Cross-Border Shipping with Mexico

Today’s guest post is from Dick Locke. Dick, who has delivered seminars to over 100 companies across the globe, is a seasoned expert on International Sourcing and Procurement who wrote the book. (Here is the link to his archived posts.)

the doctor sent me this article from Inbound Logistics and wondered if I agreed. Well, mostly, but I think it overstates some difficulties. I operated an International Procurement Office in Mexico and we were able to get on-time delivery to our US customers in the 98% range over long periods of time … and that included supplier performance, cross border performance and logistics performance in two countries.

Some of the issues the article mentions are common in every country. Natural disasters are just one example. Every logistics network has to have backup plans when problems occur. And of course, when you’re operating in another country you have to have an open mind to doing things their way.

The article does have some good points:

* Exporting from Mexico requires using a Mexican customs broker. If you are moving goods to the US, you will probably want a US customs broker also, unless you want to have your own people at the border. Yes, that’s an extra step in the process.

* The border does jam up around Christmas as many expatriate Mexicans ship presents south.

* Of course you need to understand your country’s security related requirements, such as C-TPAT in the US.

* You should always avoid insuring every shipment and rely on a blanket policy

* You do need to keep track of goods crossing the border

But some is either overstated or applicable to any country, and some I disagree with.

* If you are shipping LTL there are several LTL logistics companies, all aimed at industry. DHL, Fed Ex and UPS as well as local Mexican companies such as Estafeta all do cross-border LTL work.

* You are not “guilty until proven innocent” under Mexican customs regulations any more than you are in the US or other countries. And the US has the same five year “statute of limitations” on customs errors … and it’s five years from your last import of a product.

* I wouldn’t ask a Mexican carrier to price services in US dollars. Fuel costs are in pesos as are nearly all of the carrier’s operating expenses. Asking to price in dollars will get you a higher price and possible attempts to renegotiate if the dollar weakens.

As an observation, the Mexican trucking industry is changing. Twenty years ago, it was a collection of small, independent1 truckers. Today there are bright, new, shiny trucks on the Mexican roads and large, serious logistics services available.

1 Extremely independent. Mexican truck drivers were the last of the wild west cowboys. A habit of stopping off overnight at what were euphemistically called “cantinas” made on time delivery really difficult. Times have changed.