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Freight Not Cleared, Now In Bond


For whatever reason, your northbound (U.S. to Canada) trans-border freight could not be cleared through Canada Customs at the border.

As a result, it was put “In Bond” to a convenient “inland” Sufferance Warehouse, or to the carrier’s own bonded compound, where it will await a later clearance before delivery.

It is also possible, but in only in extremely limited circumstances, to do the same with un-cleared southbound (Canada to U.S.) shipments, but there are significantly fewer holding/storage options, and a much less streamlined process.


  1. The carrier calls us to tell us the freight will not clear. We speak with your Customs Broker, and with you if we can reach you, to confirm this information.
  2. If the carrier is not “bonded”, i.e., approved by Canada Customs to transport uncleared freight within Canada while en-route to an inland clearance facility, the freight will have to remain on the truck in a gated compound at the border until a clearance can be processed.
  3. If the carrier is “bonded”, we will authorize, on your behalf, the carrier to put the freight in bond. This means that the freight will enter Canada and will keep moving, but it must be taken directly to an access-controlled facility that has been authorized by Customs, either a Sufferance Warehouse, or a compound maintained for that purpose by the carrier. The freight will remain there until it has been cleared by Customs. It cannot be accessed or delivered until it has been cleared.

    Not all ‘Freight In Bond’ situations occur as a result of a problem, or create an unplanned delay.

    Sometimes freight is put “In Bond” at the specific request of the customer: for example, “In Transit” bonds are used to move shipments physically through an en route country without clearing the freight in and out of that country (e.g., from Canada to Mexico through the United States).

    Sometimes a carrier may use an “In Transit” bond to route domestic freight through another country for purely operational or cost-saving reasons (e.g., from eastern Canada to western Canada via the northern United States, or from Michigan to Upstate New York via Canada.

    And a thrid operational “In Bond” example is product samples taken into a country on a “Temporary Importation Bond” , for display at a trade show, without the restriction that the goods be maintained in a controlled, restricted environment.

  4. We will work with you, with your Customs Broker, and with the carrier to get the “In Bond” freight cleared and delivered as quickly as possible. However:
    • The problem that initially caused the freight to be put in bond can only be resolved by you, the exporter / importer /owner, working with your Customs Broker.
    • The problem, however serious or trivial, will not go away on its own, and your delays and your costs will continue to mount until you do resolve the problem.
    • Once the freight has been cleared, the carrier will require a reasonable period of time, perhaps hours or perhaps days, depending on circumstances, to schedule a driver to pick up the freight from the bonded compound, and deliver it to its destination.
      It is worth nothing that queues of “In Bond” freight are always longer, always take longer to clear, and always wait longer to be retrieved and delivered after clearance, on Mondays and after long weekends.
  5. We will keep you advised of the additional fees that will be assessed. These will be charged for delays, for storage, for inland clearance, for demurrage, for out-of-route mileage, and for re-delivery


Delivery of the freight will be delayed by at least day, and as long as 3 days. Revised paperwork is often required.

  • If you have repeated Customs clearance issues, your account will be flagged and your shipments will be designated for extra attention. This will translate directly into added delays and costs.



In order to facilitate international freight flows, the Customs clearance process has been designed to be very efficient for shippers who do their preparation carefully and accurately. If correct and complete documentation is sent to Customs (via a Customs Broker) with the correct lead time, and there is nothing suspicions, then Customs will regularly require no more than a few seconds to process the truck and the shipment when it arrives at the border. These shipments are given priority processing and handling. Only a random inspection would delay the process.

On the other hand, the system is also designed to be intentionally slow, time-consuming, and expensive for shippers who do not have their paperwork and processes in order. These shipments are not given priority processing and handling, which makes it difficult for a carrier to plan in advance for their release and re-delivery.


The freight is put in bond and taken to an approved Sufferance Warehouse or bonded carrier compound. The freight is often released the next business day, except that shipments put in bond over the weekend usually take 2 – 3 days to be released. Delivery is typically same day or next day after release.

The charges assessed will typically be between $150 and $600. However, if the freight had to be held at a remote border location, charges can easily exceed $1,000.