Importing ecommerce orders to Canada is growing with new technologies and import processes. It is important for both ecommerce sellers and buyers to understand the potential imports costs to Canada.
Even though Canada has free trade agreements with most major countries, duty free access is limited based on value and country of origin. Canadian import fees beyond duty include entry preparation, federal and provincial taxes and carrier disbursement fees. All are covered below.
In this post, our team reviews the issues that can affect your import fees to Canada, including:
- How does the value of the goods affect duty status for shipments to Canada
- Import benefits from USA and Mexico versus from rest of world
- Importing printed matter to Canada
- Duty free threshold for shipments from the US and Mexico
- Valuation for ecommerce and parcel imports from rest of world
- Free Trade Agreements and preferential duty free import for ecommerce
- Country of Origin and preferential duty import to Canada
- Other fees and costs related to import costs
- A consolidated list of common import fees to Canada
- Canadian customs CBSA assessment and revenue portal (CARM)
- About Jet Worldwide
- Information needed for an international shipping quote to / from Canada
Disclaimer: The information in Jet Worldwide online content, including this post, is for general information only and is not intended to, constitute legal and/or tax advice. Producers, shippers, exporters, importers should confirm their processes with their customs brokers, carriers and regulating authorities. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this site are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided “as is”; no representations are made that the content is error-free.
Factors that affect import fees to Canada
The factors that can affect import fees to Canada can include:
- From where the goods are shipped (see chart below)
- Value of the consignment (read more about valuation)
- Country of origin (where the goods were made)
- Harmonized code of the goods (read more about HS Codes)
- Final destination of Canada (provincial sales tax)
- Carrier and and method of shipping
Importing from the USA versus from Rest of World
The key difference when importing to Canada from the USA (and Mexico) versus the rest of the world is the USMCA/ CUSMA free trade provisions related to the duty free threshold. The default duty free threshold to Canada is CA$20 , but goods shipped from the USA and Mexico benefit from higher duty free and tax free threshold.
The advantages of USMCA/ CUSMA for goods imported from the USA and Mexico include:
- Duty free and Tax free eligibility for imports valued under CA$40
- Duty free eligibility for imports valued under CA$150
- Duty free eligibility for goods that qualify as USA and Mexican origin regardless of value*
* Note: In addition to USMCA, Canada has major free trade agreements with most of the world's leading economies. See section below for more details.
Even with the USMCA / CUSMA North American free trade, all shipments from the USA are subject to import clearance, duty and taxes.
Importing documents, books and other printed matter to Canada
Shipments containing printed matter or documents are not subject to Canadian duty. Provincial sales tax may apply when items with a commercial value, such as books, are being imported.
When shipping documents to Canada, it is best to use a minimal declared value (see next section on duty free import).
Printed matter including books, brochures and leaflets can be imported to Canada duty free.
- Printed books, brochures, leaflets and similar printed matter, whether or not in single sheets: HS Code 4901.00.00.00
- Dictionaries and encyclopaedias: HS Code 4901.91.00.00
Local Print and ship services: Contact Jet's team if you wish to have a file printed and shipped within Canada for a single document or on demand printing options
Duty Free Threshold for importing parcels and ecommerce orders to Canada
The default "duty free threshold" to Canada is CA$20. But - as mentioned above - can be higher if shipped from the USA or Mexico.
Duty Free Threshold to Canada for goods shipped from Mexico and USA
Thanks to Canada's free trade agreement (USMCA/ CUSMA/T-Mec), the duty free threshold for goods shipped via courier from the USA and Mexico to Canada is CA$150. Goods valued under CA$40 from the USA and Mexico can be cleared free of both duty and taxes.
As part of the USMCA (the "new NAFTA), Canada has raised their low value duty threshold ( de minimis threshold) to $150 CAD (around $110 USD). Local sales taxes will still apply (but often businesses can claim back for sales tax).
The duty free threshold for goods shipped via USPS and Mexican post remains at CA$20.
