Tips and Requirements for Shipping to Canada from the United States

US e-commerce merchants have a huge market waiting for them in Canada. Exploring this market opportunity is a great idea that many business owners nurse. However, the challenges associated with e-commerce require proper planning to ensure business success. Businesses need to properly plan how their products get to their customers, how to maintain customer satisfaction, and which companies in the US ship to Canada. These important factors and more need to be solved before businesses can tap into the growing e-commerce market in Canada.

A recent study estimates that the Canadian e-commerce market will likely hit $33.3 billion (USD) by 2024. With the enormous growth potential and undeniably expanding market scene, the Canadian e-commerce scene should be on every company’s radar. As a business owner in the United States, you should know what aspects of your business to refine, the shipping practices, and how to navigate the entire system.

The Basics of Shipping to Canada

When it comes to shipping products to Canada, US-based businesses can explore various options. It is left to each business owner to detect which option works best for them and how they intend to adapt existing practices into their business pipeline. Although there are many choices to pick from, how do you avoid trial and error and the losses of choosing the wrong shipping option? Below, we will tackle some basic questions that can guide you.

Are there products I can’t ship to Canada?

Yes. Canada is like many other countries with fairly strict shipping laws and practices. As a business owner, you should know the products that cannot be shipped to Canada based on restrictions and prohibitions. For example, Canada prohibits alcohol, ammunition, furs, collectible coins, etc. The prohibition means that this category of products cannot be shipped into the country.

Aside from the prohibition, the country also has shipping restrictions on some unprohibited goods like medicines and drugs. This shipping control may make it harder to provide medicines and drugs to consumers in Canada from the US.

Before you explore shipping goods into Canada, it is recommended to explore the full list of Canadian shipping restrictions and prohibited items.

What Paperwork do I need to ship goods into Canada?

All goods must have a customs declaration to ship them to the Canadian borders and market. The only exceptions are goods or envelopes weighing less than 16 oz (please note that some restrictions may apply according to Canadian law).

To get started, you can visit any shipping or logistics service provider’s website to download their customs documentation. You can also use a software solution to help in pre-filling the relevant information onto the document, especially if handling large orders. Submitting the documents may be physical or virtual, depending on the choice of logistics and shipping provider.

Please also note that the customs documents needed for shipping into Canada may vary based on the goods shipped, shipment type, and your logistics provider. Some of the basic documents you may need include;

  • Bills of Lading (BOLs)
  • Canada Customs Invoices (CCI), for commercial shipments worth over $2,500CAD.
  • Commercial Invoices
  • Electronic Export Information (EEI) forms. This replaces the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) form for controlled exports.
  • Import permits. Specifically for products that fall under the Canadian Other Government Department (OGD) regulation.
  • Manifest or Cargo Control Documents (CCDs). Required if shipping more than one package at a time.
  • NAFTA Certificates of Origin. For NAFTA-eligible goods.
  • Proof of Delivery (POD), in the event it isn’t handled directly on the Bill of Lading (BOL)

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Packages to Canada?

Shipping costs are largely due to the goods shipped, the logistics partner, weight, and classification. The shipping cost to Canada will include other things like duties, tariffs, taxes, and other fees. Other things to take into consideration include;

Duties, Tariffs, and Taxes

Goods imported into Canada may be subjected to duties and taxes, including;

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Provincial Sales Tax (PST) for provinces not covered by a harmonized tax
  • Harmonized Tax (HST), combines Goods and Services Tax (GST) and provincial taxes in some Canadian provinces.
  • Quebec Sales Tax (QST), for goods destined for the Quebec province.

Entrepreneurs and business owners can further research applicable taxes by provinces to get an idea of what they should expect. With the GST tax reigning supreme, some of the few exceptions, according to the CBSA, include;

  • Items valued at $20 CAD or less that aren’t intoxicating beverages, cigarettes, cigars, publications where the supplier requires registration under Excise Tax Act, manufactured tobacco, and goods split up under multiple shipments but under the $20 CAD limit.
  • Gifts from friends and family located outside of Canada and valued below $60 CAD. To qualify, these items must be correctly labeled as gifts.


Asides from the tariffs, taxes, and duties, US business owners and shippers also need to consider associated fees. For example, your logistics partner often assesses customs brokerage fees and handling fees. These fees may range from $9.95 CAD above, depending on the goods being shipped.

Who Pays Duties, Fees, Taxes, and Tariffs?

Duties and taxes are often paid by the sender (the e-commerce business or the individual). These amounts can also be paid through a third party, for instance, a logistics partner. On the other hand, logistics companies often help senders to select the responsible payment party for customs duties or taxes.

If you plan to assign these amounts to a third party, for instance, the receiver, you may inform your shipping partner ahead of time to ensure that appropriate paperwork is prepared for it.

It is important to note that Canadian sales taxes may be required from the sender. This is besides the fact that Canadian consumers may be responsible for such payments. For clarity, you may need to work closely with the consumer to ensure these amounts are properly remitted to the government.

Shipping to Canada can be stressful if you’re handling the process on your own. There are many logistics providers who will happily take on the stress at a fraction of the cost. To begin shipping to Canada, visit



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