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Proven strategies to help cut freight costs, optimize transit times and achieve customs compliance, created by Universal Logistics, a full service provider of services for importers and exporters.

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Sooner or later, your business will be audited by Customs (CBSA) to ensure you have not committed violations that are subject to AMPS (Administrative Monetary Penalty System) penalties.

Make sure you are ready by:

  • maintaining a documented paper trail of every import/export shipment from purchase order to delivery
  • ensuring all customs declarations, generated from information on the shipping documents, mirror your internal ledgers (i.e. your reporting to Customs must reflect commercial reality)
  • keeping all records relating to customs transactions for the prescribed time limits (six years plus current year)
  • We offer professional customs consulting services to assist you in becoming fully compliant. Remember, investing in compliance is always less costly than paying for non-compliance.

    Can't wait until you have enough freight to load a full container? Take advantage of consolidated services to lessen the cost, while maintaining a weekly shipping schedule.

    Have a hot rush truck shipment that can't be late? Hire an exclusive load, regardless of the actual shipment size, and have a truck make a freight delivery that is exclusively for you.

    Protect your business interests by ensuring you understand what is covered by your cargo insurance policy – and what is not. Without proper insurance, even one loss can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

    You can choose from three basic levels of coverage:

  • Institute Clause A (widest insurance coverage & highest premium);
  • B (more restrictive coverage & moderate premium); and
  • C (most restrictive coverage & lowest premium)
  • Be sure to review the coverage in place for your shipments and ensure it is adequate for your needs.

    For more information see our Terminology In Depth section on Cargo Insurance.

    Whether you are buying or selling, negotiating favourable commercial terms of sale is the most effective way to cut costs and optimize transit times.

    The word "Incoterms" is an abbreviation of International Commercial Terms. Incoterms are the key element of international contracts of sale as they indicate whether the seller or buyer is responsible for:

  • Arranging for carriage of the goods from seller to buyer
  • Paying of the freight charges
  • Transferring risks from the seller to buyer, and
  • Performing export and import customs clearance
  • The wrong term is used almost 30% of the time, resulting in misunderstandings that almost inevitably lead to additional costs, most often for unwanted services.

    For more information on Incoterms visit the International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC) website at, and for a complete list of Incoterm definitions including a chart of buyer and seller responsibilities, see Universal's Incoterms 2010.

    CREEEPSS is an acronym that stands for Culture, Religion, Education, Economics, Environment, Politics, Social and Special characteristics.

    All of these points factor in to how business is done internationally. For example, you should know:

  • In Italy, production facilities often close down for the entire month of August
  • In Hong Kong, it is very common to work on Saturdays
  • Chinese New Year is observed in February or March
  • U.S. Independence Day falls on July 4th, while Canada Day is celebrated on July 1st
  • Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October; in the U.S. it is celebrated in November
  • Original Bills of Lading are a good way to ensure immediate payment of your merchandise on shipments where you do not have an established credit arrangement with your client.

    However, once proper credit terms have been agreed upon there is very little need for originals. By changing the bill of lading from "original" to "express" you save the costs of international couriers and eliminate potential delays in the delivery of your freight.

    Want to see all the Quick Tips? Contact Us to book our Quick Tips Seminar.

    Quick Tips

    Tip #59 – Know what information is required under ACI

    Under the Advance Commercial Information (ACI) initiative, the following information must be transmitted electronically to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) prior to shipment arrival:

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