As a US trucking company, obtaining your Canadian authority will increase your load opportunities, by giving you access to new markets, more freight, new lanes, and a variety of loads. It’s no doubt that it is an attractive option for many US based carriers.

A few years ago, we featured a “how to” post on obtaining your Canadian authority. A lot has changed since we originally presented it back in 2012, and we need to revisit this topic so we know we are providing our carriers and the industry with the most relevant and up to date information.

Here are the steps you need to complete to obtain your Canadian authority.

  1. Perform Driver Checklist: 

First off, if you are a carrier company with multiple drivers, assess your individual driver’s willingness to cross the border, and offer training for the procedure. All drivers that cross into Canada will need the necessary personal documents on hand:

  • Valid Passport. Remember, citizens of Mexico no longer need a Visa or eTA to visit Canada by land, but you will need tobring the right travel documents.
  • A clean CDL record.
  • If applicable, their FAST Membership Card.
  1. Perform Equipment Checklist:

  • Weight Considerations: In general, GVW and axle weight limits are higher in Canada, so any equipment/load that complies with FMCSA regulations in the United States will be legal in Canada.
  • Length Considerations: Most U.S. trailer configurations are allowed in Canada, but the 10-ft, 1-in. axle spread is not admitted in western Canada. The overall length limit is 23 m or 75.5 feet. Some jurisdictions require permits for long wheelbase tractors pulling 53-ft trailers.
  1. Obtain a CBSA Code:

    Prior to entering into Canada, you will need to set up your company with the CBSA (Canada Border Service Agency) and apply for a carrier code. Highway carriers, regardless of how often they cross the Canadian border with commercial goods, are required to use a valid, CBSA-issued carrier code. A carrier code is a four-character unique identifier that is assigned by the CBSA to identify a carrier. Use of the generic carrier code 77YY was eliminated on March 31, 2011. The Carrier Code will be used in the PARS (Pre-arrival Review System). Carriers must have printed barcodes available to attach to all BOLs. Barcode stickers can be printed at any of the CBSA suggested companies.

  1. Obtain FAST Program Enrollment.

Check to see if you qualify for the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) program. The FAST Commercial Driver Program allows you to use FAST dedicated lanes in Canada and the United States (where available); cross the border with accelerated customs and immigration processing; transport eligible goods for FAST-approved carriers and importers. Check if you qualify, and apply at the

  1. Confirm Registration & Insurance Requirements:

    • Add the regions or states you will be crossing to your registration with the DMV of the state your truck belongs to.
    • Add the specific Canadian province/territory that you will be entering to your IFTA permits.
    • Acquire liability, cargo and reefer insurance.
    • Third party liability coverage for general freight has to be for a minimum of $1,000,000.00.
    • Cargo insurance (for hire carriers only) Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) up to 27,998 lbs or 12,700 kg’s require has to be for a minimum of $15,000; GVW up to 46,296 lbs or 21,000 kg’s require a minimum of $20,000; GVW up to 81,570 lbs or 37,000 kg’s require a minimum of $27,000; GVW in excess of 81570 lbs or 37,000 kg’s require a minimum of $32,000.
  1. Obtain IRP Vehicle Registration:

    Commercial vehicles traveling into Canada may be required to register. You can register using the International Registration Plan or purchasing Trip Permits in any jurisdiction in which you travel. The requirements and GVW thresholds vary between the jurisdictions. Jurisdiction registration and contact information is on the IRP website at

Once you have completed all the above steps and have your Canadian authority, it’s time to find a load and start travelling to Canada! Once you have your load, there are some further procedures at the border you will need to follow:

  1. EManifest:

With the implementation of eManifest, highway carriers transporting goods into Canada will be required to transmit cargo and conveyance data electronically to the CBSA a minimum of one hour before the shipment arrives at the border. To review the requirements for highway carriers, visit the CBSA’s site. To apply/access the eManifest portal, visit:

  1. PARS:

Once you have your load, put the PARS sticker on the load BOL’s and paperwork and send it to your broker for submittal to CBSA for customs clearance.

  1. Paperwork:

When you arrive at the customs booth, you must hand your documents to the customs officer. The eManifest lead sheet must be first, followed by your BOLs, with PARS barcodes attached. Remember that it is one PARS per shipper. 

  1. Hours of Service:

Canadian Hours of Service Regulations closely follow that of the FMCSA’s. There are some differences – Canada permits a 13-hour driving time within a 14-hour on duty time; in addition, they require 10 hours off duty time, which can be broken down into the mandatory 8 consecutive hours off duty, and a distribution of the other hours distributed throughout the day in blocks of no less than 30 minutes. For more details, visit

The process to obtain your Canadian authority is complex, but by following the steps above, it can be broken down into manageable steps. There’s a lot of information listed here, so please refer to the links to go into further detail on any of the steps. If you do obtain your Canadian authority, call our Sales team to update your lanes, and allow us to get to work on getting you a load!

Obtaining Your Canadian Authority – 6 Steps to Getting Across the Border was last modified: by