Canada FAQs

General Questions

Northbound Freight

Emailing Documentation

Southbound Freight

General Questions

Q. What documentation is required for Canada shipments?

A: The documentation required is dependent upon 1) the country of origin for the goods, 2) the total value of the shipment and 3) whether the freight is going from the U.S. to Canada or from Canada to the U.S. The following chart indicates which documents are appropriate.

Canada Documents

Document Northbound Southbound Purpose
Bill of Lading (BOL) Contract between shipper and carrier; include PRO and barcode (if possible) and customs broker's contact information
Canada Customs Invoice (CCI)
(required for Can$2,500 or more)
  • For NB shipments going into Canada
  • Accompanies shipment from pickup to customs clearance
  • May be used for any NB freight regardless of value, but required for Can$2,500 or more
Commercial Invoice
(if less than Can$2,500)

The bill of sale featuring all relevant shipping information
Certificate of Origin (CTO) or NAFTA CTO Used by customs broker to determine duty rates; NAFTA version used if claiming NAFTA status
Rapid Clear Form   Replaces CCI and BOL for occasional, simpler northbound shipments
Direct documentation requirement questions to the importer's customs broker.

Q. Where can I get Canada shipping forms?

A: Forms and instructions for shipping to and from Canada are available in our convenient Forms Library. You can also request copies from your local terminal.

Q. Do I need to arrange for a customs broker?

A: Yes, a customs broker is required in virtually every case, but it's usually the importer who chooses the broker. The importer can either be the consignee or a non-resident importer. If the importer does not have a broker for southbound freight, Estes has in-house U.S. Customs broker capabilities through Estes Forwarding Worldwide. You can reach them at 1-866-ESTES4U (378-3748) and press 45.

Q. How do I schedule a pickup for shipments to or from Canada?

A: The best way to schedule a shipment to or from Canada is to call your local terminal and request a pickup. You can also call 1-866-ESTES4U (378-3748), press 43, and choose the pickup option.

Northbound Freight

Q. What information should the Canada Customs Invoice contain?

A: The Canada Customs Invoice contains a description of the goods, the cost of each item and a total value as well as the country of origin. The Certificate of Origin can be a separate document, or the information can be included in the customs invoice. A totally complete Canada Customs Invoice is one of the best ways to achieve PARS clearance. It can be used for northbound shipments of any value, but it is required for shipments of Can$2,500 or more.

Q. What is PARS?

A: The Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) is used to process customs paperwork for each individual shipment before northbound freight reaches the U.S./Canada border. This helps the freight to cross into Canada much more quickly.

Q. How do I make sure my northbound freight will take advantage of PARS?

A: Submitting complete and accurate documents to the correct customs broker on a timely basis is critical in order for PARS to work. To submit your documents, scan them into one email attachment as a PDF or a TIF and email them to and provide a copy for the Estes driver at the time of pickup. (See the FAQ section on Emailing Documentation below.)

Q. What happens if my northbound freight doesn't clear PARS?

A: In the rare instance when freight doesn't clear PARS en route to Canada, it goes to a licensed sufferance warehouse in our network for temporary storage until the freight is released by Canada Customs. Canada sufferance bond fees will apply, which the importer in Canada or the non-resident importer in the U.S. must pay.

Q. How can I help ensure PARS clearance for my northbound freight?

A: The best way to help ensure that your freight clears the Canada border in a timely manner is to email a PDF or TIF of your customs documentation to us as early as possible and no later than the day of pickup. (For next-day Canada shipments, you must email your documentation no later than 2:00 p.m. the day of pickup.) An auto email box at is set up to automatically convert your documentation and transmit it to our PARS center as quickly as possible. Make sure that the first page of the document is the BOL with the PRO number (and barcode if possible) on it. Only one PRO per email is allowed.

