How to Ship to Canada: A Cheatsheet for eCommerce Businesses

How to Ship to Canada: A Cheatsheet for eCommerce Businesses
In recent years, eCommerce businesses have experienced unprecedented growth and expanded their global reach, providing consumers with access to a broader range of products and services than ever before. With Canada being one of the largest trading partners of the United States, shipping to Canada has become an essential consideration for eCommerce businesses looking to expand their reach and tap into the Canadian market. However, the process can be complex, with various customs regulations, product restrictions, GST, HST considerations  and duties. In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide addressing how to ship to Canada, to help your business reach new customers.   

Pre-shipment preparation

If you’re a business preparing for a new shipment, it’s essential to research your shipping options carefully to ensure a smooth and cost-effective process. It’s important to understand your market and consider different shipping rates, delivery times, and any additional fees or services that carriers may charge. You may also need to obtain special permits or licenses for certain goods, so research any specific requirements for your shipment. By preparing and understanding the shipping process, you can ensure a successful shipment to Canada and a positive customer experience.    

Understanding the Canadian market

The Canadian market presents a significant opportunity for eCommerce businesses looking to expand their reach. The Canadian economy is the tenth-largest in the world. Its proximity to the United States and its high level of trade integration make it an attractive market for businesses looking to expand into new markets. The Canadian market is diverse and includes a range of industries, such as healthcare, technology, and natural resources. Additionally, the country’s highly educated and affluent population makes it an ideal market for businesses looking to target consumers who value quality and are willing to pay a premium. The demographics of the Canadian market are also a key consideration for eCommerce businesses looking to expand into the country. Most of the Canadian population resides in urban centers, with the largest cities being Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. The population is predominantly English and French-speaking, with a significant proportion being bilingual. Canadian consumers are also highly connected and tech-savvy, with a growing preference for online shopping. They value convenience and expect free shipping with fully landed costs and hassle-free returns. eCommerce businesses looking to enter the Canadian market must consider these demographics and preferences to tailor their products to meet Canadian consumers’ unique needs and preferences.  

Familiarizing yourself with Canadian customs regulations

In addition to understanding your new target audience, it’s also important to understand any rules and regulations that come along with shipping internationally. Familiarizing yourself with Canadian customs regulations is essential for any business that wants to expand their reach. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) uses the customs clearance process to inspect and approve all incoming shipments, ensuring that they comply with Canadian laws and regulations. The customs clearance process involves several steps, including verifying the shipment’s contents, inspecting the goods, access to the seller’s website for declared value confirmation and assessing any applicable duties and taxes. It’s important to note that this process can be time-consuming, so it’s best to plan to avoid delays in shipping. One of the most critical aspects of the customs clearance process is ensuring you have all the necessary documentation. Required documents can include a commercial invoice, bill of lading, and certificate of origin. It’s crucial to ensure that all of your documents are complete and accurate to avoid delays or customs clearance issues.  Customs fees ,duties and taxes are another important consideration when shipping to Canada. These fees and duties are based on various factors, including the type of goods being sent, their value, and the country of origin. It’s vital to accurately declare the value of your goods on your commercial invoice to ensure that you are assessed the correct fees and duties. Failure to properly report the value of your goods can result in penalties or even the seizure of your shipment by customs.  

Choosing an international shipping option 

When choosing a shipping option for international shipping, it’s essential to research and compare rates, delivery times, and other factors to find the best choice for your business. This includes considering the cost, speed, reliability, and tracking capabilities. If you need a package to arrive quickly, you may want to consider a carrier that offers expedited or overnight shipping options. Alternatively, if cost is your primary concern, you may want to consider a carrier that offers lower rates or discounted shipping options Overall, the cheapest way to ship to Canada will depend on the package size, weight, and delivery options. And cost often comes in compromise with price. For example, you may find that priority mail international may be the fastest option, but it may also come at a higher cost than other shipping services. Ground service may be cheaper, but delivery times may be longer. You can find the most cost-effective and reliable option for your business by researching and comparing different shipping options. It’s also important to consider the cross-border tariffs and shipping costs that may apply. Some carriers may offer discounted rates for certain shipping services, such as international ground or first-class mail. Flat-rate shipping may also be available for specific package sizes or weights, which can help shippers save money. You can find this information by checking with the carrier or post office for a complete list of available shipping services and rates.

