North American Transborder Freight Data

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North American TransBorder Freight Data FAQs

Q.1 Is there one consolidated source for information about U.S. international trade and transportation?

Q.2 What types of international trade and transportation data are collected for the United States and what are their sources?

Q.3 Specifically, where can I find U.S. international trade and transportation statistics?

Q.4 Is there an overall guide to U.S. administrative trade statistics? Where can I find it?

Q.5 Why does U.S. international trade data differ from the data of other countries, such as Canada and Mexico, and what types of trade data reconciliation occurs?

Q.6 Which Canadian and Mexican government agencies are responsible for trade statistics?

Q.7 Where can I get data for other countries?

Q.8 Where can I find information on U.S. government regulations for importing and exporting?

Q.9 Where can I find information about how to export from the United States?

Q.10 What are the sources of the North American TransBorder Freight Data?

Q.11 Are the North American TransBorder Freight Data collected via a survey?

Q.12 What is the time series of the North American TransBorder Freight Dataset?

Q.13 Who (What agency) primarily establishes the data filing requirements for imports and exports?

Q.14 Why are there differences between the administrative trade data elements for imports and exports, and how does this affect the North American TransBorder Freight Dataset?

Q.15 What is the commodity classification system used for the North American TransBorder Freight Dataset?

Q.16 Why are two different classifications used for imports and exports?

Q.17 Where can I find additional information for the Schedule B and TSUSA?

Q.18 How do the commodity classifications differ from industry classifications such Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and other domestic classifications such as the Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG)?

Q.19 How are ports defined in the North American TransBorder Freight Data, and which agency is responsible for maintaining this information?

Q.20 Where can I find information on Customs port codes and districts?

Q.21 What is the U.S. state codes based on?

Q.22 What are the Canadian Province codes based on and have there been any changes over time?

Q.23 What are the Mexican State codes based on, and have there been any changes over time?

Q.24 How are modes of transportation defined in the North American TransBorder Freight Data?

Q.25 How is mode of transportation defined?

Q.26 Are intermodal shipments included in this dataset?

Q.27 What are Foreign Trade Zones, and why are they considered an "import mode"?

Q.28 What does the value field represent? Does it differ for imports and exports?

Q.29 Why are Mexican states of origin data not available?

Q.30 Should the U.S. state total for trade in a given year or month correspond to the sum of all the ports that are located in a particular state?

Q.31 Does this dataset have metropolitan level data? If not, why not?

Q.32 Where can I find information on port operations and delays?

Q.33 Why are there no infrastructure information associated with land ports?

Q.34 Why are inland ports included in the dataset?

Q.35 Why is San Ysidro, CA no longer included for truck activity?

Q.36 What are the U.S. TransBorder Data and other international data compiled by Canada and Mexico?

Q.37 Which are the Canadian and Mexican Government agencies that are responsible for trade statistics?

Q.38 What are the modes of transportation and why is there a lack of intermodal information?

Q.39 What are Foreign Trade Zones and why are they defined as a mode?

Q.40 Why are there a lack of weight data for export shipments?

Q.41 How are port districts identified? Why are some data at the port district level?

Q1. Is there one consolidated source for information about U.S. international trade and transportation?

In the United States, multiple agencies and organizations (both public and private) are involved in the collection, processing and dissemination of international trade and transportation data. No one dataset provides all the information requirements needed by the transportation community. Data collection approaches may also vary. Some data are required by regulation and can be considered administrative data. Others are collected via surveys. Some data are reported by carriers while other data represent information from shippers. The integration of these different data sources helps to provide a more complete picture of U.S. international trade and transportation flows and trends. However, several challenges do arise when using multiple data sources, including variations in accuracy, reliability, time series, and data field definitions.

Q2. What types of international trade and transportation data are collected or the United States and what are their sources?

U.S. international trade and transportation data can be categorized into three primary categories. These are: administrative trade statistics, carrier-based data and shipper-based data. Data in these categories may be required by regulation, collected via a survey or compiled for a special study.

Administrative Trade Statistics

International merchandise trade statistics for the United States are processed and released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. Census-based merchandise trade data are captured from administrative documents required by the Departments of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security. Historically, these data have primarily reflected information filed by shippers (or their representatives) rather than carriers. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for collecting this information, either in form at U.S. ports of entry, exit or clearance. Currently, electronic information is captured through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

Once the data are collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Census Bureau is responsible for quality assurance and verification of the official U.S. international trade statistics. Census also releases several products in a wide variety of formats. In addition, other federal agencies receive special tabulations from the Census Bureau, based on the official U.S. international trade statistics. These agencies then perform additional quality assurance reviews and analyses for their own purposes and to meet the needs of their customers. These include: data on North American land trade (released to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and disseminated as the North American TransBorder Freight Data); data on U.S. international maritime trade (released to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Army Corps of Engineers and disseminated in multiple formats); data on U.S. transportation related goods and overall trade data (released to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and disseminated in multiple formats, including balance of payments information).

