The Deal with Drayage

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Q&A with our Customs Broker

2015 will be unique for WAA exhibitors: for the first time, shipments will cross the US/Canadian border. Crossing the border with exhibiting and marketing materials raises a host of questions and concerns, and to help sort it all out and make sure that our exhibitors receive the guidance they need, we’ve partnered with an experienced and reputable customs broker.

For organizations who are coming into Canada to hold their trade show or conference (there about 300 each year in the pacific region alone), working with a customs broker is a welcome partnership. Customs brokers act as a liaison with Canada Customs and facilitate draying and storage logistics.

WAA selected North American Logistics Services, Inc. (NALSI) to serve as our customs and logistics experts based upon their experience, as well as their status as the preferred provider at the Westin Bayshore and many other convention properties in Vancouver and across Canada.  Remy Perrot, Director of Sales at NALSI, and began working with WAA back in 2012. Recently, we asked Remy to answer some general questions about his company and its role in our 2015 conference.

First of all, what do you do?

“NALSI,” as we’re known in the industry, is a national customs brokerage and event logistics company. We have offices in every major city across the country, and we have been servicing the meeting and convention industry in Canada for over 20 years. NALSI is a one-stop-shop for exhibitors who need assistance shipping their display materials to Canada for exhibition. (We’re actually a one-stop-shop for Canadian exhibitors as well, assisting with shipping and advance warehousing; the only difference here is that customs is not a factor.)

What exactly is a customs broker?

Essentially, a customs broker clears goods or merchandise through customs, typically on behalf of the shipper, though it can also be for the receiver. A nice distinction for NALSI, as far as WAA is concerned, is that we are customs brokerage firm that specializes in the meetings and conventions industry.

Can’t people just ship their materials to Canada without going through a customs broker?

These are commercial shipments we’re talking about, and unlike mailing a birthday present to your niece who lives in, say, Calgary, all commercial shipments that enter Canada must be customs-cleared. So unless an individual chooses to go to the customs office to clear the shipment themselves, they must use a customs broker. The broker will complete all of the required paperwork to process the exhibit materials through customs, hassle free. It’s also important to work with a broker that specializes in exhibitions in order to avoid unnecessary customs delays.

Do exhibitors have to use your company for this service?

No, they don't. WAA simply selected us as the “official” customs broker for the 2015 conference. We’re not exclusive, so exhibitors may choose to work with any supplier they like. However, working with the experienced official always guarantees the least headaches and potential delays when dealing with customs.

What about shipping things home after the conference? How will that work?

NALSI will be on-site to assist exhibitors with return shipping requirements as well. For the exhibitors using our services, we’ll prepare the return US documentation and US clearance for their shipments just as easily as we did the Canadian clearances.

Can you please address the cost for yours services? How exactly are fees assessed?

It's difficult to give you a specific dollar figure because there are so many variables, but I can tell you how our fees are assessed.  Our customs brokerage fees are based on the amount of the bond that is given to customs on behalf of the exhibitor. As the bond amount increases, so does the clearance fee. So again, there is no set formula or rate sheet. I know this probably sounds really opaque, but much like shipping a box within the states via the US Postal Service or another carrier, we need to receive information to calculate rates (e.g., the package measurements, weight, available transit time, description and value of the materials). If an exhibitor knows how many pieces they have, each box dimension and weight, they can contact us directly and we will be happy to generate a personalized quote for our services so there are no surprises.

How many US-based organizations have held their trade shows in Canada that have been overseen by NALSI?

We’ve serviced literally thousands of events over the last 20 years with the majority coming from the U.S.

Is there anything else you could share with us that will help ease the minds of any exhibitor who still isn’t sure about exhibiting in Canada?

It’s easy exhibiting in Canada as a non-resident exhibitor! Work with the official customs and transportation supplier for the show, follow their simple instructions, and the whole process will be effortless.

More Questions?
WAA exhibitors are welcome to reach out to NALSI directly. Remy can be reached at and his colleague, Mark Fowler, Director of Operations at NALSI (and the person with whom WAA exhibitors will be working most closely), is at Both are at your service!