Branching north into Canada can be a great opportunity for US e-commerce merchants. E-commerce sales in Canada have been steadily climbing, and according to one study, are estimated to hit $33.3 billion (USD) in 2024. So, whether you’re planning to start shipping to Canada in the near future—or you’d just like to refine your existing international shipping practices—it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the different requirements and responsibilities that are expected of US businesses shipping into the country.
Shipping to Canada: The Basics
US sellers have a number of different service options when it comes to shipping to Canada. Yet, with so many choices comes the potential for confusion. Let’s start with some basic questions.
Is There Anything I Can’t Ship to Canada?
Short answer, yes. Shipping to Canada is subject to both prohibitions and restrictions. Prohibited items include goods such as alcohol, furs, ammunition, and collectible coins, among other things. Shipping restrictions control—but do not outright prohibit—the shipment of other goods as well. For instance, drugs and medicines can be shipped into Canada, but they must comply with Canadian law.
For more information, check out the USPS’s full list of Canadian shipping restrictions.
What Paperwork Do I Need to Ship Into Canada?
All shipments into Canada must include customs documentation, with the exception of shipping envelopes weighing less than 16 oz. (although some restrictions may apply). You can find blank customs forms on shipping providers’ websites (here are FedEx’s forms, for example), or a shipping software solution can help in pre-filling the relevant forms for you.Depending on the shipping provider you use, you may be able to submit your customs information online via EDI (UPS) or ETD (FedEx). You can also complete your forms online via USPS.
The specific customs forms you’ll need to complete will vary based on your shipment type and shipping partner, but may include:
- Bills of Lading (BOLs)
- Commercial Invoices (CIs)
- Canada Customs Invoices (CCIs), for commercial shipments valued over $2,500CAD
- Manifests or Cargo Control Documents (CCDs), which are sometimes required if you’ll be shipping more than one package at a time (as in the case of contract customers shipping via Canada Post)
- Proof of Delivery (POD), if this isn’t handled directly on the BOL
- Electronic Export Information (EEI) forms, which replace the former Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) form for controlled exports
- Import permits, for items that fall under Canadian Other Government Department (OGD) regulations
- NAFTA Certificates of Origin, if your goods are NAFTA-eligible
High-volume e-commerce shippers may also find this guidance from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) helpful.
What Will It Cost to Ship My Packages to Canada?
Shipping costs vary based on the delivery service you use and are just one cost component when it comes to shipping to Canada. Beyond shipping costs, duties, taxes, tariffs, and other fees must be paid on most goods imported into Canada, with a few exceptions.
Duties, Taxes, and Tariffs
Goods sold into Canada may be subject to duties and taxes, including:
- Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Harmonized Tax (HST), which combines both GST and provincial taxes in some Canadian provinces
- Provincial Sales Tax (PST), for provinces not covered by a harmonized tax
- Quebec Sales Tax (QST), a taxation scheme used in Quebec province
- Items valued at $20 CAD or less, excluding intoxicating beverages, cigars, cigarettes, manufactured tobacco, publications where the supplier is required to register under the Excise Tax Act, and goods that are split into multiple shipments to get under this limit.
- Gifts from family or friends who reside outside of Canada, that are valued below $60 CAD. These gifts must be sent personally and be explicitly labeled as a gift.
Sellers should confirm that their shipments meet current CBSA exemption guidelines; accidentally (or intentionally) mislabeling shipments as exempt items or gifts can result in penalties. Tariffs may also apply to the mailing of goods containing components manufactured outside of the US.
Beyond duties, taxes, and tariffs, US shippers may encounter a number of different fees when shipping into Canada.
For example, take the handling fees and customs brokers’ fees assessed by postal services or courier companies. For these, Canada Post charges a handling fee of $9.95 CAD per dutiable or taxable mail item. Other carriers may assess their own fees as well.
Who Pays for These Obligations?