A wide variety of transportation and transportation related data elements are collected as part of the filing requirements for import and export transactions. This includes, for example, data elements such as value, commodity, weight, country of origin and destination, U.S. port or gateway, freight charges, etc. From a transportation perspective, several federal agencies are involved in data processing, analysis and dissemination of official international trade statistics, in addition to the Census Bureau. The primary agencies involved, from a transportation perspective, are listed below:

  • Overall levels of U.S. international trade with focus on country information and/or detailed commodity information: U.S. Census Bureau and other agencies that repackage Census-based trade statistics such as the International Trade Commission (https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html (link is external))
  • Maritime trade and transportation related data: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Department of Defense) and the Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (https://www.marad.dot.gov/resources/data-statistics/ )
  • Land trade and transportation related data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation (https://www.bts.gov/transborder)
  • Air trade: Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division (Limited information is available from their existing products. Through special tabulation requests, users can obtain more detail.)
  • Multimodal trade and transportation data integration, analysis and dissemination: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation

As noted above, customers can obtain access to data on overall levels of U.S. international trade directly from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division or from other federal agencies that have developed user-friendly summaries and queries for these data. These include the International Trade Commission's Interactive Tariff and Trade Data Web available at http://dataweb.usitc.gov/(link is external), which provides interactive access to monthly data on U.S. international trade with commodity, value and country detail through interactive queries

In addition to the administrative trade statistics, other types of data are also available to assess U.S. international trade and transportation. These include carrier and shipper based sources. Some examples of carrier based sources include:

  • International air freight data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Airline Information (OAI), maritime data from the Journal of Commerce's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS), and special periodic surveys such as the Canada’s National Roadside Survey (NRS).
  • The international air freight data from the Office of Airline Information (OAI) at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, includes data on the weight of air cargo carried between U.S. airports and foreign airports. The data represents non-stop bi-directional air trade by U.S. and foreign carriers between the United States and other countries and as such differs from U.S. Census Bureau's merchandise trade statistics. The airport data from the BTS source also reflect actual U.S. airports, not U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports (Customs ports are the basis for air ports of entry for administrative trade statistics). For international air freight analysis, the OAI data provide more detailed geographic and route information, from a carrier perspective. This type of information is not included in the administrative trade statistics released by the Census Bureau. However, the OAI data do not have information on commodity nor value, and these two data elements that are included in the administrative trade statistics.
  • The maritime data from the Journal of Commerce's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS), a private source, includes data on detailed waterborne cargo, including weight and commodity detail. The PIERS data reports containerized cargo by twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) as well as by tonnage. The source of PIERS data is the vessel manifest for all vessels entering and exiting the United States. Because the data are based on the vessel manifest information, the level of precision for the commodity and value data will differ from that reported in administrative trade statistics. The coverage of the dataset also includes transshipment activity, or shipments passing through the United States, but not part of official U.S. international trade. Therefore, the PIERS data captures a wider range of activity than is represented in official U.S. international trade statistics (which do not include transshipments).
  • In addition to OAI and PIERS, periodic surveys are collected in specific regional areas and for specific time periods. Such surveys may have a very limited time series, but can be used in conjunction with more detailed data sources. An example of this is the National Roadside Survey of Canada. This national survey was a carrier based intercept survey for trucks that was conducted in 1991, 1995, 1999, and 2006. It was originally designed to capture information on commercial truck activity among Canadian provinces. The 1999 National Roadside Study was expanded to include coverage of bi-directional truck activity at the U.S.-Canadian border. The information on U.S.-Canada truck freight covers origin and destination, major Canada-U.S. truck freight routes, commodity classification, weight and value and truck volumes by state/province and major border crossing. A component was included in the 2006 NRS.

Shipper Based Sources

In addition to these carrier sources, there are shipper-based survey sources that provide some information on U.S. international trade and transportation. An example of this is the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) conducted in 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017. The CFS is conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation the U.S. Census Bureau. Because it is a survey of U.S. domestic establishments, it captures information on export shipments from these establishments. For the 1997 survey, a special tabulation on exports was released. This covered information on the value and tonnage for exports by the export mode of transportation. It also included information on value, tonnage, and ton-miles for exports by the domestic mode of transportation. Due to changes in the sample size for the 2002 CFS, the special tabulations for exports may not have the same level of detail as reported for the 1997 CFS. The export data from the CFS is limited due to the exclusion of industries outside the scope of the CFS. Therefore, the data released is not directly comparable to merchandise trade exports released by other sources, including the Census-based foreign trade statistics. The CFS export data is collected by asking respondents to report the foreign city, country of destination, and mode of transport by which the shipment left the country. Respondents are also asked to report the U.S. port, airport, or border crossing of exit and to report the "domestic mode" of transport used to reach the U.S. destination.)

Data Source Integration

To fully assess U.S. international trade and transportation issues, customers may need to rely upon multiple data sources, including some of the administrative, carrier and shipper based data discussed here. In doing so, customers will want to review the data definitions, time series, methodology, in order to determine how to adequately link multiple sources for analysis.

Q3. Specifically, where can I find U.S. international trade and transportation statistics?

From a transportation perspective, several federal agencies are involved in data processing, analysis and dissemination of official international trade statistics. The primary agencies involved, from a transportation perspective are listed below, as well as some of their key products and services.

