Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Freight Forwarder or Freight Forwarding Company?

Cargo Spectrum is a freight forwarder or freight forwarding company used by businesses to arrange and handle the movement of domestic and international Air, Ocean or Ground shipments from point of origin to point of destination, as well as, to assist importers and exporters to transport their commercial goods from one international location to another. Cargo Spectrum ensures that goods arrive at the right location, on-time and on budget, by acting as an intermediary to ensure cooperation between the customer and all involved airlines and carriers. Core responsibilities are to identify the best routes, advise on various modes of transport, as well as, to negotiate freight rates with the airlines and carriers to move cargo economically, via the best shipment points.

What is the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Container Weight Requirement?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), announced the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) requirements under the amendments to chapter VI of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), will become mandatory on July 1st, 2016.

SOLAS is an IMO (a United Nations specialized agency) treaty & generally regarded as the most important of all international maritime treaties concerning the safety & security of shipping & the prevention of marine pollution.

Effective from July 1st, 2016, ocean carrier vessel operators & port terminal representatives in approximately 170 countries, will be prohibited from loading cargo shipping containers aboard a vessel for export, if the container’s gross mass has not been verified.

Shippers are responsible for providing mandatory verification of the VGM for all packed cargo shipping containers, prior to tendering cargo & loading on a vessel. IMO guidelines state the Shipper is the entity or person named on the bill of lading or sea waybill. The Shipper is responsible for accurately recording, duly signing & authorizing the VGM data on the shipment documents & providing to ocean carrier vessel operators & port terminal representatives, for use in the ship stowage plans. The weighing must be done after stuffing & securing of containerized cargo in one of two approved ways as follows:

Method #1: After packing & sealing a container, the Shipper may weigh or arrange a third party to weigh the packed container using calibrated & certified equipment.

Method #2: The shipper or a third party may weigh all packages & cargo items, including the mass of pallets & other packing material securing the cargo in the shipping container, by adding the tare mass of the container to the mass sum of the cargo, using a certified method as outlined by the IMO. Any third party that has performed some or all of the packing of the container should inform the Shipper of the mass of the cargo items & packing materials that the party has packed into the container in order to facilitate the Shipper’s verification of the gross mass of the packed container.

Estimating weights of the contents of the container & adding those weights to the container’s tare weight is not permitted. Shippers cannot use weights for any cargo in a container that someone else has provided, with the exception of original, sealed packages printed with the accurate mass of the cargo items, marked by the manufacturer directly on the original packaging.

Ocean carriers have advised to use the weight given on the container, unless they have provided another method for Shippers to verify the actual tare weight for each container. It is important to note that some empty container tare weights printed on the side of the container could be incorrect, due to containers often having to be repaired or reinforced using metal.

What is the Air Cargo Security (ACS) Program?

Cargo Spectrum is an Approved Participant in Transport Canada’s Air Cargo Security Program. Transport Canada is working with the air cargo industry to implement the ACS Program in order to mitigate risks to civil aviation. Strengthening Canadian air cargo security and making it comparable to the air cargo security practices of the United States and other key trading partners will help our economy and position Canada as a strong partner in global efforts against terrorism. Contact Cargo Spectrum for more information on our role as an Approved Participant in the ACS program.

What is the Transport Canada Transportation Security Clearance Program (TSCP)?

As an Approved Participant in Transport Canada’s Air Cargo Security (ACS) Program, Cargo Spectrum has prepared and organized acceptance procedures to accommodate Transport Canada’s new regulatory measures for cargo being transported onboard passenger aircrafts effective January 1st, 2013. 100% of cargo transported onboard a domestic, international or trans-border passenger flight departing a CATSA-designated Canadian airport must be secured and confirmed at the air carrier level as having met some security requirements. For domestic and international passenger flights, cargo must come from a Registered Shipper or be actively screened using approved methods by either an Approved Participant in the ACS Program or the air carrier. Failure to register as a Registered Shipper will subject your air cargo to additional handling, screening, fees and delays. If you are already a Registered Shipper, there is no change to your current shipment procedures (except for shipments bound for Israel, Transport Canada requires that all shipments be screened regardless of shipper’s security status). Contact Cargo Spectrum’s representatives for more information about the Transport Canada Transportation Security Clearance Program (TSCP).

