Through-Trailer or Transloading: Which Service to Choose When Shipping to and From Mexico?

Diana MaureExports, Freight Trucking, General, Imports1 Comment

Customs officer directing traffic

When it comes to moving your goods across the border from the United States into Mexico there are really only two options you have at your disposal. The first option is transloading and the second one is by using a trailer. Both methods will get your product from Mexico to the United States or from the United States to Mexico safely but it’s still important that you select the most appropriate method for your cost-effectiveness, your budget, and the efficiency of your company. In most situations the best solution is transloading.

What is Transloading?

Let’s take a look at each method. Transloading is when you transfer your shipment from one trailer into a separate trailer at the border crossing. This means that a Mexico carrier picks up your freight in Mexico and brings it to a secure yard at the border with the United States. Then a carrier takes the trailer across the border to a transload facility on the US side. From there, the transload facility moves the product into a US carrier responsible for making the final delivery. If you are shipping your goods across the border from the US to Mexico, everything functions exactly the same way except in the opposite direction.

What is Through-Trailer?

A through-trailer moves your shipment across the border crossing but it doesn’t have to transfer it from one container into another. It just stays in the original container. So, if you are moving products from Mexico into the United States your shipment would be in the hands of a Mexican carrier that has a trailer interchange agreement with a US carrier and that trailer would pick up the freight and move it into a secure yard. At this point, the driver at the border would take the trailer itself across the border to the partner carrier yard on the United States side. Then the US carrier would make the final delivery. If the shipment is traveling from the United States into Mexico the exact same process takes place.

Effectively, the process and the number of steps and stops involved remains the same no matter which method you use. However, with the transloading method, your goods get transferred into different trailers that move throughout the various checkpoints. While in the through-trailer process your goods stay in the same trailer and the trailer itself gets moved through the various checkpoints.

Benefits of Transloading and Through-Trailer

Both methods achieve the same result in so far as you are able to ship your goods across the border from Mexico into the United States or from the United States into Mexico. They both require the goods to be stopped at one side of the border, then moved through the border crossing by a third party, and then picked up on the other side of the border. The benefits you have to consider involve what type of freight you have, the cost of using different services, etc.

There are different benefits to transloading. First and foremost, you can achieve a greater carrier capacity. This allows you to have access to the full capacity of two separate carrier bases, both on the Mexico and the United States side. This increases your flexibility and options. With transloading it’s simpler to find carriers located on either side of the border who are able to pick up and deliver within a specific time frame. Having a larger capacity pool means access to more carriers and the potential for reduced shipping costs, although this is not a guarantee. Nonetheless, if you use transloading you can choose carriers whose networks actually sync up in order to reduce the overall rates you pay.

For through-trailer services you are limited to the carriers that have an interchange agreement so you can’t use as many options as you could with transloading. However, if you have a good, reliable company that has an interchange agreement this isn’t problematic. The through-trailer option for your shipment is reliant upon the capacity of the two carriers that you have available to you within the interchange agreement. So if they have a limited capacity and are dealing with a high volume of shipments it can result in delays at the border. This is becoming increasingly common with an ever-growing imbalance of shipments that are northbound compared to the number of southbound shipments. You don’t have as much flexibility in terms of the carriers however, you have the potential for reducing your shipping costs by finding reliable carriers for regular shipments across the border that are offered at a cost effective rate.

How Shippers Can Decide What to Choose

As a shipper you can decide which option is best suited for you by considering your requirements and challenges. An ideal solution for you might not be the best solution for another company. Having specialized facilities near border crossings will help you figure out which companies are good candidates to help you transport your products. For example, freight that is loaded onto pallets, like food, beverages, raw materials, and other packaged goods is going to benefit more from transloading services. Flatbed shipments, or other shipments that have an over-dimensional shape to them or perhaps require some form of specialized loading, would benefit more from the through-trailer service.  The through-trailer service would decrease the difficulty associated with an odd dimension or specialized loading requirements that may be required at three separate stages instead of just one. The best way for you as a shipper to decide which method to choose is to work with a logistics company that has freight specialists ready and willing to help you decide the best option based on your needs.

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Diana Maure
Recently promoted to Sales Manager, Diana started in 2004 as the Foreign to Foreign Manager for ShipLilly. Her unique background has allowed her to help improve the supply chain of many international clients and provide customized logistical solutions throughout the years.

One Comment on ““Through-Trailer or Transloading: Which Service to Choose When Shipping to and From Mexico?”

  1. Tyler Johnson

    That’s good to know that you could use a through-trailer that doesn’t need to stop. That sounds like it would be a lot faster if you could work it out. I should make sure I look into that if I start a business and eventually expand it internationally.

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