Overall Merchandise Trade:

The Foreign Trade Division at the Census Bureau offers a wide range of products and services, including much aggregated information online at their website https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html (link is external).  One of the most utilized products is their monthly data release on U.S. Imports of Merchandise and U.S. Exports of Merchandise, which contain information on U.S. imports and exports with value, weight, commodity, mode, and country detail.

Maritime Trade and Transportation:

The Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center of the Army Corps of Engineers offers a range of products and services specific to maritime trade and transportation. Specifically, the Waterborne Commerce Center releases the Waterborne Commerce of the United States, a series of publications that provides statistics on the foreign and domestic waterborne commerce moved on the United States waters. Also available is the Public Domain Database, which contains aggregated information of foreign and domestic waterborne cargo movements. Their website can be accessed here: https://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/About/Technical-Centers/WCSC-Waterborne-C... (link is external)

The Maritime Administration releases a variety of data and statistical reports on U.S. foreign waterborne commerce, with geographic (port, state, country), vessel, and value/weight information.. MARAD’s information can be accessed at: https://www.marad.dot.gov/resources/data-statistics/

In addition to these federal sources, the Journal of Commerce's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS) provides data on U.S. international maritime activity, and has data on TEUs.

Land Trade and Transportation:

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation offers a wide range of products and services specific to U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico by land modes of transportation (truck, rail, pipeline, mail and other). Data are released on a monthly and annual basis in several formats. https://www.bts.gov/transborder

Air Trade and Transportation:

Air trade data from official U.S. international trade statistics can be obtained from the Foreign Trade Division at the Census Bureau. The monthly data releases of U.S. Imports of Merchandise and U.S. Exports of Merchandise contain information on the value and weight of U.S. imports and exports by air with commodity detail. Information on U.S ports of entry or exit for air trade must be requested as a special tabulation from the Census Bureau. In addition to administrative trade statistics, carrier-based data on international air freight activity is also available from BTS, Office of Airline Information (OAI) at the national aggregate level. BTS publishes aggregated air data in several reports, including the National Transportation Statistics, well as the U.S. International Trade and Freight Transportation Trends report. Additional information on OAI data is available at: https://www.bts.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/airline-information-dow...

Multimodal Trade and Transportation:

Multimodal trade and transportation data and analysis are available from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation collects and integrates a wide range of international trade and transportation data from a variety of sources, and then provides summarized data tables. Data tables and analyses are included in many BTS products, such as the Pocket Guide to Transportation, the National Transportation Statistics (NTS) and the Transportation Statistics Annual Report (TSAR). These are available at the BTS website: https://www.bts.gov/

Q4. Is there an overall guide to U.S. administrative trade statistics? Where can I find it?

Yes. The Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division website contains such a document. It is called the Guide to Foreign Trade Statistics and is available at: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html (link is external). The guide provides information on the various sources of foreign trade statistics, provides definitions and details coverage information for the data elements that are collected as part of an international trade transaction. Please note that this guide is not a guide to all other data sources that can be used in analyzing U.S. international trade and transportation. It is a guide to explain in greater detail U.S. international trade statistics that are collected by CBP and released by the Census Bureau. It does not provide an overview of non-administrative trade data sources.

Q5. Why does U.S. international trade data differ from the data of other countries, such as Canada and Mexico, and what types of trade data reconciliation occurs?

Official U.S. international trade statistics may differ from similar data reported by other countries. For example, the U.S. government may report U.S. exports to Mexico for a specific amount. The Mexican government may report a different number for Mexican imports from the United States. In theory, these figures should be quite comparable. Depending on the trade partner they may be. However, differences do occur at both the aggregate and detailed levels of trade (for example, at the commodity or modal level). These differences occur due to the different types of processing, quality assurance, editing and validation that each country may perform on its data once it is reported to the government. An example of one specific difference is with shipments of a "low-value". The United States does not require that information be filed on imports or exports below a defined level (for example, less than $2,500 for exports). In contrast, some countries record all transactions regardless of value. Another difference may be how each government determines country of origin for commodities. For example, prior to May 2001, Mexican import documents, used by Mexican Customs, only allowed the reporting of one country of origin. If there was more than one country of origin the total value was attributed to the country with the largest value.

The United States and Canada have less trade reconciliation problems than other countries. This is because the United States and Canada initiated a trade data exchange in 1987. Under this agreement, each country only collects import data, and then exchanges with the other country on a monthly basis to create each country's export figures. Thus, at the national level, official international trade statistics reported by the Canadian and U.S. governments will generally agree. However, there are still reconciliation levels at the detailed level (for example, port, state or mode) because of reporting differences or differing verification procedures. For more information on the trade data reconciliation issues for North America, please visit the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division's website for the full report on "Merchandise Trade Reconciliation U.S.-Canada-Mexico" here: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html (link is external).

Q6. Which Canadian and Mexican government agencies are responsible for trade statistics?