Most common shipping options

The leading international shipping options for an e-commerce business are standard, expedited, and express. Standard shipping is the most affordable option and typically takes the longest delivery time, from several days to weeks, depending on the destination. Expedited shipping is a bit more expensive but offers faster delivery times ranging from a few days to a week. Express shipping is the quickest option, delivering packages within a few days but it also comes with the highest cost.  eCommerce businesses should consider the pros and cons of each shipping option when shipping internationally, as well as the associated costs and delivery times, to ensure they are meeting their customers’ expectations and staying competitive in the global market. Additionally, e-commerce businesses should be aware of customs fees or taxes that may apply when shipping internationally and include those costs in their pricing strategy.  

Shipping the product

Once you’ve researched and chosen your product’s shipping option, it’s time to get it ready to ship. This includes ensuring the correct packaging requirements, materials, and labels.    

Canadian packaging and labeling requirements

When expanding to a new market, knowing the country’s packaging and labeling requirements is essential. Canada has size and weight limits for packages that vary depending on the shipping carrier. For example, Canada Post has a maximum weight limit of 30kg per package, while other final mile carriers allow for up to 68kg. Similarly, size restrictions can vary depending on the carrier and shipping method, so it is important to research and confirm these details before shipping. In addition to size and weight restrictions, Canada has specific labeling and marking requirements for imported goods. These requirements include bilingual labeling (English and French), product-specific labeling for particular items such as food and pharmaceuticals, and specific information such as the product’s country of origin and manufacturer information. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in delays or additional fees, so it is important to ensure that all labeling and marking requirements are met.

Tips for meeting shipping requirements

To meet Canadian shipping requirements, ensuring your products are packaged correctly for international shipping is important. This includes using sturdy packaging materials to protect your items during transit and adhering to size and weight limits. You should also ensure that your packages are properly labeled and marked with the necessary information, such as the recipient’s address and a customs declaration. When packaging your products for international shipping, using materials that will protect your items during transit is important. This may include bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or other cushioning materials. You should also ensure your packages are properly sealed and taped to prevent them from opening during transit. Additionally, you may want to consider using tamper-evident packaging to provide security for your products. Overall, taking the time to package your items properly can help ensure that they arrive at their destination in good condition.

Dropping off your packages 

Once you have packaged your product according to Canadian shipping requirements, it’s time to drop it off for international shipping. You can drop off your package at a postal office, courier service center, or shipping carrier’s drop-off location. Double-check the shipping carrier’s pickup times to ensure your parcel will be delivered within the expected timeframe. Ensure you have completed all necessary documentation and labeling, including customs forms and a commercial invoice. It’s always a good idea to keep a record of your package’s tracking number and estimated delivery date in case any issues arise during the shipping process.  

After-Shipment Follow-Up

After shipment, follow-up is a critical aspect of running a successful e-commerce business. By tracking packages and proactively communicating with customers, companies can provide a positive experience and build customer loyalty. 

Tracking the shipment

Tracking your shipment is an essential aspect of international shipping. Most shipping carriers provide tracking services that allow you to monitor the progress of your package in real time. This can help you stay current with the delivery status and estimated delivery date. You can track your shipment by entering the tracking number on the carrier’s website or mobile app. Some carriers also offer email or text notifications for shipment updates so that you can stay informed even on the go. In case of any issues or delays, it is essential to have a plan in place. The first step is to contact your shipping carrier to get more information about the wait and see if they can offer any assistance. It is also a good idea to have a backup plan if the package is significantly delayed or lost in transit. This can include having a replacement package ready to ship or offering refunds to customers. Proactively tracking and handling any issues can help ensure a smooth and successful international shipping experience.

Handling customer inquiries

When shipping to Canada, it’s important to be prepared for customer inquiries related to customs, duties, and fees. Common questions and concerns from customers may include how long the shipping process will take, the expected delivery date, and any potential fees or taxes they may be responsible for. To address these concerns, it’s important to communicate clearly and concisely with your customers, providing them with tracking information and estimated delivery dates. In the case of customs, duties, and fees, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the regulations and requirements for international shipping to Canada. This will allow you to address any customer inquiries related to these topics confidently. If a customer is responsible for paying customs or duties fees, it’s important to communicate this upfront, so there are no surprises. Additionally, it’s crucial to have a plan in place for handling any issues or delays that may arise during the shipping process, so you can quickly and efficiently address customer inquiries and provide the best possible customer experience.  

Shipping to Canada with ePost Global: A hassle-free solution

International shipping to Canada can be complex, especially for e-commerce businesses. However, with the help of ePost Global, companies can ensure a smooth and hassle-free shipping experience. From planning and packaging to navigating taxes and customs, ePost Global’s dedicated customer care representatives can handle all aspects of the shipping process. By entrusting your shipping needs to ePost Global, you can focus on running your business and leave the logistics to the experts. Contact ePost Global today to start shipping to Canada with confidence. Book a call with a shipping specialist to get started.
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