Canada | BNSF


We know that transporting goods between Canada, the U.S. and other countries can be challenging. That's why we're equipped with the people, technology, processes and know-how to make international freight transport efficient and effective. Here are a few ways we've made international shipments easier for our customers:

  • Contacts: Experienced professionals dedicated to the Canadian/U.S. transportation market are stationed in every major Canadian gateway, providing knowledge of local culture and unique local administrative requirements.
  • Customs Requirements: List of requirements designed to simplify the Canadian shipping experience.
  • Shipping Information and Processes: Instructions and resources to help move freight smoothly across the border, including step-by-step trans-border processes and car billing directions, descriptions of Rail AMS and the Customs In-Bond program.
  • Special Rail Service Alliances: Connections with industry leaders cover the country, including the Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) rail networks.

It is our commitment and revolutionary approach to service that has allowed us to serve our customers and meet all regulations with our governing partners.

Three-Year Canadian Rail Network Plan

Pursuant to Section 141 of the Canada Transportation Act, BNSF’s Three-Year Canadian Rail Network Plan is below. The plan indicates where on our line we intend to take steps to discontinue operations in Canada in the next three years.

BNSF Three-Year Canadian Network Plan

PARS/INPARS Filing Process

  1. Upon receipt of waybill information, BNSF will fax a Pre-Arrival Manifest to the appropriate broker and an electronic version to Canada Customs. This could be up to 30 days before the rail shipment physically arriving at the border.
  2. Brokers file a Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) or Inland Pre-Arrival Review System (INPARS) Release Package with Canada Customs upon receipt of the Pre-Arrival Manifest, or as soon as possible, using the appropriate port code as the release office.
  3. Once the broker has presented the PARS/INPARS Release Package to Canada Customs, BNSF receives an electronic acknowledgement verifying the Declaration Accepted.
  4. Upon train's departure, BNSF will fax a Train List of cars associated with each broker. This allows the broker to be aware of the location and estimated time of arrival at the border. BNSF will also fax a Post-Arrival Manifest to the appropriate broker at this time. File all PARS/INPARS Release Packages before the receipt of this notice. If the Release Package is not filed before receipt of notice, a PARS/INPARS entry to Canada Customs needs to be filed as soon as possible to eliminate the car being delayed.
  5. BNSF will electronically transmit an arrival notification to Canada Customs for all cars in the train two hours before the physical arrival at the port of entry.
  6. Canada Customs will electronically transmit a release/hold decision to BNSF upon receipt of the electronic arrival notice. Traffic with a release notification received will flow directly to the customer. Traffic for which no release decision has been received or a hold disposition code is received, the rail car will be stopped and held until a release is received or a physical examination is completed by Canada Customs.
  7. BNSF will send three faxes to the brokers:
    • Pre-Arrival Manifest
    • Train List showing cars associated to each broker
    • Post-Arrival Manifest

Important: Brokers filing a release on minimum documentation (RMD) before receiving the Post Arrival Manifest could result in an Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalty. Be certain that BNSF has reported the carloads to Canada Customs as having arrived.

Export and Import Requirements

  • Shipper's full name and address (actual owner [exporter] of the cargo from the foreign country)
  • Consignee's full name and address (party to whom the cargo will be delivered in the United States.)
  • Freight forwarder, notify party with full address
  • Broker
    • XQ - Canadian customs broker
    • XR - Mexican customs broker
    • XU - United States customs broker
    • Container/equipment number
  • Seal numbers
  • Container/equipment type
  • Load/empty status
  • Type of service code (20 for railroads)
  • STCC or harmonized number
  • Hazardous material information
  • Weight/weight unit
  • Piece count (quantity/units)
    (Quantity means the lowest external packaging unit; containers and pallets do not constitute acceptable information, i.e. container holding 10 pallets with 200 cartons should be described as 200 cartons)
  • Description of goods
    (FAK [freight of all kinds], general cargo and STC [said to contain] are not acceptable descriptions)
  • Foreign port
  • Export information code
  • Container length/height/width
  • Routing
  • In-bond information

Hazardous Material Shipments Requirements

  • Code
  • Class
  • Description
  • Contact
  • STCC number

Note: NA is associated with descriptions recognized for shipments to and from Canada only.

