Guide To Shipping From The US To Canada In 2020

Shipping from US to Canada? Follow this step by step guide

The demand for cheap, efficient and hassle-free shipping from the US to Canada has significantly risen in the past few years. Why? When it comes to international trade, no country has more to offer than Canada. When we talk about eCommerce in Canada, we are referring to a market where at least 88.5% of the population has access to the internet — that is, 31 million online consumers. All you need to do is acknowledge that shipping from the US to Canada means you will be playing by a whole new set of rules.

Total value of U.S. trade in goods (export and import) with Canada from January 2017 to June 2019

Canada is one of the most significant trading partners of the US with more than $1.8 billion worth of trade being exchanged between the two nations every day. Canada has diverse industries such as aerospace, automotive, mining and renewable energy with a GDP of $1.7 trillion. Furthermore, the US accounts for nearly 75% of all of its exports making it Canada’s largest trading partner. We have compiled a handy guide for eCommerce businesses that wish to foray into the Canadian market.

What are the challenges of shipping from the US to Canada?

High cost combined with the complexity of shipping to Canada from the US,  fulfilling orders to the Great White North can be a daunting task. For starters, you must know that Canada’s complex import duty tax is different from the US. They essentially thrive on what is called a low de minimis system which implies any item if valued over $20CAD will get additionally hit with import duty and tax. Further, most express couriers will charge surcharges and handling fees. In simpler words, package shipping to Canada can get expensive really fast.

On the other hand, if you do not choose a reliable service, postage to Canada can be less efficient and take longer than usual. The unavoidable Canadian customs are likely to delay your shipments further. In this highly prompt digital backdrop that demands 24-hour/same-day delivery and instant gratification, selling online to the Canadian market can be challenging.

What is the cheapest way to ship to Canada from the US?

There are a handful of international mail services that you can use when shipping to Canada. If you are shipping lightweight items under 4 pounds, the cheapest shipping to Canada is generally via the USPS. Once they cross the border the parcels and packages are handed over by the USPS to the Canada Post for final delivery. It can take about 2 to 3 weeks to make final delivery although first class mail international doesn’t have an estimated delivery time frame. On the contrary, priority mail international promises a 6 to 10 day delivery for priority shipping to Canada. 

Shipping from the US to Canada with USPS


For packages over 4 pounds, FedEx and UPS are good premium options for getting your packages delivered to Canada. When you are shipping to Canada they tend to offer more day-definite delivery. Generally, shipments to Canada can take 2 to 6 days for the final delivery. Services that are efficient, speedy and cost-effective equivalent of USPS priority mail are UPS Standard and FedEx International Ground for effective ground shipping to Canada

FedEx shipping to Canada cost is relatively lower. However, these are in regards to the base rates provided by UPS and FedEx. Chances are these rates will vary accordingly. You must also note that both UPS and FedEx charge additional fees apart from the delivery fees. They are not included in the initial rate and may be due to oversized/awkwardly sized packaging, improper packaging or when a weight threshold is exceeded. 

Source: FedEx

The cheapest way to send a package through UPS is by UPS standard shipping to Canada which delivers directly to the recipient’s door across all Canadian provinces. The rates, however, are not inclusive of the duties, tax, customs clearance or handling fees. When using FedEx, you must remember that their international ground service is the most affordable way to ship to Canada. They also claim shipping to Canada is faster through their international economy service. 

Shipping options from the US to Canada with UPS

Source: UPS

Canadian Customs Clearance and Paperwork

All parcels need to be cleared by the country’s Customs and Canada is no exception. It does have quite a few regulations around guaranteeing public safety, especially around imported goods. 

Here are a few points to consider when shipping to Canada from US:

1. You will need to declare the goods that are contained in your package. 

2. You need to complete your automatically generated customs invoice. Ensure you fill out each and every section and with as much detail as possible- mistakes will only lead to delays and more additional fees. 

3. The authorities will additionally need to calculate how and tax and duty needs to be applied to your goofs and declaring the value of the same is also very significant. 

4. Anything worth over $20 CAD will be subject to tax and duty. The goods and service tax is set at 5% which is applied to any and every import valued more than the said amount. 

If your shipments need to be delivered at the earliest, it’s best to provide all the additional details with your customs paperwork. For instance, if you are shipping books, Canadian customs will probably require their titles before they are cleared. You may require an import license in some cases to import into Canada. This depends on the type and purpose of the import. 

Restricted or Prohibited Items

It is highly advisable to check the recipient country’s prohibited and controlled items list before booking to eliminate the possibility of delay or surprise charges. 

  • Tobacco items of any form are prohibited 
  • Although Canada post allows special permitting for day-old chicks/hatching eggs, bees, leeches, etc live animals are also a no-no. 
  • Certain plants are prohibited. It’s ideally best to check with Canada post directly
  • Currency. 
  • Packages that emit a foul odor or are wet. 
  • Any kind of gambling items.

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Canada is an affordable, flourishing international market to break into. Location and language make the Canadian market a lucrative option for US businesses. But by knowing and planning the costs involved upfront you can offer the best rates for your international customers. 

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