What are Dangerous Goods?

Dangerous goods are solids, liquids or gases that are flammable, explosive or toxic to people, other living organisms, property or the environment. Manufacturers, shippers and transporters MUST know what they are shipping and properly identify, classify, pack, mark, label and document according to Transport Canada’s dangerous goods regulations. The 9 dangerous goods classes are: Class 1 Explosives, Class 2 Gases, Class 3 Flammable Liquids, Class 4 Flammable Solids, Class 5 Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides, Class 6 Poisonous and Infectious Substances, Class 7 Radioactive Materials, Class 8 Corrosives and Class 9 Miscellaneous Products or Substances. Contact Cargo Spectrum for more information on Dangerous Goods.

Staff at Cargo Spectrum qualified to handle Dangerous Goods?

Yes. Cargo Spectrum’s staff are required to maintain valid dangerous goods qualifications at all times and work in compliance with Transport Canada’s dangerous goods regulations that stipulate anyone who handles, offers for transport, transports, imports/exports or comes in contact with dangerous goods, must be adequately trained to ensure that consignors, carriers and consignees have met all applicable requirements, prior to presentation to the Carrier for transport. Contact Cargo Spectrum’s qualified dangerous goods representatives for more information.

Can Cargo Spectrum handle pickups at origin?

Yes. We require your full pickup address and contact information at origin in order to make arrangements for freight pickup.

Can Cargo Spectrum handle door delivery at destination?

Yes. We require your full delivery address and contact information at destination in order to make arrangements for freight delivery.

Can Cargo Spectrum handle special requirements, i.e. residential pickup, residential delivery, power tailgate, extra man power, refrigeration?

Yes. We handle residential pickups, residential deliveries, power tailgates, extra man power and refrigeration needs. Additional fees will apply for special services. If your location is considered to be in a residential zone, additional fees will apply for residential services. If your pickup or delivery address does not have a loading dock and manual loading or unloading via a power tailgate is required, additional fees will apply.

What are Cargo Spectrum’s typical shipment transit times?

Air: Airport to Airport transit times are approximately 2-4 days and Door to Door transit times are approximately 5-6 days. Ocean: Port to Port transit times are approximately 2 weeks and Door to Door transit times are approximately 3 weeks. Note: Transit times are approximate and may vary depending on customs clearance, carrier delays or schedule changes etc.

Does Cargo Spectrum offer cargo insurance?

Yes. It is not mandatory to obtain cargo insurance, however it is good practice or your shipment could be at risk of theft, damage or loss. Please contact Cargo Spectrum for more information on cargo insurance.

Why are ocean freight rates so changeable?

At Cargo Spectrum we understand the many factors involved with fluctuating freight forwarding rates. For imports, December to April from Asia to North America is referred to as slow season, due to the retail market slow down after the Christmas period. Markets can experience a surge in cargo moving in mid January to early February to beat the Chinese New Year deadline when factories in China close for approximately 2 weeks causing rates to increase due to lack of space on vessels. May to November is considered peak season when there is a demand for cargo moving into North America and carriers tend to raise the rates during this time with what is called a GRI (general rate increase) or PSS (peak season surcharge). Another factor is fuel increases where carriers change the fuel surcharges when the price of oil rises with what is called BAF (bunker adjustment factor). In addition, carriers also increase rates when terminal costs rise.

What is chargeable weight?