Q. What is a Rapid Clear Form?

A: The Rapid Clear Form is a time-saving document that can simplify the paperwork needed to send occasional shipments northbound into Canada. Be sure to read the Rapid Clear instructions in our Forms Library carefully to determine if you'll need additional documentation for your shipment. If you're claiming NAFTA status, you'll still need to provide a NAFTA Certificate of Origin unless your customs broker already has a current version on file.

Q. When is it appropriate to use a Rapid Clear Form?

A: The Rapid Clear Form is most appropriate for occasional northbound shippers with less-complicated characteristics (e.g., freight origin is clear, there aren't a lot of different kinds of commodities, etc.). It takes the place of the Canada Customs Invoice and the straight Bill of Lading. A NAFTA Certificate of Origin may still be required when claiming NAFTA status.

Q. Where can I get a supply of Estes PRO number/barcode stickers for my northbound Canada shipments?

A: To obtain Estes PRO stickers, contact the local terminal personnel, or your Estes account manager will be glad to help you. Note that for fastest border-crossing service, the PRO number (and barcode if possible) should be on the first page of the scanned BOL when you email your northbound documentation to

Q. What is ACI?

A: Advance Commercial Information (ACI) is a project of the Canada Border Services Agency. ACI requires that all commercial cargo entering Canada be electronically registered with the Agency prior to arrival at the border. The project's aim is to improve Canada border security and efficiency.

Emailing Documentation

Q. How should I submit my customs documentation?

A: Simply email your northbound customs documentation—one PRO per email—in a single file (as a PDF or TIF) to, and provide a copy for the Estes driver at the time of pickup. We take it from there.

Q. When should I forward the documents to Estes for my northbound shipments?

A: Email your documents to as soon as you have them ready. However, they should be sent no later than the time of pickup and no later than 2:00 p.m. the day of the pickup for next-day freight. The following simple steps will help ensure that your shipment is processed in a timely manner:

  1. Putting the 10-digit PRO number in the subject line is not required, but may help you manage your email trails.
  2. Formats include either a PDF or a TIF.
  3. There can only be one PRO number per email. Make sure the PRO number (and barcode if possible) is on the first page of the BOL.
  4. Documents should be in one file, with the BOL as the first page (with the PRO number on it).
  5. Make sure the customs broker name and contact information are on the BOL.
  6. When you're sending an email to, don't put any shipment details in the body of the email since it's an automated inbox.
  7. Use this alternative email address for additional questions, comments or requests:

Q. Does the order of documentation matter when sending the email to

A: The first page of the document you attach to the email needs to be the Bill of Lading with
the PRO number (and barcode if possible) on it. The order of any additional documentation is
not as important.

Q. How many shipments can I include documentation for in a
single email?

A: Please only include one PRO in each email to

Q. If is an auto email box, will a message I send in the body of the email get to the right place?

A: The inbox is specially designed for the sole purpose of accepting customs documentation (in a single PDF or a TIF) and downloading it to the system. Any messages in the body of the email will not be read. To send a message to the Canada team, use, which is actively managed by our corporate team of Canada specialists.

Southbound Freight

Q. What is ACE?

A: ACE is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that gives CBP and other participating government agencies the ability to access data throughout the international supply chain to anticipate, identify, track and intercept high-risk shipments at borders and ports. With ACE, carriers are able to file electronic manifests in advance of freight arrival at the customs check point for faster entry into the commerce of the U.S.

Q. What is PAPS?

A: The Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) is the United States equivalent of PARS. PAPS allows customs paperwork for individual shipments to be processed before southbound freight reaches the Canada/U.S. border. This facilitates the freight's entry into the U.S.

Q. What happens if my southbound freight doesn't clear PAPS?

A: In the rare instance when freight doesn't clear PAPS en route to the United States, it goes to a licensed in-bond facility in the Estes network for temporary storage until it is released by U.S. Customs. U.S. in-bond fees will apply, which the importer typically pays.

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Fax: (877) 727-7878