For Canada, the International Trade Division of Statistics Canada is the main source of Customs-based trade data. More information on Statistics Canada is available at https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/start (link is external)

Transport Canada, in particular the Economic Analysis Directorate, also conducts a variety of trade and transportation analyses based on administrative (Customs) statistics from Statistics Canada as well as a number of carrier-based sources. More information on Transport Canada is available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/menu.htm /(link is external)

For Mexico, there are several sources for international trade and transportation data. The two main sources of Customs-based trade data are the Bank of Mexico and Mexico's national statistical agency, INEGI - Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía http://www.inegi.org.mx/default.aspx(link is external)

In addition, the transportation agencies in the Mexican government obtain carrier-based information and conduct a wide variety of trade and transportation analyses. This includes the Mexican Secretariat of Transportation, or Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (https://www.gob.mx/sct /(link is external) as well as the Instituto Mexicano del Transporte (https://www.gob.mx/imt /(link is external)

Q7. Where can I get data for other countries?

The International Trade Administration (ITA) maintains a list of international trade data sources as well as sources for other macroeconomic data on their website. From the ITA main page (http://www.trade.gov/(link is external)) select the link for Trade Statistics, which will take you to the web page for the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis.  On this page, you should find a link for Global Data Links. This is a list of websites for agencies in many countries that provide trade or economic data for their respective country.

Q8. Where can I find information on U.S. government regulations for importing and exporting?

Numerous federal agencies are involved, at some level, in the import and export process. For example, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) focuses on threat reduction for U.S. agriculture from pests or diseases. APHIS plays a major role in ensuring that US agricultural exports are accessible to foreign countries, and also works with countries seeking to establish preclearance programs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating products for international trade such as: food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biologics, animal drugs and feed, radiation-emitting products and cosmetics. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) oversees the development of compatible motor carrier safety requirements and procedures throughout North America. These are just a few examples, and there are many more federal agencies that have requirements that affect an international import or export transaction. In terms of import requirements, the primary U.S. federal agency with oversight in this area is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security. Information on Customs import requirements can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export (link is external). General information on export requirements can be found at the Census Bureau's web site https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/regulations/index.html (link is external), as well as the International Trade Administration web site at: https://www.export.gov/welcome /(link is external)

Q9. Where can I find information about how to export from the United States?

The Trade Information Center (TIC) at the International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce is the first stop for companies seeking export assistance from the U.S. Government and comprehensive export counseling programs. TIC trade specialists: advise exporters on how to find and use government programs; guide businesses through the export process; direct businesses to market research and trade leads; provide information on overseas and domestic trade events and activities; supply sources of public and private export financing; inform callers on how to access reports and statistics from the computerized National Trade Data Bank (NTDB); and direct businesses to state and local trade organizations that provide additional assistance. The TIC also provides export counseling for Western Europe, Asia, the Western Hemisphere, Africa, and the Near East. TIC trade specialists can assist exporters on: import tariffs/taxes and customs procedures; standards, intellectual property rights, government procurement, and other commercial laws, regulations, and practices; distribution channels, business travel, and other market information; opportunities and best prospects for U.S. companies in individual markets; and difficulties encountered on specific commercial transactions.

Q10. What are the sources of the North American TransBorder Freight Data?

The North American TransBorder Freight Dataset is a special tabulation of U.S. official international trade statistics that are collected by CBP and processed and validated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation contracts with the Census Bureau to perform this special tabulation and make these data available to the transportation community.

Q11. Are the North American TransBorder Freight Data collected via a survey?

No. These data are administrative, regulatory data required by the U.S. Government as part of the import/export procedures established by CBP and the U.S. Census Bureau. Therefore, they represent an entire "census" of U.S. trade. They are not survey data. Instead they are a special subset of official U.S. international trade statistics.

Q12. What is the time series of the North American TransBorder Freight Dataset?

The North American TransBorder Freight Data is available in monthly detail in the query tool and visualization tool for January 2006 through the present.

Q13. Who (What agency) primarily establishes the data filing requirements for imports and exports?

The Customs and Border Protection Services (CBP) under the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for determining the majority of the requirements on data filing for imports. The U.S. Census Bureau determines the requirements for commodity based export information. CBP carries out enforcement of these and other trade regulations for both imports and exports, however. In addition, other federal agencies may have other operational or safety filing requirements for cargo, conveyances and crew involved in an international trade transaction.

Q14. Why are there differences between the administrative trade data elements for imports and exports, and how does this affect the North American TransBorder Freight Dataset?

Historically, the differences and coverage and definitions for U.S. imports and exports are primarily due to the fact that two different agencies, CBP and U.S. Census have different authorities and mission requirements. Therefore, the import data that have traditionally been collected as part of a U.S. international trade transaction could vary from the same type of information that is required for exports. (The most obvious example in the North American TransBorder Freight Data is that Census currently does not require that weight data be collected for U.S. exports by land modes. In contrast, CBP requires weight data for all imports for all modes of transportation.)

Q15. What is the commodity classification system used for the North American TransBorder Freight Data?

The commodity classification system used in the North American TransBorder Freight Dataset is the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) for internationally traded commodities. Data are available at the 2-digit HTS level. You can find more information on the HTS, and other explanations of the North American TransBorder Freight Data in the Sources and Reliability Statement, which is available at https://www.bts.gov/transborder. In addition, you can find more information on the HTS at the International Trade Commission (http://www.usitc.gov/(link is external)). The International Trade Commission is the U.S. agency responsible for updating the Harmonized Tariff Schedule for the United States.

