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Paperwork Problems


Your Customs Broker has rejected the paperwork for a shipment that is en route to the border.

As a result, the shipment cannot be cleared until the paperwork has been fixed.


  1. The carrier has just called to advise us that the Customs Broker has rejected the paperwork, and the truck is headed toward the border.
  2. The carrier needs either acceptable paperwork or, if the paperwork can’t be fixed in time, guidance regarding either putting the freight In Bond or where to drop off your freight before reaching the border, so the truck can keep moving.
    One of only 4 possible outcomes is about to occur:

    • You will correct the paperwork deficiencies before the truck arrives at the border, and the truck will carry on as normal;
    • The deficiencies will not be fixed before the truck arrives at the border and the truck will sit at the border, at your cost, until you correct the paperwork;
    • The carrier will, if it is Bonded to do so, put your freight In Bond, and your freight will be held, at your cost, at a Bonded facility until you correct the paperwork; or,
    • Absent the ability to contact you or your ability to correct the deficiencies, and lacking the option to put your freight In Bond, the carrier will drop your shipment (LTL of Full Load), at your cost, at a location of the carrier’s choosing, and will proceed without it.
      You have literally only a limited and ever-decreasing amount time to affect the outcome. And it might be 3 a.m. on Saturday night / Sunday morning.
  3. We will ask the carrier for details about the paperwork, the truck’s location, and the reasons given by the Customs Broker for rejecting the paperwork. They could be, or could include:
    • The quantities on the Bill of Lading and the Commercial Invoice or other document are different.
    • The freight descriptions on the Bill of Lading and the Commercial Invoice or other document are different.
    • The freight description or Harmonized Code information is incomplete or incorrect.
    • The value of the freight is missing or seemingly incorrect.
    • The shipper’s / receiver’s IRS number is missing.
    • A required permit is missing.
    • The Veterinary Inspections required for FDA / CFIA clearance have expired.
    • Your address does not match the address for you that is on file.
    • The Customs Broker’s name is not on the documents.
  4. We will call the Customs Broker to confirm the problem, and to make arrangements for you to call or e-mail them. You Customs Broker will need to hear from you or another person who has the corporate authority to submit and modify documents. Unlike the “good old days”, post-9/11, Customs will not accept paperwork changes from carriers or freight brokers, like Copper Run.
  5. We will attempt to reach you, by telephone and/or e-mail, we will tell you what your Customs Broker needs to clear the freight, we will tell you how to contact them, and we will tell you they need to hear from you ASAP.
  6. We will also tell you that, in the event to paperwork problems cannot be fixed, your freight will not cross the border, which means that either your freight will be either off-loaded from the truck and dropped at your expense at an en route warehouse, the truck will be held short of the border, or the freight will be put In Bond. All of these are delaying and expensive fall-back options.
  7. We will advise the Customs Broker that they are going to hear from you soon, and we will ask that they call us if there are any additional problems, and that they call the carrier when the clearance has been submitted.
  8. If we are unable to reach you, we will message you that, after you have spoken with the Customs Broker, you confirm with us that the Customs Broker is able to proceed with the clearance based on the information you have provided.
  9. We will then advise the carrier of the arrangements we have been able to make.


Paperwork problems are always avoidable.

Legally-required Customs paperwork is very detailed, and requires a substantial quantity of information that must be accurately and precisely reported. However, there are no ‘trick’ questions and, with a bit of preparation and diligence, the paperwork can be correctly completed.

Paperwork problems go directly to the person responsible for preparing your Customs paperwork: they the predictable and unavoidable result of unwarranted haste, and/or poor training, and/or incorrect information, and/or inattention to detail. If you have any questions regarding the preparation of customs documentation, either in general, or for specific shipments, your Customs Broker will usually be happy to guide you.

Copper Run strongly recommends that you automatically call your Customs Broker whenever you have any uncertainty regarding Customs classification or documentation. It is always better to sort these matters out during business hours with all of your resources available to you, than during that solitary 3 a.m. telephone call.


Provided that we are alerted to the problem early enough, and that we can reach you quickly enough, and that you are able to provide the information your Customs Broker requires soon enough, there may be no delay or other impact. This happens in about 50% of cases.

If we cannot reach you in time, or if your Customs Broker slips into after-hours mode, or if there are any delays in the paperwork correction process, there will be delivery delays and accessorial charges. The delays could range from a few hours to a few days, and the charges could range from $200 to $1,000 or more.