Shipping from Canada to the US: A Step-by-Step Guide for Smooth Cross-Border Transactions

FEROZ MIR
Jul 13, 2023 • 6 Min read
Shipping from Canada to the US Thumbnail

As an eCommerce store owner in Canada, expanding your market to the United States can be game-changing for your business. However, cross-border shipping isn’t as simple as sending your products to fellow Canadians. 

In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide to navigating the Canada-US logistics of international shipping -  so that you can ensure a seamless cross-border transaction process that delights your customers and grows your business!

Table of Contents

  • Understanding the International shipping process from Canada to the US and its essential components
  • Selecting the appropriate shipping partner
  • Filling out the necessary forms
  • Assessing the dimensions and weight of your package
  • Safely packaging and preparing your items for shipment
  • Dispatching them with confidence!

Step 1: Learn About the Process

Before you embark on shipping from Canada to the US, it's crucial to understand this International shipping process and be prepared. 

International shipping process from Canada to Us

Several factors can impact your shipping experience, including import taxes, restrictions, time frames, and estimated costs. Let’s learn more. 

Import Taxes

When shipping from Canada to the US, your shipments may be subject to import taxes, also known as duties and taxes. These charges are levied by the US government on imported goods based on factors such as the value and type of the product. 

To avoid surprises, you can calculate estimated duties and taxes using these online calculation tools:

Fortunately, most products are covered by the free trade agreement between the US and Canada (& Mexico), CUSMA. 

Restrictions

Certain products are subject to restrictions or require special permits. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations that may affect your products, and require additional documentation or face restrictions. These include:

  • Firearms
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Certain agricultural products 

Time Frames and Estimated Costs

The time it takes for your shipment to reach its destination and the associated costs can vary depending on the shipping method and distance. Let's consider a few examples to provide you with a clearer picture and some estimated numbers. 

  • Shipping from Toronto to Miami: For small packages sent through a courier service, you can expect a transit time of approximately 2-5 business days. The cost may range from $20 to $50, depending on the weight and dimensions of the package.
  • Shipping from Toronto to New York: The transit time for small packages is usually 1-3 business days. The cost can range from $15 to $40.
  • Shipping from Vancouver to New York: With the longer distance, small packages typically take 3-7 business days to arrive. The cost may range from $30 to $60.

Of course, you can pay for faster shipping, but you would likely be tripling these quoted costs (or more!). 

Step 2: Choose the Right Shipping Partner

Finding the right shipping partner is crucial for a smooth cross-border shipping experience, so consider partnering with established couriers that specialize in Canada-US cross-border shipping. 

Right Shipping Partner from Canada to the US

Some reputable couriers that offer shipping services from Canada to the US include:

UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Canada Post. For each we will compare the estimated shipping timeframe and cost for each from Toronto to New York, for a small package (5lbs). 

UPS

  • UPS offers a variety of shipping options, including UPS Standard, UPS Worldwide Expedited, and UPS Worldwide Express
  • Pricing depends on factors such as package weight, dimensions, destination, and the chosen service level
  • Example: our package would take an estimated 4 business days, and cost around $25 with UPS Standard. 

FedEx

  • FedEx provides services like FedEx International Ground, FedEx Express, FedEx International Economy, and FedEx International Priority, 
  • Rates are determined by package weight, dimensions, destination, and the selected service
  • Example: our package would take an estimated 3 business days, and cost around $27 with FedEx.

DHL

  • DHL offers services like DHL Express Worldwide and DHL eCommerce
  • Pricing depends on package weight, dimensions, destination, and the chosen service level
  • Shipping a small package (1 lb) from Toronto to New York can cost around $25 to $35 with DHL Express Worldwide.
  • Example: our package would take an estimated 3 business days, and cost around $41 with DHL. 