Generally, duties and taxes can be paid by the sender, recipient, or a third party. Shipping partners commonly offer senders the option to select who will be responsible for the payment of customs duties and/or taxes. If you plan to assign responsibility to a third party, you’ll likely need to specify their payment account number when executing your shipment. Further, keep in mind that, if recipients or third parties fail to pay duties and taxes, you—as the sender—may still be responsible for them.
Regarding payment of Canadian sales taxes (GST, HST, PST, and/or QST), be aware that, although Canadian consumers are ultimately responsible for the payment of these taxes, you may be required to collect and remit them directly to the Canadian government.
For instance, if you ship more than $30,000 CAD of goods into Canada over a four-quarter rolling period, you may need to obtain a Canadian Business Number and register to collect taxes directly. You may also need to register if you “have a nexus” in Canada; for example, if you have a Canadian bank account or conduct any local advertising. There are a few exceptions to these guidelines. Companies selling into British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec may be required to register for and remit PST, regardless of size. Sellers of zero-rated supplies, on the other hand, may be exempt from tax collection requirements.
Regardless of whether your business collects duties, taxes, tariffs, or fees directly—or if it passes them on to buyers—what’s important is that you’re upfront with buyers on your policies and expectations. Clearly state on your website’s product pages, checkout flows, and help desk or support sections which party will be responsible for each fee. If possible, converting fees to CAD before checkout will help buyers understand the full cost of a purchase in order to avoid confusion and frustration.
Canada Shipping Provider Options
The following Canada shipping service options are provided as a starting point only. Please consult each provider’s requirements and restrictions to ensure your shipment qualifies for the individual services described here.
Also note, that this list is not comprehensive. Other Canada shipping options are out there and may be appropriate for your shipping needs.
USPS and Canada Post
USPS shipping to Canada is a great option for light parcels under 3 lbs. However, be aware that USPS is not a door-to-door provider in Canada. USPS mailings are handed off to Canada Post upon entry into the country.
Popular Service Offerings
|Global Express Guaranteed||Priority Mail Express International||Priority Mail International||First-Class Mail International|
|1-3 business days||3-5 business days||6-10 business days||Delivery times vary|
Along with FedEx’s International Ground service, UPS Standard Delivery is a good choice for mailing parcels greater than 3 lbs in weight, as they offer fast service and can guarantee delivery dates in many cases.
Popular Service Offerings
|UPS Worldwide Express Plus||UPS Worldwide Saver||UPS Worldwide Expedited Shipping||UPS Standard Delivery|
|Next business day||Next business day||2 business days||3+ business days; from 48 contiguous US states only|
Like UPS’s Standard Delivery service, FedEx’s International Ground to Canada service is a good choice for less-urgent shipments for which you still need the certainty of day-definite delivery.
Popular Service Offerings
|FedEx International First||FedEx International Priority||FedEx International Economy||FedEx International Ground to Canada|
|1-3 business days||1-3 business days||2-3 business days||2-7 business days|
DHL Express offers a suite of next-day offerings that can reach major Canadian business centers as early as 9:00 am on routes that guarantee next-day delivery.
Popular Service Offerings
|DHL Express Worldwide||DHL Express 9:00||DHL Express 12:00|
|Next business day||Next business day; before 9:00 AM||Next business day; before 12:00 PM|
No matter how you choose to handle your Canadian shipping requirements, don’t think of this as a “set it and forget it” decision. Regularly re-evaluate the providers and delivery services you use to ensure you’re successfully balancing both expenses and customer experiences.
Shippo can help you streamline both domestic and international shipments—and save you money in the process.
You need three pieces of paperwork when conducting business across the border: a bill of lading (BOL), a Canadian Customs Invoice, and a NAFTA certificate of origin. It is essential to ensure all your documentation gets correctly completed to avoid delays in transit and delivery.What do I need to know before shipping to Canada? ›
- Bill of Lading (BOL). This lists the goods that are carried in the shipment. ...