Duty Free Threshold to Canada for goods not shipped from Mexico and USA
The default duty free threshold of CA$20 (mentioned above) applies to imports to Canada. Shipments valued above this threshold are subject to both duty and taxes.
Valuation of ecommerce orders for Import to Canada
The valuation of goods - especially ecommerce orders - to Canada is getting more attention. Experts estimate that the majority of ecommerce orders from Asia are undervalued to ensure they benefit from the CA$20 duty free threshold. So far, Canadian authorities are surprisingly accepting of this process but we anticipate enforcement will start in much the same way it has in Europe and the UK.
Free Trade Agreements and Duty Free Canadian Import for Ecommerce
Canada has free trade agreements with most of the world's major economies. In addition to the USMCA/CUSMA mentioned above, Canada's major free trade agreements include with Europe (CETA), UK (UKTCA), Asia Pacific region (CPTPP), along with agreements with individual countries such as South Korea (CKFTA).
Canada's newest trade agreements make it easier to request preferential duty free import for qualifying origin goods. In most cases, an origin declaration can be included on the shipping paperwork (most often as part of the customs invoice).
Read More: Canada's free trade agreements
Ecommerce orders and parcels imported from countries that have a free trade agreement with Canada can benefit from preferential duty free import. Goods valued under CA$3,300 benefit from less burdensome certification of origin declarations and processes.
It is important to mention that goods that are shipped from a country does not automatically qualify them for duty free import under a free trade agreement.
Ship from ≠ Country of Origin
Each trade agreement has different rules related to country of origin but, generally speaking, the country of origin refers to where the goods were manufactured, grown or raised (in the case of agriculture). For example, an item shipped from Australia that was made in China would not quality for duty free status even though Australia and Canada share a free trade agreement (CPTPP).
Duty and other Import Fees to Canada
Canadian import duties are based on the following three factors:
- Value of the goods (read more about valuation)
- Commodity/ HS code (read more about HS codes)
- Country of origin (refers to where the goods were made, grown or raised)
Even if the goods imported qualify for duty free status, the other fees to consider are the entry preparation fee, Canadian federal/provincial sales tax and carrier fees.
For goods imported via express courier, the entry preparation fee is usually included. Goods shipped to Canada via FedEx or UPS ground are subject to an entry preparation fee.
Common Canadian Import Fees for E-commerce
Common import fees for consignments shipped via air to Canada can include:
- Duty: Items that do not otherwise qualify for preferential duty free import are assessed duty (see section above).
- Tax: All consignments imported to Canada are subject to both federal and provincial sales tax.
- Entry preparation fee: This fee is included for most shipments sent via express courier to Canada. Consignments that require non-standard entries or shipped via ground or surface are most often subject to entry preparation fees and fees for an import bond. See graphic below for representative entry preparation fees for ground shipments from the USA.
- Carrier Disbursement Fee: Most carriers charge a fee for prepayment of duty and taxe between 2-3% of the amount paid on behalf of the consignee. Most shipments are charged a minimum fee between CA$10 and CA$20.
Note: The above chart are sample entry preparation fees for ground shipments from the USA to Canada. The actual fees vary by carrier and can be negotiated lower for high volume importers. Check with your carrier for details.
The Canadian Customs online portal which is designed to streamline processes and a useful too for Canadian importers. Read more about CBSA Assessment and Revenu Management (CARM)
Shipping to Canada via Jet Worldwide
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Get a quote for shipping international to and from Canada
Jet Worldwide gives access to all companies seeking shipping quotes to and from Canada for parcels pallets, and ecommerce. For a quote, please provide:
- Your company name and contact details
- Ship from Address
- Ship To Address
- Weight and dimensions of each piece
- Item(s) being sent
For a quote for shipping online orders, regular volumes and logistics support; provide details including shipping volume, item(s) being shipped, average value and weight of each parcel. The more details the better :).
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