Canada Post

  • Canada Post provides various shipping options, including Tracked Packet USA, Small Packet USA Air, and Xpresspost USA
  • Rates are determined by package weight, dimensions, destination, and the selected service.
  • Example: our package would take an estimated 3 business days, and cost around $32 with Canada Post. 

These are just estimates, but give you an idea of the ranges of offers out there. Most couriers have their own built in shipping cost estimator, so make sure you explore the different options before you choose which one to partner with. 

Step 3: Complete the required forms

To ship from Canada to the US, you will need to complete certain forms and provide accurate information about your shipment. Some common formal entry requirements include:

Commercial Invoice

  • This document provides a detailed description of the goods being shipped, including their value, quantity, and country of origin.
  • It serves as a crucial customs document and helps determine the appropriate duties and taxes.

CUSMA Certification of Origin

  • The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is a free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. NAFTA may sound more familiar, and this agreement replaced it. 
  • CUSMA allows for reduced rates on tariffs or duty-free benefits. This form must be completed to claim these benefits. 

Step 4: Determine the Size and Weight of your Package

Before shipping, it's essential to determine the size and weight of your package accurately. 

Let's consider an example of shipping a laptop from Toronto to Los Angeles to illustrate the importance of accurately determining the size and weight of your package.

Let’s suppose we are shipping a laptop, and go through the process:

Size and Weight

The laptop's weight is 4lbs, and its dimensions are 14" x 10" x 1.5". This information will help you choose the appropriate packaging materials and select the right shipping service.

Packaging

You would need to choose a box that can accommodate the laptop securely. It should provide enough space for padding materials to protect the laptop during transit. You might consider using bubble wrap or foam inserts to safeguard the laptop from potential damage.

Choosing the Shipping Method

Based on the laptop's weight and dimensions, you can select an appropriate shipping method. For instance, if you prioritize speed, you might opt for a faster express service. Alternatively, if cost-effectiveness is your priority, you might choose a standard shipping option.2

Calculating Shipping Costs

With accurate weight and dimensions, you can use the courier's online shipping calculator or consult with a representative to calculate the shipping costs. The courier will consider the package's weight, dimensions, destination, and selected service level to determine the cost.

Step 5: Securely Package Your Items

Proper packaging is crucial to protect your items during transit. Some tips include:

  • Use sturdy boxes or envelopes appropriate for the size and weight of your products.
  • Ensure fragile items are wrapped and secured with protective materials like bubble wrap or foam inserts.
  • If shipping multiple items, consider individually packaging them to prevent damage from shifting during transport.
  • Make sure you have the required forms ready, and attach them to the outside of the box so that they can be accessed by customs officials. 
  • Clearly label your package with both the sender's and recipient's information for easy identification.

Step 6: Send em' off!

Once you've completed the previous steps, it's time to send your package on its journey.

  • Schedule a pickup with your chosen shipping partner or drop it off at a designated location.
  • Obtain a receipt or tracking number to monitor your shipment's progress and provide your customers with updates.

*Shortcut Option*

While you are definitely capable of owning and implementing a great cross-border shipping process - there is a shortcut option that could save you time and money. 

By partnering with a trusted 3PL, like us here at eShipper, you can skip out on most of these steps and allow us to handle the paperwork, customs requirements, and Canada-US logistics for you, allowing you to focus on the growth of your business. 

We have special partnerships with the same courier services mentioned above, with up to 70% off on all major carriers. 

For example, that same package we were sending to New York from Toronto could take __ days, and cost only __!

Reach out to us and we can take the US by storm together.

Bottom Line

Shipping from Canada to the US can be a seamless process with the right knowledge and preparation. Or with the right partner

If you’re doing it by yourself, it's important to understand the process, select a reliable shipping partner, complete the necessary forms, accurately determine package size and weight, and securely package your items.

Alternatively, partnering with eShipper can simplify this international shipping process, while also providing you with competitive rates. 

Either way, we wish you the best of luck and hope you can delight customers on both sides of the border!

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