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Global Guide for International Shipping to Canada

Shipping Guide to Canada

Canada economy and culture built on international connections with both Canadian and international companies seeking to ship direct to Canada and North America . International companies seek access to the Canadian market. Companies can use Canada as a base camp for their North American operations. Benefit from this Complete International Shipping Guide to Canada.

Need information shipping from Canada? Read our Guide for Shipping FROM Canada.

International Shipping to Canada: The Basics

There are several options shipping to Canada. Yet, with so many choices comes the potential for confusion. Let’s start with the most common options.

  • Postal service
  • Courier services
  • Air Cargo
  • Sea Freight

To ship to Canada, you will need to include a Commercial Invoice: This document lists the details of the goods. The details must include the value, quantity, and description. Check with Canadian customs authorities to make sure that the goods are acceptable into Canada. Some goods, such as certain types of food require special permits with restrictions.

Useful Video: How to Ship to Canada !

Jet Worldwide's Complete Shipping Guide to Canada helps you import to Canada. Get local support form our Canadian team.

International Import Guide Content
  • Individuals Shipping to Friends and Relatives in Canada
  • Companies seeking access to the Canadian market
  • Shipping air versus truck /ocean/surface- which is better
  • Review of Canadian Freight Forwarders
  • Review of Customs Brokers - what is necessary?
  • Non-Resident importer
  • Common import fees including customs duty, taxes and carrier disbursement
  • Benefit from Canada's Free Trade Agreements
  • Low value duty free threshold to Canada
  • Get a shipping quote to and from Canada

Disclaimer: The information in Jet Worldwide online content, including this post, is for general information.

Useful PDF: Shipping USA to Canada

Best Options for Economical Shipping to Canada

The price of the shipping depends on the dimensions of the package, its weight, and the delivery method you choose. No matter who you ship with, it is important to understand the Canadian import process.

All shipments to Canada must clear Canadian Customs. Individual orders from online suppliers import on the receivers behalf using the Canadian Border Services Agency’s Courier Low-Value System (LVS) system. The LVS processes allow for conditional release for delivery prior to final processing and payment of import fees. Most cargo arriving via courier under CA$3300 are eligible for LVS clearance.

Canadian Foreign Importer of Record

Foreign companies wishing sending into Canada can integrate the import process by registering as a "foreign importer of record". In this way, you can ship goods in bulk to your Canada customers.

Shipping direct to Canadian customers

Global businesses are looking for import shipping solutions to Canada. Jet provides assistance to international companies with both Canadian and American logistics solutions.

If sent direct to consumers, the consumer is the importer of record. A company receiving the consignment are the importer of record. Being the importer of record includes having to obtain an importer number.

Is There Anything I Can’t Ship to Canada?

Yes. All imports to Canada are subject to both prohibitions and restrictions. Items with restrictions include goods such as alcohol, furs, ammunition, and collectible coins, among other things. A higher level of compliance with Canadian law in necessary for these categories of goods.

International Shipping To Canada Air versus Ocean/ Surface

The best shipping option to Canada depends on several factors. In general, the lowest cost for small personal packages via local post surface options. For heavier shipments, economy air freight is a common option from overseas. Partial and full truckloads from the US is best for pallet cargo. Less than container and full containers via ocean are best large overseas orders.

Useful information: Things to know about Ocean Shipping To Canada.

Shipping Sea Freight versus Ocean Freight

With the many minimum surcharges for ocean shipments, shipping smaller consignments via air is cheaper. This is especially true for door to door shipping. Generally, shipments of less than 100 kilograms are cheaper via air. Cargo over 500 kilograms are much less expensive via ocean. 

What are the challenges of shipping to Canada?

High imports costs along with the complexity of import to Canada can seem daunting. For starters, Canada has a low duty free threshold versus the USA, Europe and the UK. Furthermore, ground shipments are subject to entry preparation fees. Express couriers also charge a disbursement fee. Package shipping to Canada can get expensive really fast.

Useful information: In depth review of Canadian Import Fees.

Other things to consider when shipping to Canada include:

  • Provincial licenses for selling direct to consumers.
  • Safe Foods for Canadians Act may apply for food items to Canada
  • Goods and Services Tax, Harmonize Sales Tax and provincial taxes (read about Canadian import fees)
  • Health Canada approvals for products
  • Tariff classification for all imports (read more about HS Codes)
  • Declare the Country of Origin
  • Valuation is an important part of the declaration to the CBSA (read more about valuation).
  • Labeling for goods to Canada may require both French and English.

Shipping to Canada from the U.S.

How to ship to Canada

Canada is nearby and the paperwork is not overwhelming. The proximity and land border makes it easy to ship via ground courier and truck load. Most Canadian residents live within 200 miles of the U.S. border.  Most Canadian consider online purchases from U.S. retailers and businesses.  

What is the shipping cost to Canada from the USA?

The main cost factors are the size and weight of your shipment and location in the USA.  The standard transit time for ground or trucking is usually within 1 week. Express courier can be as fast as next day to major Canadian cities.  Contact our team for price information.