- Canada Customs Invoice (CCI). This is needed when shipping from the US to Canada. ...
- Commercial Invoice. This is needed when shipping from Canada to the US. ...
- Proof of Delivery (POD). ...
- Certificate of Origin.
Duty Free Threshold Shipping to Canada from the USA
As part of the USMCA (the "new NAFTA), Canada raised the low value duty threshold ( de minimis threshold) to $150 CAD (around $110 USD). Local sales taxes will still apply (but often times, businesses can claim this charge back).
Items You Cannot Import Into Canada Include:
Counterfeit goods. Anything made or crafted in prisons. Used mattresses or cushioning from used mattresses. Items that misrepresent their place of origin.
All shipments into Canada must include customs documentation, with the exception of shipping envelopes weighing less than 16 oz. (although some restrictions may apply).What information do you need to ship a package? ›
- Address and phone number of the recipient (must be a physical address for UPS, FedEx, and DHL)
- Contents of the package (if already packed and sealed)
- Value of the items.
- When you would like the package to arrive.
If you want to avoid paying duty on shipped items, you can: ensure the shipped goods were made in a country with which Canada has a trade treaty, ensure the sender includes an invoice, self-clear your shipment, have your items sent as a gift, or use a shipping platform for complete tax visibility.Is there customs from US to Canada? ›
You can claim goods up to CAN$200 without paying any duty and taxes. You must have the goods with you when you enter Canada, and tobacco products or alcoholic beverages are not included in this amount. If you bring in goods worth more than CAN$200, you have to pay full duty and taxes on the total amount.How much does it cost to ship a package from US to Canada? ›
|UPS Standard||$29.00||3 days|
|FedEx International Ground||$29.00||2 days|
|Flat Export Rate||$28.89||2 days|
Formal Entries: If your goods are valued at more than $2500, or for commercial textile shipments (clothes/materials) regardless of value, you will be required to file a formal entry, which can require extensive paperwork and the filing of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection bond.
There is no way to avoid customs duties, customs officers will check all items entering the country and charges will be applied where necessary. If you simply put 'gift' on the customs invoice, this does not mean it will not attract duty as they will still check the value of what is in the box.How do you avoid import charges? ›
Tell the seller explicitly that the item is for personal use. Import duties typically apply to items imported for commercial use (business or resale)—not personal or retail sales. If you're importing something for your own personal use or as a gift for someone else, you don't have to pay them.What items are prohibited from shipping? ›
- Alcoholic beverages*
- Animal products, non-domesticated (e.g. mother of pearl inlay, snakeskin watchband)
- Articles of unusual value.
- Biological substances, Category B and exempt human or animal specimens.
- Dangerous goods.
- Electronic cigarettes.
- Firearms and weapons.
Even better, shipping from the US to Canada is made even easier because of NAFTA. Both countries can freely ship products between their borders (with some exceptions that most ecommerce companies don't have to worry about).Can I send snacks to Canada? ›
Shipping Food To Canada
All food imports to Canada are controlled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and they require some additional paperwork to be attached to your food parcel.
The cheapest way to ship to Canada is by using the United States Postal Service (USPS). Packages are shipped via USPS to the Canada Post (Canada's postal service) which handles the final delivery of the package. Learn more about shipping to Canada via USPS.What documents do I need for customs clearance? ›
- Commercial Invoice. This document is used for foreign trade. ...
- Packing List. Provided by the shipper or freight forwarder, the packing list may be used by customs to check the cargo. ...
- Bill of Lading (BOL) ...
- Arrival Notice.
Customs forms need to be attached to the outside of your item with all relevant fields completed. You are responsible for ensuring a fully complete Customs Form is attached to your item. Any items with incomplete or absent customs forms are likely be returned to the sender so it's important you get it right.Can I handwrite a shipping label? ›
Can I handwrite a shipping label? You can handwrite the shipping address (as long as it's eligible), but you will still need a carrier barcode, which needs to be generated by the carrier. Depending on the volume of orders you're fulfilling, handwriting shipping addresses can become time-consuming.Can I use any box to ship USPS? ›
Yes, so long as you're not shipping via Flat Rate. If you're shipping Priority Mail Commercial from home, you can use any box you want. Just be sure to remove any old postal barcodes or labels.
