Understanding the Cost to Ship to Canada: What You Need to Know Before Expanding Internationally

Understanding the Cost to Ship to Canada: What You Need to Know Before Expanding Internationally
In the age of eCommerce, businesses are no longer confined to their local markets. The ability to reach consumers globally has opened up new opportunities for companies to expand their reach and increase their profits. With its close proximity to the United States and large population, Canada is an attractive market for many eCommerce businesses looking to expand internationally. However, before companies can begin selling to Canadian consumers, it is essential to understand the cost to ship to Canada. Shipping rates, taxes, customs fees, and packaging requirements are just a few factors that can impact this cost. This post will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the cost of shipping to Canada to help businesses make informed decisions before expanding internationally.  

Main factors that impact the cost to ship to Canada

Several factors, including the weight and size of the package, the shipping distance, the shipping method and speed, and any additional services such as insurance or tracking, impact the shipping cost. The delivery destination can also affect shipping costs, with international shipping typically being more expensive than domestic shipping. Additionally, carriers may charge different rates depending on their pricing structures and discounts.

Goods and packaging

Shipping costs can vary widely depending on a variety of factors. Distance, weight, dimensions, shipping speed, and even the type of commodity being shipped can all impact the final shipping cost. Understanding these factors is crucial in determining the most cost-effective shipping options and avoiding unexpected fees and charges for businesses looking to ship to Canada. By taking the time to research and compare shipping options, businesses can ensure that they are getting the best possible rates and providing their customers with reliable and affordable shipping options.


Package size is one of the main factors determining the shipping cost. Shipping carriers often charge based on dimensional weight, which considers both the weight and size/volume of the package. This means larger packages may cost more to ship, even if they weigh less than a smaller package. For example, a large, lightweight package may cost more to ship than a smaller, heavier package. Different carriers may also have different rules for the maximum size of boxes they will send


The weight of a package is another key factor that impacts shipping costs to Canada. Generally, the heavier the parcel, the more expensive it is to ship. This is because shipping carriers often charge based on weight bands (rates valid for item weights up to a certain value),. For example, shipping a package weighing 10 pounds to Canada will generally cost more than sending a package weighing 5 pounds.


One of the most significant factors impacting shipping pricing is the distance the parcel travels from origin to final destination. Generally, the farther the package needs to travel, the higher the shipping cost. This is especially so for international shipments because shipping carriers factor in the distance when determining their rates. For example, shipping a package from the United States to Canada will typically cost more than sending a parcel within Canada due to the increased distance. Shipping carriers often divide destinations into different shipping zones, each with its associated costs.

Taxes and Duties

It’s also  essential to understand the different taxes and duties that may apply to your shipment. Canadian taxes and duties are fees that the Canadian government imposes on imported goods. The two main types of taxes that may apply to your shipment are the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and excise taxes. Duty fees may also apply, depending on the type of goods being shipped. GST/HST is a value-added tax for most goods and services sold or consumed in Canada. The tax rate varies depending on the province or territory where the goods are shipped. Duty fees may apply to certain goods shipped, such as textiles, footwear, and certain types of machinery. You can use the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) online duty and tax shipping calculator to calculate the taxes and duties that may apply to your shipment. This tool allows you to enter the country of origin, the value of the goods, and the type of goods being shipped, among other details, to determine the estimated taxes and duties that may apply. It’s important to note that these calculations are only estimates. The actual fees may vary depending on different factors, such as the customs officer’s assessment and any additional fees or charges that may apply.

Customs fees

Customs fees are often an additional expense that businesses must consider. These fees are charged by the Canadian government to cover the cost of processing and inspecting imported goods. Companies should be aware of several customs fees and charges, including clearance, brokerage, and disbursement fees. The customs broker or carrier charges clearance fees to process the shipment through customs. These fees are typically based on the value of the shipped goods and can vary depending on the page or broker being used. The customs broker charges brokerage fees for their services in preparing and submitting the necessary customs forms on behalf of the importer. The carrier sets disbursement fees for advancing the payment of duties and taxes to the Canadian government on behalf of the importer. These fees are typically calculated as a percentage of the duties and taxes paid. To calculate the customs fees for a shipment to Canada, businesses should consider the value of the goods being shipped, the country of origin, the weight and dimensions of the package, and any applicable duties and taxes. Customs fees can vary depending on the carrier, broker, and other factors, so shopping around and comparing rates is important to find the best option for your business.  

Tips to avoid unexpected charges when shipping to Canada

When shipping internationally, various charges may be applied to your package, and unexpected fees can cause additional costs and delays. To avoid these incidental charges, it is essential to understand Canadian packaging and labeling requirements. The packaging requirements for shipping to Canada typically involve using sturdy, tamper-resistant materials that can withstand the rigors of international transport. Packages must also be appropriately labeled with the recipient’s full name, address, phone number, and the sender’s details. In addition to packaging requirements, you should  familiarize yourself with Canadian labeling regulations. These requirements vary depending on the nature of the product being shipped and may include specific warnings or instructions. For example, certain products may require bilingual labeling or unique markings indicating that they are hazardous materials. By understanding these regulations and requirements, you can ensure that your packages meet all necessary standards and avoid any unexpected fees or delays. Overall, working with a reputable shipping provider is important to help you navigate these requirements and ensure your packages are correctly labeled and packaged for international transport. Additionally, taking the time to research the specific regulations and requirements that apply to your products can help you avoid unexpected fees and ensure a smooth shipping experience.  

Understanding your shipping options to Canada and the cost of each

When preparing a shipment, make sure you understand the different shipping options available to you and the associated costs. The most common shipping options include standard, expedited, and priority shipping. Each option comes with different costs and delivery times, so it’s important to compare them carefully and choose the one that best suits your needs. Standard shipping is the most affordable option but has the longest delivery time, while expedited shipping is a bit more expensive but offers faster delivery times. Priority shipping is typically the most costly option but provides the quickest delivery times. When choosing a shipping option, consider factors such as the value and urgency of the package, as well as your budget.

Shipping within Canada

For Canadian customers looking for the cheapest way to ship, the standard shipping service offered by Canada Post is usually the most cost-effective option. This shipping service is often based on package size and weight and may provide flat-rate boxes or options for specific package sizes. Delivery dates may take longer than other options, but it is the most economical. If you need faster delivery options, expedited and priority mail international shipping services are also available. Canada Post and USPS offer priority mail international service, with shorter delivery times but at a higher cost. Priority mail international service offers delivery dates and options which are more predictable than standard mail options.

Shipping to Canada from the US

First class and priority mail are popular delivery options when shipping from the USA. Priority mail offers flat-rate boxes and shipping for specific package sizes, which can help save costs. However, flat-rate boxes may not always be the cheapest shipping option. It is important to note that some items may be prohibited from shipping, so it’s best to check with the postal service for the list of prohibited items. Shipping labels must also be carefully filled out and attached to the package correctly. Remember that the final cost may include customs fees, taxes, and other charges, so factor those into your shipping cost calculation. Also remember that delivery dates are estimated and based on business days.  

Let ePost Global find the best shipping option for you

Navigating all the different factors that can impact shipping costs can feel daunting. However, the process can be much smoother with the help of ePost Global’s dedicated customer support team. From choosing the proper packaging to selecting the best shipping option for your needs, our experts guide you every step of the way. At ePost Global, we believe that shipping doesn’t have to be complicated, and we are committed to helping businesses of all sizes succeed in international markets. So if you’re looking for a partner who can help you navigate the ins and outs of international shipping to Canada, look no further. Book a call with a shipping specialist to get started.
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