Canadian customs forms necessary for shipments from the USA

All cargo from US to Canada must clear Canadian customs. A review of the most common forms necessary for import to Canada are inclusive in this guide. 

Useful information: Things to know about shipping from the USA to Canada.

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International Shipping to Canada: Local Post vs. FedEx, DHL, UPS

Local post, UPS, FedEx and DHL are all great options for shipping to Canada. Below we break down the price and transit times for these carriers when shipping a package to Canada.

  • Most International Postal Services have low cost "packet" options for shipments under 2 kilograms

What Will It Cost to Ship My Packages to Canada?

Shipping costs vary on the delivery service, weight, dimensions and other factors. Beyond shipping costs, duties, taxes, tariffs, and other fees are payable upon import to Canada.

* Note: Costs are representative costs only. Actual costs will varies according to the carrier, discount, fuel surcharge, and service options. The estimates represent a significant discount from carriers base rates. Read more about chargeable weight.

Companies seeking access to the USA via Canada

Canada represents a great opportunity for companies seeking access to over 35 million consumers and $2 trillion economy. Read more about Section 321 import to the USA.

Canada represents a great way to access the USA with the largest free trade border in the world. Jet Worldwide helps companies access Canada, the USA and North America via innovative logistics processes for parcels, pallets and online orders. Jet's e-commerce support includes reverse logistics, Canadian address receiving, and shipping globally.

Benefit from Canada's Free Trade Agreements

Canada has free trade agreements with the world's leading economies.

free trade vector-2 Read more about Canada's free trade agreements

Canada's Free Trade agreements include:

  • USA and Mexico (USMCA-CUSMA-TMec),
  • European Union (CETA)
  • The UK (CUKTCA),
  • Japan, Australia, New Zealand (CPTPP),
  • Korea, Israel, Colombia and others

certificate origin vector Benefit from a certificate of origin shipping to Canada

Carrier Options for International Shipping to Canada

As it is in all shipping, the “what” determines the “how”. At Jet Worldwide, our specialty is Canadian logistics support.

The global options for International shipping to Canada include:

  • Parcel Post: Parcel packet options are best for individuals shipping parcels under 2 kg and personal items to Canada. Some view Importing via Canada Post as subject to less oversight and fees.
  • Global Carriers: FedEx, UPS and DHL are global brands that offer international air shipping to Canada. Door to door delivery with customs entry preparation. Their capacity is available via shipping with these carriers direct or via their partners (see below).
  • Freight Forwarders: Shipping large commodities and ocean containers, freight forwarders and "third party logistics" (3PL) providers are a good option.
  • Special Carriers and Resellers: Jet Worldwide has longstanding global and regional partnerships. This, along with international expertise to assist with import and distribution.

International suppliers can have shipping options inclusive with the order. Other times, Canadian companies are responsible for arranging for transport or prefer at least to get a comparison shipping quote.

Regardless of the carrier or method of transport, the receiver of the goods is the importer. And the importer is responsible for the proper declarations and payment of duty and taxes.

Map showing Major Canadian sea ports

Shipping Air versus Truck or Ocean to Canada

In general, the lowest cost for small personal packages to Canada is via the local post. For heavier shipments, economy air freight is often the best option. Pallets and large commercial orders most ship via truck loads (from the USA and Mexico) and Ocean (from overseas).

Shipping LCL and FCL to Canada Sea Freight

Less than container load (LCL) is a good option for sending one or several pallets. The transit time for LCL is longer to account for loading and de-consolidation of the container. Full container loads (FCL) are the fastest shipping option via ocean. FCL can be via 20 foot or 40 foot containers.

ocean versus air graphic Things to know about Ocean Shipping To and From Canada

Canadian Customs Clearance and Paperwork

All cargo require clearance by the country’s Customs. Canada is no exception. It does have quite a few regulations around guaranteeing public safety, especially around imports.

Shipping from the United States to Canada

In addition to a bill of lading and applicable licenses, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) requires a Canada Customs Invoice (CCI).

Describing Your Items and value declaration for Canada Import

IMPORT DUTY VECTOR Understanding import duty

Product Description and HS Code

Canada adheres to the global Harmonize Tariff System. An item’s HS Code determines its duty, admissibility, and require an examination. Read More About HS Codes.

How-to-Video: HS Codes and Tariff Classification !

Download Accompanying PDF

Declaring the Country of Origin

Depending on the country of manufacture, goods may qualify for preferential duty free import to Canada. Canada's has Free Trade Agreements with most of the world's leading economies.

SHIP FROM ORIGIN From where goods are sent and their country of origin.

Understand Export Requirements before shipping to Canada

Export requirements are the responsibility of the shipper. It is useful to understand that some cargo to Canada may be subject to export requirements.

Valuation what value to declare

Most often, the value of the goods you are shipping is the Transaction Value. Meaning, the actual cost of the item. The declaration value to Canada customs is commonly the Transaction Value - or the price paid. The valuation can become less clear when, for example, a supplier is shipping you free samples or warranty parts. In this case, it’s best to use the value of similar items, as a zero dollar value is not acceptable to customs.

