How To Cross The Border With A Multiple Load Shipment

In a situation where a commodity is invoiced as a single transaction and it is an over-sized shipment such as a large building and or machinery that cannot physically be moved on one truck, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has a provision to handle multi-load moves with one invoice value. The industry terminology for this type of special entry is a Prime and Entered to Arrive (ETA) entry.

In these cases, the entire quantity of goods will be accounted for when the first shipment arrives, and the remainder will be processed as a paper release package for each load to follow. This means drivers carrying any parts or components for goods previously accounted for on one invoice will need to clear Customs against the original declaration previously provided to CBSA at the same port of entry as approved.

Step 1: Prepare The Required Carrier Documentation.

Each driver should have:

  1. a bill of lading and
  2. a packing list indicating all goods on board

These documents should be noted with a specific reference number being used to identify the original entry. Common examples would be the serial number, unit number, VIN number, PO number, Shippers number or any other number that is unique to the complete commodity.

In addition, the driver should note which load number they are of the total number of trucks needed to complete the delivery. For example: load 3 of 12.

The Importance Of A Bill Of Lading | Part 1

Step 2: Inform Your Customs Broker.

Next step is to notify your customs broker of your intent to cross the border. Indicate the

  • Port (this can only be a CBSA listed port on the CBSA approval form)
  • Estimated time of arrival (ETA) and
  • Phone number for the driver in the event the driver needs to be reached

Ensure that the same cargo control number that was used for the cargo transmission of the ACI eManifest is provided to your customs broker.

Have Components On Board For More Than One Prime Entry Or Have Extra Parts That Are Not For A Prime Entry?

In this case, the driver will need to generate for each list of items that will be specific to each prime entry:

  • separate bill of lading (BOL),
  • separate packing list and
  • separate CCN

for each list of items that will be specific to each prime entry.

Extra parts shipped with an Entered to Arrive (ETA) load that are not a part of an original transaction will also require a separate BOL, packing list, Canada Customs or commercial invoice indicating all information required for Customs and a separate CCN.


  • Drivers generally will not be provided any "invoices" for their load because the master invoice for the complete transaction would have already been declared to CBSA. More than likely, the driver will have a packing list, BOL, indication of what unit they have parts for, load number and CCN number. If the drivers have parts for more than one unit, they need to provide a separate list.
  • ACI eManifest compliant carriers will still be required to electronically file cargo and conveyance data one hour prior to arrival at the first port of entry.
6 Steps To Submitting Documentation To Your Customs Broker
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About Author
Cherie Storms
CCS (CA & US), CTCS, CBSA Prof. Designate

Cherie Storms is the Canadian Operations Manager with PCB Customs Brokers, with over 20 years in international trade operations and regulatory experience. Since joining the company in 2007, she has become an Executive Board Member for the Canadian Customs Brokers Society, BC Region, and spoke at the Women in Transportation Annual General Meeting in 2010 regarding her experience running international logistics for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Cherie is a member of CSCB's National Commercial Operations and eManifest Committee and sits on the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers' Board of Directors. In 2020, Cherie received the Emerging Leader award in the annual Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey Women in Business Awards. In her off time, Cherie is a motorsports driver for the Shift Up Now racing team, SCCA and CACC Women on Track Leader, racing tracks in Daytona and Indianapolis. With multiple championships, Cherie is a leader in the Jr Ambassador Program, encouraging young girls to excel in motorsports. Cherie has spoken at many seminars on the importance of trade compliance. She is currently enrolled in the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Business Management Program to become an international trade lawyer.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.