Q16. Why are two different classifications used for imports and exports?

All of the imports and export commodity classification codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). There are differences in the level of commodity detail that the United States obtains for imports and exports. Generally, much more detail is collected on import commodities-up to the 10-digit level. Export codes (which the United States calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (which is called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated or TSUSA). The Schedule B codes for exports and the TSUSA codes for imports are both based on the international Harmonized Schedule. Therefore, the import and export codes are essentially the same at the 2-digit level.

Q17. Where can I find additional information for the Schedule B and TSUSA?

Information on U.S. commodity codes for imports (sometimes referred to as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) or the Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUSA)) is available from the International Trade Commission at: https://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/index.htm (link is external). Information on export codes (Schedule B) is available from the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division at: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/index.html (link is external).

Q18. How do the commodity classifications differ from industry classifications such Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and other domestic classifications such as the Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG)?

In order to compare many types of economic statistics, classification systems must be used, especially for industries and goods. Commodity classifications such as Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and SCTG are descriptions of individual products. In fact, the SCTG coding system was developed from the HTS coding system. The Standard Classification of Transported Goods (SCTG) was jointly developed by agencies of the United States and Canadian governments to address statistical needs that the United States and Canada share in common, and to meet the individual needs of each country in regard to products transported. The goals were to: (1) improve the product categories used for collecting and reporting transportation survey data; (2) create an integrated product category for reporting Canadian marine, truck, and rail freight data; and (3) have the capability to directly compare Canadian and U.S. freight movement data.

  • Prior to the 1997 Commodity Flow Survey, U.S. freight data were collected and reported using the Standard Transportation Commodity Classification (STCC) code. This classification code was developed in the early 1960s by the American Association of Railroads (AAR) to analyze commodity movements by rail only. Following the adoption of the SCTG for use by both United States and Canada, it is now possible to directly compare international shipments between the United States and Canada. Because the HTS coding system is the predominant product coding system currently in use worldwide, the SCTG is based on the HTS. This improves the ability of comparing U.S. international freight data with domestic freight data. The use of HTS based systems also facilitates the comparison of U.S. internationally traded goods with those of other countries.
  • In comparison to commodity classifications such as the HTS and SCTG, there are also industry classifications. Historically, the United States has reported economic industry data using the Standard Industry Classification or SIC. The SIC is being replaced with the new North American Industry Classification, developed jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to provide new comparability in statistics about economic activity across North America.
  • Linking industry and commodity data is often done for economic analysis. The rearrangement of the import and export commodity data into a structure related to the statistical classification of products by industry facilitates the comparison of the U.S. import and export statistics with data for domestic production and other U.S. economic statistics. International commodity classifications under the Harmonized Schedule are summarized by the Census Bureau into approximately 450 4-digit SIC-based import and approximately 430 4-digit SIC-based export codes. Trade data linking commodities with specific industries are available from several federal sources, including the Census Bureau, the International Trade Commission, the International Trade Administration and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These are the links to the agency sites: Census: (https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html (link is external)), ITC: (http://dataweb.usitc.gov/(link is external)); ITA: (https://www.trade.gov/ link is external)); and BEA: (http://www.bea.gov/(link is external)).

Q19. How are ports defined in the North American TransBorder Freight Data, and which agency is responsible for maintaining this information?

The field "DEPE" represents the U.S. Customs and Border Protection district and port of entry or exit for U.S. international trade. For U.S. imports, and due to current filing procedures, the Customs port represents where the entry documentation was filed with Customs and the duties paid. This may not always be where the goods physically entered the United States. For U.S. exports, the district and port of export field identifies the U.S. Customs and Border Protection port where the shipment is cleared for export. It is supposed to represent the last U.S. Customs and Border Protection port cleared. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for maintaining the list of Customs districts/ports, codes and descriptions. This is known as the Schedule D.

Q20. Where can I find information on Customs port codes and districts?

A complete list of U.S. Customs and Border Protection port codes is maintained as the Schedule D, (U.S. Customs and Border Protection districts/ports, codes and descriptions) and is available from U.S. Census Bureau. The most recent Schedule D is available from the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division at http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/reference/codes/index.html#D(link is external)

Q21. What are the U.S. state codes based on?

U.S. State codes are based on the 2-digit U.S. postal code. When a U.S. state is unknown, the code is "DU".

Q22. What are the Canadian Province codes based on and have there been any changes over time?

For U.S. imports from Canada, the Canadian province of origin is intended to reflect the province where the goods were grown, manufactured or otherwise produced. However, the province information may also reflect the province used as the mailing address of the Canadian exporter or the address of an intermediary, and therefore in some instances, may not always be the actual province of physical origin. Prior to the May 1997 data month, province of origin information was captured from the manufacturer's identification code (MID). However, starting with May 1997, information on where a product was grown or manufactured became a required reporting field for U.S. Customs and Border Protection purposes. For U.S. exports to Canada, the Canadian province represents the Canadian province of clearance. The province of clearance is the province in which Canadian Customs cleared the shipment, and is not necessarily the province of final destination.

