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How to Ship Freight to Canada

Knowing how to ship freight to Canada is vital for both businesses and individuals. When you need to move goods across borders, it’s essential to use reliable, secure a


Canada Cross Border Freight
October 1, 2019
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Knowing how to ship freight to Canada is vital for both businesses and individuals. When you need to move goods across borders, it’s essential to use reliable, secure and trusted shipping methods and carriers. Although cross-border shipping can be complex, the right shipping services will ensure your freight is moved swiftly and safely. 

When goods are shipped across the Canadian border, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for ensuring shipments are classified correctly and that the appropriate tariffs have been paid. Knowing how to ship freight to Canada efficiently requires an understanding of how the CBSA operates and what regulations are in place.

Required PaperworkRequired Paperwork

Shipping freight from the United States across the Canada border requires a certain amount of paperwork to be completed and submitted. Similarly, when you’re shipping freight to Canada from an international location, you’ll need to ensure the relevant paperwork has been completed. 

Typically, you will need to submit a bill of lading, commercial invoices and a shipper’s export declaration (SED). In addition to this, a Canada customs invoice (CCI) is required if your freight shipment is valued at CDN $1,600 or more. 

Furthermore, you’ll need to determine whether your shipment is subject to any additional rules or restrictions. An import/export license may be required for some shipments, for example, while a NAFTA certificate of origin is required to ship certain goods across the border

Submitting the required documentation is essential if you want your goods to pass through customs without delay. Generally, incorrect paperwork or incomplete documents are responsible for many shipping delays. 

Due to the complexity in assessing what paperwork is required for each shipment, it can be useful to seek advice from an experienced freight shipping firm. With a dedicated customs broker, for example, you can obtain customs clearance quickly and easily. 

Do I Need to Work With a Customs Broker?

Shipping goods to any international location can be tricky if you don’t have extensive experience or expert knowledge. With numerous laws, regulations, and rules to abide by, it’s easy to make a mistake when it comes to classifying and declaring your freight. 

When planning freight shipping to Canada, for example, you’ll need to confirm that your shipment doesn’t contain any prohibited goods. In addition, you’ll need to assess whether any of your goods require specific licensing or declarations. 

In general, the value of your shipment will affect the type of documentation you need to submit too, and standard paperwork, such as a bill of lading and commercial invoices, should be included with every shipment. 

With so many regulations in force and numerous forms to complete, obtaining customs clearance isn’t always easy. If you inadvertently submit the wrong documents, for example, your shipment won’t make it through customs. 

When goods are stopped at customs, it can cause significant delays to your shipment. In some cases, border services and authorities will seize the shipment until the appropriate paperwork has been submitted. In such cases, you may be required to pay for storage until you’re able to obtain the relevant documentation. 

Shippers can also attract fines and levies when they don’t submit the correct paperwork, so supplying the wrong documents can be a costly mistake. In some instances, shipments can even be seized and destroyed if the correct paperwork doesn’t accompany them. 

When you work with a customs broker, however, you can minimize the risk of such delays and fines. A customs broker knows exactly how to ship freight to Canada, regardless of what your shipment contains and where it originates from. With an intricate and detailed knowledge of the regulations, a customs broker can ensure your shipment crosses the border without delay. 

Some of the advantages of working with a customs broker include:

  • Avoidance of delays
  • Risk management
  • Compliance with customs regulations
  • Advice regarding minimizing customs levies and charges
  • Shipment preparation
  • Completion and submission of the relevant paperwork
  • Electronic submission of appropriate documentation
  • Faster border crossing
  • Overall reduction in costs 

Who Pays For Duties and Taxes on the Goods?Who Pays For Duties and Taxes on the Goods

If you plan on sending shipments to Canada, you’ll need to be aware of the tax implications. When importing goods across the Canadian border, they will typically be subject to duty and tax. Generally, it is the importer who is responsible for paying these levies. If you’re shipping to Canada, for example, you’ll need to calculate the appropriate amount of tax and ensure it’s paid.  

However, there isn’t one flat rate of duty or tax. In fact, the amount of duty which needs to be paid depends on a variety of factors including:

  • The tariff of the goods you’re importing
  • The value of the shipment
  • The origin of the goods you’re sending

Furthermore, you’ll need to consider whether your shipment will be subject to the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and/or the Provincial Sales Tax (PST). 

While all shipments will be subject to duty and tax, there are certain exemptions that may apply. When you’re importing computers and related equipment, for example, you may benefit from a 0% rate of duty, effectively making the import duty free. 

In addition, the origin of the goods you’re shipping could have a significant impact on the amount of duty which needs to be paid. If the goods have been made in the United States of America, Canada or Mexico, for example, you’ll pay no duty on them, providing they are accompanied by a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) certificate. 

Although many shipments can be imported on a duty-free basis, the relevant documentation must still be provided. Of course, even duty-free shipments still attract GST, HST and/or PST, so the relevant amount of sales tax due will need to be calculated and paid. 

As the importer, you are liable for paying the appropriate amount of duty and tax, as well as classifying your goods correctly. Of course, appointing a customs broker to handle your tax and duty can make the shipping process far easier and faster. 