Air freight is based on both the actual weight and chargeable weight of the cargo. Chargeable weight is calculated using a formula including all three dimensions, i.e. length x width x height. IATA regulations state that the cost of air freight must be calculated on the chargeable weight. Chargeable weight is the actual gross weight or the volume weight, whichever is greater. If you have oversized cargo or require any special handling additional rates will apply.

What is a B13A?

B13A = Export Declaration. The CBSA requires a B13A to be completed by the exporter and is used for customs control purposes. The exporter is defined as the person or company including a non-resident exporter that exports goods or causes them to be exported. The B13A must be stamped either manually or by using the stamp machine at the customs office (an inland office or at the place of exit) where the goods are reported and available for inspection. If goods are inspected by customs, the customs officer will also affix a stamp.

What is dimensional weight?

Dimensional weight is based on cargo density when determining charges based on the gross weight of the shipment or the dimensional weight of the shipment, whichever is greater. Dimensional weight is when the weight is considerably less than the actual size of the package, i.e. a box filled with styrofoam. Dimensional weight charges apply when the actual weight of a package is less than the calculated dimensional weight.

What is AMPS?

AMPS = Administrative Monetary Penalty System. AMPS is a penalty system that secures compliance with customs legislation through the application of penalties. AMPS authorizes the CBSA to assess penalties for non-compliance with customs legislative, regulatory and program requirements. The CBSA may impose penalties based on the type, frequency and severity of the infraction. Most penalties are graduated and will take the compliance history of the client into consideration. AMPS does not impact businesses who comply with customs requirements.

What is eManifest?

eManifest = part of the Advance Commercial Information (ACI) program. ACI requires carriers to electronically transmit cargo, conveyance, house bill/supplementary cargo and importer data to the CBSA prior to loading in the marine mode and prior to arrival in the air and ground modes. eManifest is in place to enhance the safety and security of Canadians and international trade while streamlining cross-border processes and improving the CBSA’s ability to detect high-risk shipments before they arrive at the border. eManifest will be mandatory in most cases, but will not apply to shipments exported from Canada.

Where will my shipment enter Canada? Where will the goods be released?

The CBSA releases most shipments at their point of arrival, i.e. international airport, seaport or highway border. However, you can request that goods arriving at one of these border locations be released at an inland office. Cargo Spectrum will ensure that your shipment arrives and goods are correctly reported and travels under customs control by a bonded carrier for release at the inland site of your choice.

Does Cargo Spectrum ship scrap metal, scrap plastics or waste?

No. Cargo Spectrum ship only commercial cargo NOT scrap or waste. You would need to contact a company that moves scrap or waste.

What is the difference between duties and customs duty?

Duties include any duties or taxes levied under the Customs Tariff, the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, or the Special Import Measures Act. Customs duty includes only the duties prescribed under the Customs Tariff.

How to prevent delays and ensure a smooth shipment transit process?

Ensure the overseas supplier for imports or the supplier for exports prepares all the necessary documents correctly, i.e. packing lists, commercial invoices, OB/L etc. This will avoid any discrepancies between the buyer and supplier as well as payment and release of goods and surrender or express release of the OB/L.

When is an Original Bill of Lading (OB/L) surrendered?

In most cases an OB/L is required to be surrendered on arrival and prior to shipment release. The seller has the option of requesting an “express bill of lading” which will allow for the release of the cargo without the original bill of lading. All parties involved, i.e. buyer, seller and carrier should have a copy of the OB/L. The only way to release the shipment is to present the OB/L or have the OB/L express released.

How to apply for a credit account with Cargo Spectrum?

You would need to fill out a credit application and supply all necessary information. Once a credit check has been performed and credit is approved, you would be granted the appropriate credit limit and payment terms. Click HERE to view our Standard Trading Conditions.

What are Cargo Spectrum’s freight payment requirements?

Most freight payments are made by company cheque, wire transfer or direct bank deposit prior to release of goods. Payment is made at the time the freight has been booked for Exports or has arrived and been customs cleared for Imports.

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