Choose a box strong enough to hold the contents. That means it shouldn't have tears, rips, bends, or other damage. You can use your own box or UPS packaging supplies. Ideally, you'll want to use a new corrugated box.How much does it cost to ship a package from US to Canada? ›
|UPS Standard||$29.00||3 days|
|FedEx International Ground||$29.00||2 days|
|Flat Export Rate||$28.89||2 days|
Benefits of using FedEx to ship packages to Canada
Coverage to 100% of Canadian business and residential addresses. Time-definite delivery in 2 to 7 international business days. Flexible brokerage options. 24/7 shipment status tracking.
Send 1 oz letters or postcards around the world with one Global Forever® stamp, which currently costs $1.40 and never expires, even if the postage price goes up. For large envelopes (flats) up to 15.994 oz, postage prices vary based on weight and destination.How do you write address from US to Canada? ›
Write delivery address
Include the following information on separate lines: Recipient's full name or company name, full street address, city, subdistrict (such as province, state, county), and postal code, Canada.
The cheapest way to ship to Canada is by using the United States Postal Service (USPS). Packages are shipped via USPS to the Canada Post (Canada's postal service) which handles the final delivery of the package. Learn more about shipping to Canada via USPS.How much does USPS cost to ship to Canada? ›
USPS Shipping Rates 2021
It starts at $67.80 for a 0.5 lb package going to Canada. This service takes only 1-3 business days, with overnight delivery often possible to Canada.
- Step 1: Where, What, & How Much Can You Send? ...
- Step 2: Choose an International Shipping Service. ...
- Step 3: Prepare Your Box. ...
- Step 4: Write the Address. ...
- Step 5: Calculate & Apply Postage. ...
- Step 6: Create Your Customs Forms & Labels. ...
- Step 7: Send Your International Shipment.
|Shipment Value$||Our Flat Clearance Fee$||Courier's average brokerage fee + extra added fees|
UPS Shipping to Canada
Shipping with UPS to Canada has never been easier – or faster. UPS Standard shipping to Canada guarantees delivery to most major Canadian cities within 5 business days. According to the UPS website, Standard is as fast or faster than FedEx International Ground on 84% of the US to Canada lanes.
FedEx Express pays the duties and taxes owed to the Canada Border Services Agency on your behalf and charges the Disbursement Fee for this service. The fee is based on the total amount of the duties and taxes advanced, and will be billed to the party designated to pay the duties and taxes.How do I know how much postage to use? ›
- Navigate to the USPS Postage Price Calculator page. ...
- Enter the details of your letter or package. ...
- Select the shipment type. ...
- Compare shipping options. ...
- Add Extra Services. ...
- Hit “Continue” for your result. ...
- Pay for shipping and print postage for your shipment.
International mail. For mail going outside of the United States, you can use Forever Stamps or a Global Forever Stamp, which currently cost $1.20 each. If your letter is one ounce or below, you will need one Global Forever stamp or three Forever Stamps.Can I send a letter to Canada with US stamps? ›
For just 1 $1.40 First-Class Mail International Global Forever stamp, you can send a 1 oz letter or postcard to any other country in the world. Put stamps in the upper right corner of the envelope. (For postcards, put the stamp in the space provided near the delivery address.)How do I label a Canada Post package? ›
- Write in uppercase letters (also known as block letters).
- Put information such as title or floor above the street address.
- Put a hyphen between the unit/suite/apartment number and the street number. ...
- Abbreviate the street type. ...
- Abbreviate the street direction.
Return Address: A return address is optional. It provides the recipient with an option to respond to the sender if needed. The correct location for this is on the addressing side, in the top left-hand corner.