  • The North American TransBorder Freight Data use an assigned code to represent Canadian provinces, as shown below. These do not correspond to provincial mail codes used by the Canadian government.
  • In April 1999, a new territory, Nunavut, was established in Canada. Data for the geographic area that became Nunavut were previously included in the Northwest Territories data.

Province/Territory: Code

Alberta: XA

British Columbia: XC

Manitoba: XM

New Brunswick: XB

Newfoundland and Labrador: XW

Northwest Territories: XT

Nova Scotia: XN

Nunavut: XV

Ontario: XO

Prince Edward Island: XP

Quebec: XQ

Saskatchewan: XS

Yukon Territory: XY

Province Unknown: OT

Q23. What are the Mexican State codes based on, and have there been any changes over time?

For U.S. exports to Mexico, the Mexican state of destination is the state in which the ultimate consignee is located in Mexico, and is not necessarily the state of final destination. Census captures the data field for the Mexican state of destination (or MEXSTATE) from the ultimate consignee's address. If a Mexican state of destination cannot be identified for a particular shipment, it is considered unknown and coded as 'OT' in the data field. Data for the Mexican state of origin for U.S. imports from Mexico is not captured as part of current trade filing requirements.

  • The North American TransBorder Freight Dataset uses an assigned code to represent Mexican states, as shown below. These do not correspond to state mail codes used by the Mexican government.
  • Customers should also note that until May 1998, Baja California Norte was listed as a Mexican state due to an error in geographic identification. The actual Mexican state is Baja California. For the period April 1994 to May 1998, the total amount of trade for this state would be the sum of the Baja California Norte and Baja California categories. Beginning in June 1998 and subsequently, the correct state is listed as Baja California.

State: Code

Aguascalientes: AG

Baja California: BC

Baja California Norte: BN

Baja California Sur: BS

Chihuahua: CH

Colima: CL

Campeche: CM

Coahuila: CO

Chiapas: CS

Distrito Federal: DF

Durango: DG

Guerrero: GR

Guanajuato: GT

Hidalgo: HG

Jalisco: JA

Michoacán: MI

Morelos: MO

Estado de Mexico: MX

Nayarit: NA

Nuevo Leon: NL

Oaxaca: OA

Puebla: PU

Quintana Roo: QR

Queretaro: QT

Sinaloa: SI

San Luis Potosi: SL

Sonora: SO

Tabasco: TB

Tlaxcala: TL

Tamaulipas: TM

Veracruz: VE

Yucatan: YU

Zacatecas: ZA

State Unknown: OT

Q24. How are modes of transportation defined in the North American TransBorder Freight Data? The field 'mode of transportation' (DISAGMOT) identifies the surface or "other" mode of transport (MOT) of shipments entering or exiting the United States. The specific mode of transportation codes are listed below:

(1) Water

(3) Air

(4) mail (U.S. Postal Service),

(5) truck,

(6) rail,

(7) pipeline,

(8) other, and

(9) Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs).

  • For further information regarding the mode breakdown please refer to the Sources and Reliability Statement here: https://www.bts.gov/transborder
  • The mode of transportation "mail"(or DISGMOT 4) is for U.S. Postal Service shipments, and cannot be further subdivided into either rail or truck shipments.
  • The mode of transportation, "other" (or DISAGMOT 8), includes "flyaway aircraft, "or aircraft moving under their own power (i.e., aircraft moving from the aircraft manufacturer to a customer and not carrying any freight), powerhouse (electricity), vessels moving under their own power, pedestrians carrying freight, unknown and miscellaneous other.
  • For imports, foreign trade zones are also considered a mode for this dataset. The actual mode of transportation is not available for imports into FTZs, and therefore they were included as MOT "Other," prior to April 1995. In April 1995, as the result of inquiries from users, the mode of transport, "foreign trade zones", (or DISAGMOT 9) was added after a Census Bureau investigation. Although FTZ is being treated as a mode of transportation in this dataset, the actual mode for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not collect this information.
  • Land modes are truck, rail, and pipeline.

Q25. How is mode of transportation defined?

For land trade, the filing requirements indicate that the mode of transportation is to be recorded as the method of transportation in use when the shipment enters or departs the United States. Thus, if a shipment was sent from Kansas City to the Port of Laredo for export and went via rail from Kansas City to Dallas and then was shifted to truck and arrived and crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by truck, it is supposed to be reported as a truck shipment.

Q26. Are Intermodal shipments included in this dataset?

By nature of the activity, many international trade shipments involve more than one mode. However, due to the way international trade statistics are currently defined and collected, it is not possible to report on the modes of transportation used throughout the entire journey of the shipment from the foreign point of origin to the final destination in the United States (as an example, for imports). Thus, the mode in the North American TransBorder Freight Data is supposed to represent the mode by which they enter or exit the United States.

Q27. What are Foreign Trade Zones, and why are they considered an "import mode"?

