Quick international shipping guide for moving US Mexico loads – Northbound/Southbound

Some of the most difficult, confusing, and time-consuming loads you can handle are the ones going into or out of Mexico. 

You have the language, regulatory, customs and cultural barriers.  It can be daunting for those who have little or no experience in the border crossing process. 

We prepared a quick process international shipping guide for everyone moving both Northbound and Southbound loads.

Along with the processes below, we’ve also included key terms, few helpful links, including a calendar of US/Mexico holidays, and current wait times. 


Southbound Process

  • The US carrier delivers to cosignee in Laredo, which is typically a trucking company yard, trans-loading/cross-docking facility, freight forwarder, or customs broker. 
  • The load is then trans-loaded from the US carrier’s trailer to the Mexican carrier’s trailer.
  • The local delivery carrier transports the Mexican trailer to the customs broker’s yard.  In some cases, cargo is unloaded and inspected to prepare Mexican customs documentation.
  • Once US and MX customs paperwork is ready, the trailer is dispatched to the bridge for border crossing. The crossing carrier, also known as transfer, presents documents before US and MX customs authorities and  delivers the trailer across the bridge to the Mexican carrier’s yard in Nuevo Laredo. 
  • The trailer hits the Mexican carrier’s yard in Nuevo Laredo and is then dispatched (typically within 24 hours).
  • Always keep track on transit time from the dispatching point to the destination, as the lines at the bridge are long and border crossing can be a lenghty process.


Northbound Shipments

  • Mexican trucking company delivers the trailer at its yard in Nuevo Laredo and notifies the Mexican and US customs brokers.
  • Once the customs paperwork is finished, the freight broker contacts the Mexican carrier to send a messenger to pick up the “Pedimentos” (Customs Entry Form).
  • The US broker sends the pre-file manifest via e-mail to the Mexican carrier.  Now that US and MX documents are on hand, the trailer is ready to border crossing.
  • Mexican crossing company transports the trailer (typically within 24 hours) to the shipping destination in Laredo.
  • The freight broker sets up a US carrier to arrive for pick-up when the trailer crosses into Laredo.
  • US driver arrives at the pick-up location in Laredo, the freight is trans-loaded onto the US trailer and the driver dispatched to deliver to US consignee.


Key Terms for Mexican Loads

Through-trailer service: Cross-border shipments into or out of Mexico where the commodities being transported stay on the same trailer from beginning to end. 

Transloading: Using forklifts or cranes to transfer commodities from US open deck trailers to Mexican open deck trailers.

Cross-docking: Using forklifts across a dock to move pallets from a US trailer to a Mexican trailer. 

Local Delivery: A movement within the Laredo area, such as: from the trailer drop, trans-loading, or cross-docking facilities to the customs broker.

Border Crossing: Drayage from the customs broker to the Mexican carrier's yard. 

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