Canadian Province Codes

Code Province Code Province
AB Alberta NB New Brunswick
BC British Columbia MB Manitoba
NS Nova Scotia ON Ontario
PE Prince Edward Island QC Quebec
SK Saskatchewan NT Northwest Territories
NL Newfoundland YT Yukon Territory

Customs Hold

Holds prevent the carrier from releasing merchandise to the importer until the carrier has received hold removal notifications through the Automated Manifest System (AMS). The holds can be a result of:

  • Brokers failure to file
  • Customs requesting an intensive inspection
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting product to be held


Interchange Locations

City Province Carrier
Coutts AB CPRS
Brownsville BC CN
Huntingdon BC CPRS
N Vancouver BC CN
New Westminister BC CN
New Westminister BC CPRS
Vancouver - Thornton Yard BC CN
Vancouver BC CN
Vancouver BC CPRS
Emerson* MB CN
Winnipeg MB CN
Winnipeg MB CPRS
*Includes access to Paterson Grain at Morris (MB)
List updated 12/6/2021

Port Information

U.S. Port Port Code Canada Port Port Code
Blaine, WA 3004 Douglas 840
Sumas, WA 3009 Huntingdon 817
Sweetgrass, MT 3310 Coutts 705
Pembina (Noyes), ND 3401 Emerson 502

Port Brokers

U.S. Port Port Code Canada Port Port Code
Blaine, WA 3004 Douglas 840
Sumas, WA 3009 Huntingdon 817
Sweetgrass, MT 3310 Coutts 705
Pembina (Noyes), ND 3401 Emerson 502

Shipping from Canada to the U.S. or Mexico

  1. Canada shipper loads car destined for the U.S. Shipping instructions provided to the rail carrier must include U.S. broker. Mexico-bound shipments must have the freight forwarder and final destination showing the Mexico state.
  2. When the shipper instructions are received, the customs broker is immediately notified via electronic data interchange (EDI).
  3. On the U.S. side, the U.S. Customs broker must pre-file entry documentation for the railcar before the railcar is allowed entry into the U.S. Find more information on the Rail AMS page.
  4. U.S. Customs processes the customs broker's entry and may select the document for exam. If selected for exam, railcar may be unloaded to verify contents.
  5. Upon entry into the U.S., U.S. Customs advises the importing carrier and the responsible U.S. Customs broker whether the railcar has been released or the railcar must be held for examination.

Find a U.S. Customs broker
Find a U.S. Customs port

Shipping from U.S. or Mexico to Canada

  1. U.S. shipper loads car destined for Canada or beyond and sends invoice, packing slip, etc. to forwarding agent and to Canadian Customs Broker.
  2. Shipper or forwarding agent prepares Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) or files SED information electronically using the Automated Export System (AES) direct for shipments transiting Canada to a 3rd world country.
  3. Carrier creates a cargo control document from Shippers bill of lading. The inbond manifest is electronically sent to the Canadian Customs Broker. Canada Customs facilitates entry filing before car reaches border.
  4. Unit arrives at the border where Canada Customs releases or refers railcar for examination.

Units selected for examination may have to be off-loaded for intensive examination to verify piece counts, product description, etc. Many bulk commodities, such as grain or coal, only require a cursory visual verification. If everything is correct as declared, the unit will be released for furtherance to final destination. If Canada Customs elects to perform an intensive examination, the carrier is notified who in turn notifies the Canadian Customs Broker. The Canadian Customs Broker secures a bonded warehouse, advising the carrier of off-load destination.

Find a Canadian Customs Broker
Find a Canadian Customs Port

Department Name Contact Location
Customer Support Service Representative Tel: 360-922-1472
Fax: 817-593-7627
IP Sales Manager
Tel: 905-332-1329
Fax: 905-332-0154
Burlington, ON

Account Manager
Tel: 360-715-9009
Fax: 360-714-0237
Bellingham, WA

Account Manager
Tel: 403-919-0868 Calgary, AB

Account Manager
Tel: 604-520-5223
Fax: 604-520-5206
New Westminster, BC

Account Manager
Tel: 509-536-2321
Fax: 509-536-2215
Spokane, WA

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