs broker at an agreed-upon time before arrival at the border.
  • The US customs broker prepares the entry in advance.
  • The carrier arrives at the border with the original paperwork, which is then scanned and either cleared or sent to secondary inspection if required.7.

7. Manifest:

This is a new, virtually paperless process for importing goods into Canada.

8. Customs Broker:

While not required, customs brokers can be hired to assist the importer with paperwork and other related tasks.

Essential Paperwork

Click the following links to view documents

1. Inward Cargo Manifest
2. Canada Customs Invoice

This guide is a basic overview, and there are other methods for importing goods beyond those listed here. For more detailed procedures, you may consult the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).