According to BuyUSA.gov, the US-Canada trade relationship is the largest ever to exist between two nations. In the year 2000, 74 percent of Canada’s imports came from the US and 86 percent of their exports went to the US. Canada’s volume of trade with the US is greater than all of its other trading partners combined. The US and Canada are natural trading partners since the two countries share a common language and a vast border with good roads. The business and cultural environment of the two countries is also very similar, which makes it easy to do business back and forth. BuyUSA.gov estimates that 30 percent of employment in Canada is supported by exports – most of which are destined for the US. Given the importance of exports to the US, particularly exports carried in trucks, most employers are looking for drivers who are able to cross the US-Canada border.
To drive a truck in Canada, you must first qualify for a commercial driver’s license. Each province has its own testing procedures, but in general, you have to be 18 or 19 years old, depending on the type of license you want, and you must have a clean driving record. First, you will take a written test to qualify for the learner’s license. The study guides for the written tests are available online.
Once you have your learner’s, you can take a truck driver training course and then take the skills test for the vehicle you want to drive. However, getting the license is just the beginning. Next, you have to find a job.
There are few critical components to landing a good trucking job in Canada. Of course, safety is important. Your driver’s record should be spotless. You should also be able to communicate well in English, French or both languages. And it’s really important to be able to cross the border into the US.
Regulations about crossing the border into the US change often, but a clean criminal record is important. Speeding tickets and traffic violations aren’t a big problem for border crossing, but they might be for a hiring manager. Misdemeanors and felonies may be a border problem. The officials working at border control have discretion about who they allow to enter the country and something as seemingly small as your attitude or appearance could put you at risk for being turned away.
If you have a clean criminal record, proper documentation of your cargo and appropriate identification for yourself, then the biggest problem you are likely to have at the border is the wait. To speed the process, apply for a FAST card through the Canada Border Services Agency. These documents cost CAN $50 and they are good for five years. With a FAST card, you can use designated lanes to zip through the border crossing, saving you time and lowering your risk of missing your delivery deadlines. The FAST card application process is above and beyond your driver training. It includes fingerprinting and an interview – basically, the process consists of a mini background check to make sure you are a low-risk person. The card works at both the US/Canada and US/Mexico border. Some companies will only hire drivers with FAST cards. Others pay a bonus to FAST card holders.