How To Ship to Canada

Navigate shipping to Canada confidently with Mochila. Our expert guide simplifies the process and highlights how we can help your brand succeed.

Jim Sharkey
October 17, 2023
Navigate shipping to Canada confidently with Mochila. Our expert guide simplifies the process and highlights how we can help your brand succeed.

In today's global ecommerce market, the ability to ship packages and products internationally is crucial for brand growth and customer satisfaction. As an ecommerce brand, expanding your shipping to include Canada can open up a whole new market. However, the process can be complex, with various customs rules and shipping regulations.

At Mochila, we've spent the past decade helping modern brands handle every aspect of their ecommerce fulfillment, including international shipping. With my background in order fulfillment at Amazon and Mochila, I understand firsthand the intricacies of international shipments and the importance of getting it right. This guide will break down the process of shipping to Canada, providing you with expert advice and practical tips.

What Should Brands Know About Shipping to Canada?

Shipping to Canada differs significantly from domestic shipping. To ensure a smooth process, it's important to understand these differences and prepare accordingly. 

One key aspect to consider is customs. Every shipment to Canada must go through customs clearance, where it's subject to duties and taxes based on its value and origin. Misunderstanding or miscalculating these costs can lead to unexpected charges, shipment delays, or even refusal at the border.

Another crucial factor is the shipping carrier. Different carriers offer varying services, rates, and delivery times for international shipping. Researching and selecting the right carrier and shipping options for your needs can significantly impact shipping efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, Canada has specific shipping regulations and restrictions, including prohibitions on certain items and packaging requirements. Familiarizing yourself with these rules can help prevent shipping delays or issues with customs clearance.

It's also crucial to manage your customers' expectations. International shipping often takes longer and can be more unpredictable than domestic shipping. Clear communication about expected delivery times and potential customs charges can help maintain a positive customer experience.

How To Ship to Canada Step by Step

If you plan to expand your brand’s reach to our northern neighbor, follow this step-by-step guide to shipping to Canada.

Choosing a Reliable Shipping Carrier

The first step is selecting a carrier that suits your needs. Factors to consider include shipping rates, tracking capabilities, and customer service.

Major carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL all have robust international shipping services. However, comparing their offerings is vital to ensure you get the best value and service. Always consider your product's size, weight, and value when evaluating carriers. For example, American brands can opt for USPS Priority Mail Express International if they prefer flat-rate shipping. Or you may already be familiar with FedEx’s International Economy.

Whichever carrier you choose, you need to balance expected delivery times with customer expectations. Know how many business days you’ll need to account for when selecting international ground providers. Give your customers several delivery date options as well so they can decide which additional fees they’re willing to pay.

Understanding and Correctly Filling Out Customs Forms

Every package shipped to Canada must be accompanied by a customs form. This form, also known as a commercial invoice, provides detailed information about the package's contents and value, which is used to determine the customs duties and taxes.

The form typically requires the following information:

  • Sender and recipient contact information
  • Detailed description of each item in the package
  • The value of each item
  • Country of origin of each item
  • Harmonized System (HS) code for each item

The HS code is a standardized numerical method of classifying traded products. Customs authorities around the world use these codes to identify products and apply the correct tariffs, duties, and taxes.

It's crucial to fill out this form accurately and truthfully. Any inaccuracies can lead to delays, additional charges, or seizure of the package by CBSA, the Canada Border Services Agency.

Calculating Import Taxes and Duties

When shipping to Canada, your package may be subject to import taxes and duties as well as handling fees from Canada Post. Duties are typically a percentage of the item's value, while taxes are a percentage of the item's price plus the duty. These charges are calculated based on the package's value, the HS code of the items, and the country of origin.

In some cases, you may choose to use a service known as Delivery Duty Paid (DDP), where you, as the shipper, pay the duties and taxes upfront. This can help prevent unexpected costs for your Canadian customers and ensure a smoother delivery process. However, it can also increase your shipping costs, so factoring this into your pricing strategy is important.

Packaging Considerations for International Shipping

Proper packaging is essential for international shipping. Your package will likely be handled multiple times and may be subject to rough treatment during transit — it’s crucial to ensure your items are well-protected.

Use sturdy boxes and ample cushioning material, and consider double-boxing fragile items. Also, ensure your packaging complies with any specific regulations or restrictions. For example, certain materials, like untreated wood, are prohibited due to potential pest risks.

Understanding Canada's Specific Shipping Regulations and Restrictions

Canada has specific regulations and restrictions regarding what can and can't be shipped into the country. Certain food products, plants, animal products, and other items are prohibited or restricted.

In addition, certain items may require additional documentation or permits. For example, electronics and certain types of equipment may need to comply with Canadian safety standards and require certification.

It's crucial to research these regulations and ensure your products comply. Failure to do so can result in your shipment being held or rejected at the border, leading to delays and additional costs.

Do You Need a Fulfillment Partner To Ship to Canada?

As you've seen, shipping to Canada involves navigating complex regulations, forms, and potential challenges. That's where a fulfillment partner like Mochila can make a significant difference.

We're not just a fulfillment center — we're your partner in creating a seamless retail experience for your customers, no matter where they're located. Our approach is rooted in expertise, personalization, and a deep understanding of each brand's unique needs.

At Mochila, we leverage our extensive experience in ecommerce fulfillment to guide brands through their shipping solutions. We handle the details so you can focus on what you do best — creating and selling great products.

Our services include helping you choose the best shipping carrier for your needs, managing customs paperwork, calculating and handling import taxes and duties, and ensuring your packaging is suitable for international transit.

But our services go beyond just logistics. We also help you navigate shipping regulations and restrictions wherever your product needs to go. We're familiar with the ins and outs of what can and can't be shipped and can advise you on any additional documentation or permits you may need. 

The Bottom Line

Canada shipping can be complex, but with the right knowledge and a reliable partner like Mochila, it's entirely manageable. By understanding the intricacies of delivery options and leveraging our personalized, expert services, you can expand your brand's reach, enhance your customer experience, and drive growth.

When you choose us, you get a small, expert team that you'll always have a direct line of communication with. If you have a problem or question, you won't be dealing with a faceless call center — you'll be talking directly with me or one of my experienced team members.

We also offer our own software to streamline the fulfillment process. This technology allows us to efficiently manage inventory, process orders, and track shipments, ensuring your products get to your customers in a timely manner.

If you want to expand your business to Canada, reach out today to speak with me or one of our team members.


U.S. Customs Forms | USPS

Importing goods into Canada | Canada Border Services Agency

Importing by mail | Canada Border Services Agency

What you can bring to Canada | Government of Canada

Deliver Duty Paid (DDP) Definition | UPS Supply Chain Solutions

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