Foreign-trade zones are designated sites licensed by the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board (the Secretary of Commerce is Chairperson) at which special Customs procedures may be used. FTZ procedures allow domestic processing involving foreign items to take place in approved FTZ zones. The goods are then treated as if they were outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection territory, thus offsetting Customs advantages available to overseas producers.

In April 1995, as the result of inquiries from users, the mode of transport, 'foreign trade zones' was added after a Census Bureau investigation. Although FTZ is being treated as a mode of transportation in this dataset, the actual mode for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because Customs does not collect this information.

Q28. What does the value field represent? Does it differ for imports and exports?

Imports: The data field "VALUE" refers to the Customs value or the value of merchandise for duty purposes. It is usually the selling price in the foreign country of origin. It excludes freight costs, insurance and other charges incurred in bringing the merchandise from the foreign port of export to the United States.

Exports: The data field "VALUE" refers to the value of the merchandise, usually the selling price, plus insurance and freight at the U. S. port of export. The value, as defined, excludes the cost of loading the merchandise aboard the exporting carrier at the port of export and also excludes freight, insurance, and any charges or transportation costs beyond the U.S. port of exportation.

Q29. Why are Mexican states of origin data not available?

Historically, U.S. Customs and Border Protection established the data elements that were collected for imports. Under their regulations, data on the Mexican state of origin for U.S. imports from Mexico are not currently required.

Q30. Should the U.S. state total for trade in a given year or month correspond to the sum of all the ports that are located in a particular state?

No. Specifically, this question asks, for example, if all the ports that are located on the Texas border can be taken as a sum to represent the total level of trade for the state of Texas. This cannot be done. This is because many of the border ports serve as national gateways. Therefore, not all the goods that cross the border at Laredo either originated in Texas or are destined for Texas. In 2001, for example, approximately 80 percent of the value of shipments by truck that crossed the border at Laredo had their origin or destination outside of Texas. State totals for trade can be based on the state of destination for imports and the state of origin for exports.

Q31. Does this dataset have metropolitan level data? If not, why not?

No. Currently, information on the flow of goods from the metropolitan point of origin to the port of exit (for exports) is not available. The state geographic data reported in the North American TransBorder Freight Data represent the state of origin for exports, for example. The state of origin refers to the state from which the shipment starts its journey to the port of export. For many large agricultural and bulk shipments, the state often reflects the consolidation point or port of exit. The original intention of BTS and Census was to capture state of origin, that is, the state where the goods were grown, manufactured or otherwise produced. However, in practice, the state of origin information currently available in the dataset may or may not represent this type of origin. The state of origin may also represent the mailing address of the U.S. exporter, which may or may not be the actual physical state of origin. The state of origin may also represent the location of an intermediary such as a wholesaler, retailer, or distributor. Similar information on the metropolitan origin has historically not been collected by the U.S. Government.

Q32. Where can I find information on port operations and delays?

CBP collects information on delays associated with primary and secondary inspections. The release of this information varies by Customs port. Contact information for all Customs ports is available  https://www.cbp.gov/contact/ports (link is external). In addition to Customs, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at the U.S. Department of Transportation has studies and projects underway to better understand and assess delays at the border. FHWA Office of Freight Management web site http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/ has information related to U.S./Canada and U.S/Mexico Border Transportation Planning.

Q33. Why are there no infrastructure information associated with land ports?

The port codes used in U.S. international trade statistics, including the North American TransBorder Freight Data, currently represent U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports. U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports are defined in Schedule D, which is available at http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/reference/codes/index.html#D(link is external). These port classifications correspond to CBP and port facilities rather than a specific piece of transportation infrastructure (such as a bridge or highway arterial). Therefore, for ports that has multiple bridges, such as Laredo, Texas and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York, data at the bridge level cannot be reported from this dataset.

Q34. Why are inland ports included in the dataset?

Additional port detail was added to the dataset with the January 1997 data month. In addition, in January 1997, all ports that fall within Customs districts for the Canadian and Mexican border customs districts began to be fully captured. At the same time, some additional non-border or inland ports began to be identified separately. Non-border ports with low activity are still combined at their parent Customs district and reported by an 'XX' (i.e., '35XX').

Inland ports are included in this dataset for two reasons. One is due to the type of shipment (for example an in bond shipment) while the other reason is mainly due to differences in filing procedures. In bond shipments are those, which are traveling under the care of bonded agencies inside the United States until the duties or taxes have been paid. The port of entry for an in bond shipment that is imported is considered the port where the in bond shipment is cleared by Customs (not the port of physical crossing as is supposed to be the case for non-in bond shipments.)

The other reason that inland ports are reported is due to current constraints with the level of port definitions. For imports, the port of entry is supposed to represent the Customs port where the entry documentation was filed with Customs and the duties paid. It may not always reflect the port where the shipment physically crossed the border into the United States. For exports, the port is supposed to represent the last Customs port cleared. Again, this may not always reflect the port where the shipment physically crossed the border from the United States into Canada or Mexico. In addition, with an increase in electronic filing, Census has seen an increase in the amount of inland ports identified as the port of entry or exit. These ports would then represent the port for the filing of the documentation, and not the physical crossing point.

Q35. Why is San Ysidro, CA no longer included for truck activity?