Useful Video: Declaring a Value for Shipping

Canada Customs Invoices (CCIs) for commercial shipments

Manifests or Cargo Control Documents (CCDs), which are sometimes necessary when shipping more than one package at a time.

invoice for customs Verify your Invoice for Customs

Using a Canadian Customs Broker

Although customs entry preparation customs clearance can be inclusive, importers often choose to use their own customs brokers.

customs brokers graphic vector image Canadian customs brokers.

Using a Canadian Freight Forwarder

For large volumes and shipping containers, importers often consider using a freight forwarders. They provide both ocean transit and inland transportation. Many have associations with customs brokers for a more seamless process.

Canada freight forwarders graphic imageCanadian Freight Forwarders.

Factoring in Canadian taxes and customs duty

Even with free trade agreements, duty and customs rules apply when forwarding packages to Canada. Notify your customers that custom taxes may apply. It is not the sellers responsibility to pay these fees (unless you offer DDP shipping). Verify Canadian import fees.

Generic Harmonize System (GHS) to Canada

Canada has a tariff classification process for postal and courier imports. The system is in lieu of a more detail classification. This a great benefit for e-commerce imports. Useful information regarding HS codes to Canada.

import clearance graphic vector Common Canadian Import Fees to consider

Canadian duty assessment is on the item’s HS Code, Country of Origin and Valuation. Goods may qualify for preferential duty free import via one of Canada's many free trade agreements (see section above).

Understanding the Shipping Terms to Canada

In most cases, items to Canada ship Delivery Duty Unpaid (or DDU*). The Canadian buyer is responsible for payment of import fees. Prepaid shipping does not include prepaid duty. International shippers who send, for example, samples or warranty parts to Canada may want to consider shipping their goods Delivery Duty Paid (or DDP*).

*DDU and DDP are terms known as Incoterms®., a trademark of the International Chamber of Commerce / ICC. It is useful to at least understand the existence of Incoterms and visit ICC’s website for further explanation.

terms of sale inco terms Verify the Correct International Shipping Terms.

Low Value Duty Free Threshold to Canada

In general, the duty free threshold to Canada is CA$20. It is higher for goods that ship from the USA and Mexico. This is thanks to the CUSMA free trade agreement. Read more about low value thresholds and Canadian import fees.

Canada imporrt de minimis values graphic

Canada's Low Value Shipment program

The Canada Low Value Shipment (LVS) program is a customs program. It streamlines processing of low value courier consignments to Canada. The program applies to shipments CAD$3,300 or less.

The LVS program makes it easier for importers to import low value shipments. Express processing and ensuring payment of duties and taxes. It reduces the administrative burden on importers and helps facilitate trade to Canada.

CIF cost insurance freight vector Confirm the correct value for shipments to Canada.

Under the Canada LVS program, importers provide a summary declaration. This includes information about the importer, the supplier, and importing goods. The summary declaration must submit through the Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system.

CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management System

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Assessment and Revenue Management (CARM) facilitates the importation of goods to Canada. CARS streamlines the payment of duty, application of HS codes and entire import process for commercial goods. Read more about CARM.

Foreign companies becoming a Canadian Importer or Record

Canada’s non-resident importer program enables foreign companies to obtain a business number and act as the “importer of record.” Being able to act as the importer of record removes the burden of customs clearance from the Canadian customer and can facilitates the sale.

non-resident-importer-graphic Import information about valuation for non-resident imports

E-commerce to Canada Managing Canadian Returns

International companies shipping to Canada need a solution to manage returns. This can be as simple as having a Canadian address.

Manage your Amazon Canada Removal Orders: Jet can receive, store, consolidate, ship or dispose of your Canadian Amazon returns.

Have your receipt of returns for consolidation. In addition, we can provide product kitting, repacking and reconditioning.

Jet Worldwide provides shipping solutions to the USA via Canada. Contact our team for details.

Useful "How to Ship" Videos

Shipping Globally to Canada via Jet Worldwide

Jet Worldwide global-Canadian international shipping solutions for over 40 years.

  • Jet Worldwide provides options for shipping between the world and Canada for parcels, pallets, Freight and online orders.
  • E-commerce logistics support
  • LTL Shipping options from USA to Canada
  • Jet Worldwide offers transparency and world class logistics support.

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Canada has trade agreements with most of the world's major economies. The good news is that Canada’s newest Free Trade Agreements make declaring a Country of Origin much easier by allowing the Certification of Origin to be included on the shipping paperwork. The ability to ship Canada Origin goods to over 30 major economies duty-free is a major competitive advantage for Canadian Companies. If you’re a Small Business Shipping Internationally, getting familiar with the available Free Trade Agreements can make it easier to reach foreign markets and can save your international customer import duty (and ultimately lower the cost of your product). Learn more about Shipping from Canada to other parts of the world, as well as Importing into Canada.

Jet Worldwide's logistics team is committed to helping Canadians expand to global markets by shipping to and from Canada. Our online resources reflect our best-in-class logistics to facilitate the international movement of goods. In our posts, we provide an extensive review of things to consider when shipping.

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