What Is a Bonded Trucker?

Many regulations apply to truck drivers, trucking companies, the actual vehicles and the cargo they carry. A bonded truck pertains to the trucking company, truck and what is being transported inside. It is a permit that makes the border crossing process easier. If the driver does not have this information with them, they may not be able to pass through U.S. ports of entry unless they get a customs release when crossing the border or pay duty on the cargo.


There are different trucker bonds, including customs bonds, immediate transport bonds and transportation and exportation bonds. These bonds are permits that streamline national and international freight processes.

Bonded Carrier Meaning

The writers at BM2 Freight explain that when a trucking company is a licensed bonded carrier, their transport loads are called “in-bond shipments.” This designation makes it easier for businesses to forward freight and streamline import/export procedures. Put another way, these authorized carriers can transport cargo throughout the U.S. without paying customs release or duty fees when crossing over to Canada or Mexico and back. The bond used to show this designation is a permit shown at border crossings.

There is more than one kind of trucker bond and more than one bonded carrier meaning. According to the writers at Mexicom Logistics, a customs bond shows the U.S. government that all of the taxes, duties or fines pertaining to the freight will be paid by the trucking company when required. It only applies for bonded loads valued at $2,500 or more. An Immediate Transportation Bond (IT) is needed when cargo is transported between two points within the U.S. to get to a destination port. If the freight is transported between two points within the U.S. and needs to be exported later, the company will also need a Transportation and Exportation Bond (T&E).

When to Get a Bonded Load

There are three reasons to use a bonded truck when transporting freight internationally. The first is when the truck has to travel from Mexico to Canada through the United States. You will also need a bonded load if the freight is heading south from Canada to Mexico. The third is when cargo is in transit through the U.S., but it is not the departure or destination point.

Non-bonded carriers have to release the shipments they are carrying at the first point of arrival, costing companies time and money; however, truckers can obtain single trip authorization. They have to post security with the border services agency or use cash or a certified check to do this. To become a bonded carrier for transport to Canada, the trucking company must be an international commercial transportation company. They have to apply to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The writers at Border Connect add that applicants must provide detailed information about the cargo, the company, its employers and the driver, along with paying a small fee.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website shows that international carriers that transport freight in and out of the U.S. must also have an international carrier bond on file with them. To get one of these bonds, companies have to reach out to a surety approved by CBP.