The port of San Ysidro was closed to commercial truck traffic in 1994. Despite the closure of San Ysidro to commercial truck activity in 1994, the Census Bureau continued to report data for San Ysidro through 1996. In addition, between 1994 and 1996, the Census Bureau suppressed data for traffic through the port of Otay Mesa (port 2506). Truck traffic through Otay Mesa was credited both to San Ysidro (port 2504) and to the San Diego Customs District (port 25XX). Unfortunately, it is not possible to correct previous years' data. Beginning in January 1997, all commercial truck traffic is credited to the port of Otay Mesa.

Q36. What are the U.S. TransBorder Data and other international data compiled by Canada and Mexico?

Official U.S. international trade statistics may differ from similar data reported by other countries. For example, the U.S. government may report U.S. exports to Mexico for a specific amount. The Mexican government may report a different number for Mexican imports from the United States. In theory, these figures should be quite comparable. Depending on the trade partner they may be. However, differences do occur at both the aggregate and detailed levels of trade (for example, at the commodity or modal level). These differences occur due to the different types of processing, quality assurance, editing and validation that each country may perform on its data once it is reported to the government. An example of one specific difference is with shipments of a "low-value". The United States does not require that information be filed on imports or exports below a defined level (for example, less than $2,500 for exports). In contrast, some countries record all transactions regardless of value. Another difference may be how each government determines country of origin for commodities. For example, prior to May 2001, Mexican import documents, used by Mexican Customs, only allowed the reporting of one country of origin. If there was more than one country of origin the total value was attributed to the country with the largest value.

The United States and Canada have less trade reconciliation problems than other countries. This is because the United States and Canada initiated a trade data exchange in 1987. Under this agreement, each country only collects import data, and then exchanges with the other country on a monthly basis to create each country's export figures. Thus, at the national level, official international trade statistics reported by the Canadian and U.S. governments will generally agree. However, there are still reconciliation levels at the detailed level (for example, port, state or mode) because of reporting differences or differing verification procedures. For more information on the trade data reconciliation issues for North America, please visit the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division's website for the full report on "Merchandise Trade Reconciliation U.S.-Canada-Mexico" here: https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html (link is external)

Q37. http://www.statcan.ca/start.html Which are the Canadian and Mexican Government agencies that are responsible for trade statistics?

For Canada, Statistics Canada is the main source of Customs-based trade data. More information on Statistics Canada is available at http://www.statcan.ca/start.html(link is external)

Transport Canada also conducts a variety of trade and transportation analyses based on administrative (Customs) statistics from Statistics Canada as well as a number of carrier-based sources. More information on Transport Canada is available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/(link is external)

For Mexico, there are a number of sources for international trade and transportation data. The two main sources of Customs-based trade data are the Bank of Mexico and Mexico's national statistical agency, INEGI - Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía: http://www.inegi.org.mx/default.aspx /(link is external)

In addition, the transportation agencies in the Mexican government obtain carrier-based information and conduct a wide variety of trade and transportation analyses. This includes the Mexican Department of Communications and Transportation, or Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (https://www.gob.mx/sct /(link is external) as well as the Instituto Mexicano del Transporte (https://www.gob.mx/imt /(link is external)

Q38. What are the modes of transportation and why is there a lack of intermodal information?

For land trade, the filing requirements indicate that the mode of transportation is to be recorded as the method of transportation in use when the shipment enters or departs the United States. Thus, if a shipment was sent from Kansas City to the Port of Laredo for export and went via rail from Kansas City to Dallas and then was shifted to truck and arrived and crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by truck, it is supposed to be reported as a truck shipment.

By nature of the activity, many international trade shipments involve more than one mode. However, due to the way international trade statistics are currently defined and collected, it is not possible to report on the modes of transportation used throughout the entire journey of the shipment from the foreign point of origin to the final destination in the United States (as an example, for imports). Thus, the mode in the North American TransBorder Freight Data is supposed to represent the mode by which they enter or exit the United States.

Q39. What are Foreign Trade Zones and why are they defined as a Mode?

Foreign-trade zones are designated sites licensed by the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board (the Secretary of Commerce is Chairperson) at which special Customs procedures may be used. FTZ procedures allow domestic processing involving foreign items to take place in approved FTZ zones. The goods are then treated as if they were outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection territory, thus offsetting Customs advantages available to overseas producers.

In April 1995, as the result of inquiries from users, the mode of transport, 'foreign trade zones' was added after a Census Bureau investigation. Although FTZ is being treated as a mode of transportation in this dataset, the actual mode for a specific shipment into or out of a foreign trade zone is unknown because the Customs and Border Protection Services (CBP) does not collect this information.

Q40. Why are there a lack of weight data for export shipments?

The weight of U.S. exports by land modes of transportation is not available because these data are not required to be reported.

Q41. How are port districts identified? Why are some data at the port district level?

Districts are listed in with the letters n.e.c. after the name of the district – n.e.c. stands for not elsewhere classified.  Data listed for port districts involves shipments that the Census Bureau does not wish to disaggregate to the port level for confidentiality reasons.

Updated: Friday, October 12, 2018