Through-Trailer vs. Transloading: Which Cross-Border Service is Right for You?

Whenever you need to move truckload freight across the U.S./Mexico border, you have two viable service options: transloading or through-trailer.  While both methods will safely transport your product from Mexico to the U.S. (or vice versa), we want to make sure you are choosing the method that is most efficient and cost-effective for your budget.  Often times that solution involves transloading.

Before we discuss these benefits, here's a quick overview of each process. 

Transloading: The process of transferring a shipment from one trailer to another at a border crossing.

  1. Mexico carrier picks up the freight and takes it to a secure yard at the border.
  2. Border drayage carrier takes the trailer across the border to a transload facility.
  3. Transload facility transfers the product to a US carrier.
  4. US carrier makes the final delivery.

Through-Trailer: The process of moving a shipment through border crossings in its original trailer.

  1. Mexico carrier with a trailer interchange agreement with a US carrier picks up the freight and takes it to a secure yard.
  2. Border drayage driver takes the trailer across the border to the US partner carrier’s yard.
  3. US carrier makes the final delivery.

*Assumes northbound shipment. Southbound process is virtually the same, only reversed.

When it comes to choosing a cross-border service, shippers often automatically assume through-trailer service is the best option without fully considering the upside of transloading.

Many companies think by choosing a through-trailer solution their product will be safer moving into Mexico or the U.S. because the seal on the trailer is not broken. The reality is, due to government regulations at the border, both methods could require the seal to be broken.” 

- Kyle Toombs, Director of Mexico

Transloading is every bit as safe and secure as through-trailer, and typically more efficient. Let’s look at some of the ways transloading can help your cross-border supply chain.

Transloading Benefits:

Greater Carrier Capacity:
With transloading, you access the full capacity of two independent carrier bases—any Mexico carrier can be paired with any U.S. carrier on a shipment. This allows for increased options and superior flexibility. For through-trailer service, you’re limited to carriers that have an interchange agreement with a counterpart carrier on the other side of the border. This is a significantly smaller capacity pool, limiting your options.

Avoid Potential Delays at the Border:
With the superior flexibility provided by transloading, it’s easier to source carriers on both sides of the border who can pick up and deliver within your desired time frame. Through-trailer shipments are reliant on the limited capacity of the two carriers in the interchange agreement, which can lead to delays at the border. This is becoming increasingly common with the imbalance of northbound vs. southbound freight.

Reduced Shipping Costs: 
A larger capacity pool on both sides of the border means more carriers and potentially more efficient options. With transloading service, you can source carriers whose networks sync up with yours, driving more cost-effective rates.

What freight is a good candidate for transloading service?

Experienced, specialized transloading facilities located near major border crossings can handle virtually any product. That said, freight loaded on pallets or slip sheets fares best, particularly raw materials, food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods.

Flatbed shipments, over-dimensional product, and any freight that requires specialized loading is usually better off with through-trailer service.

One size does not fit all.

Every shipper's international supply chain looks a little bit different, with unique requirements and challenges—what is ideal for one shipper may not be the best option for another. That’s why Coyote Logistics has a dedicated team of Mexico freight specialists to help you decide which cross-border solution makes the most sense for your business. Whether you need transloading or through-trailer service, we have you covered.

Talk to a Cross-Border Specialist 

Are you already moving freight with Coyote and want to add cross-border freight? Talk with your Sales Rep to get started. 

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