Pre-Clearing a Shipment Through PARS

The Pre-Arrival Review System, or PARS, is designed to streamline the customs process. As a result, transit times can be reduced, and freight can be shipped without delay. When using PARS, the following processes are undertaken:

  1. Your shipment is prepared, and the relevant documentation is completed.
  2. The importer or their customs brokers sends documentation to Canada Customs while it is still in transit. 
  3. Canada Customs review documentation before goods arrive at the border.
  4. Canada Customs decide whether shipment should be cleared for movement or inspected.
  5. Shipment arrives at the border. 
  6. If no inspection is required, the shipment is cleared straight away and can continue to the destination.

Border crossing without using PARS can be time-consuming. When PARS isn’t used, customs officials won’t receive your documentation until your shipment actually reaches the border. This paperwork will need to be examined before customs personnel can decide whether your shipment should be cleared on inspected.

By using PARS, however, you can ensure that Canada Customs have the relevant documentation prior to the arrival of your goods. This makes the border crossing much faster and, as a result, ensures your shipments are moved on as quickly as possible.

Which Border Crossing Will My Freight Go Through?Which Border Crossing Will My Freight Go Through

There are 119 border crossings between the U.S. and Canada, but not all of these permit the transportation of commercial goods. When freight is shipped via road from the U.S. to Canada, major crossings are typically used. These include:

  • Calais, ME/St. Stephen, NB
  • Blaine, Wash./Pacific Highway, BC
  • Derbyline, VT/Stanstead, QC
  • Sweetgrass, MT./Coutts, AB
  • Champlain, N.Y./Lacolle, QC
  • Pembina, ND./Emerson, MB
  • Alexandria Bay, NY/Lansdowne, ON
  • International Falls, MN / Ft Frances, ON
  • Buffalo, NY/Fort Erie, ON (Peace Bridge)
  • Detroit, MI/Windsor, ON
  • Lewiston, NY/Niagara Falls, ON (Lewiston Bridge)
  • Port Huron, MI/Sarnia, ON

When considering how to ship freight to Canada, it’s important to determine the appropriate crossing depending on the route your shipment will take. In order to facilitate the fastest transportation route, the exact border crossing used will depend on where your goods are being shipped from and where their exact destination is. 

Of course, effective freight services don’t rely solely on land crossings when shipping goods from the U.S. to Canada. International shipments routinely arrive at seaports and airports too. With the options to send goods via air travel or by sea, your shipment may be subject to border checks at seaports and airports across Canada too.

How Many Carriers Will I Need to Work With?

Depending on where you’re dispatching freight from and where it’s going to, you could choose to use numerous carriers. However, the risk of delays or damage increases if you choose to use a variety of carriers when transporting freight. 

Instead of relying on various freight forwarders to manage your shipments, using just one carrier can be beneficial. As well as accessing speedier services, the safety and security of your shipment can be prioritized by your carrier. As such, they will take responsibility for your goods throughout the transportation process, which gives you peace of mind when you’re shipping goods to Canada. 

Managing any supply chain can be difficult but things get more complex when you’re importing goods across international borders. By selecting just one carrier, you can benefit from door to door freight shipping, faster transportation, and reduced delays. Furthermore, shipping freight to Canada with just one carrier minimizes the amount of preparation you need to undertake as the importer and enables you to access cheaper shipping rates. 

How Quickly Will My Goods Cross the Border?How Quickly Will My Goods Cross the Border

Getting your goods across the border needn’t be time-consuming or cause delays. With electronic documentation submission and the use of PARS, your customs broker can minimize the time it takes for cross-border authorization to be obtained. 

However, the rest of the route is extremely important when considering how long it will take for your shipment to arrive at its destination. In order to determine the most suitable form of carriage for your shipment, you’ll need to assess various factors, such as:

  • How urgent the shipment is
  • What the shipment contains
  • How large your shipment is
  • What your budget is

How to Ship Freight to Canada Quickly

Knowing how to ship freight to Canada means understanding the different shipping routes available and what they mean for your shipment. If you want to get your goods to their destination as quickly as possible, shipping via air is likely to be the quickest option available. Depending on the size of your shipment, charter flights can be arranged to ensure delivery occurs quickly and efficiently.  

Of course, there are various other ways to ship freight to Canada too. For smaller shipments, transportation by road is the most popular way to move goods. Known as less than truckload (LTL) or partial truckload, your shipment is combined with others to reduce the cost of transporting your goods.

In many cases, intermodal shipping is used to facilitate fast deliveries. Intermodal freight shipping involves the use of two or more shipping methods. Your shipment may be transported to the airport via truck, for example, flown to an airport in Canada, and then shipped to its final destination via truck.

By combining a variety of shipping services, you can find the most efficient and budget-friendly option when it comes to shipping freight to Canada. 

Choosing a Shipping & Logistics Company

Shipping services can vary dramatically, so there is lots to consider when you’re choosing a shipping and logistics company. When you’re learning how to ship freight to Canada, for example, you’ll need to assess companies based on:

  • Their rates
  • Reliability and reputation
  • Experience
  • The services they offer

Choosing a shipping and logistics company that offers a wide range of services is generally beneficial. If your chosen shipping firm can arrange shipping via air, land, and sea, for example, you can always access various different transportation methods. Similarly, you can use a mix of express services and low-cost shipping options, depending on each particular shipment.

Of course, you won’t want to pay over the odds when you’re shipping freight to Canada. Whether you’re moving goods across the U.S./Canadian border or sending a shipment from a different continent, you’ll want to find a shipping and logistics company that offers competitive rates.

When you’re shipping goods commercially, your company’s reputation and operational success depend on the professionalism of your shipping firm. Regular damage to goods, lost shipments or frequent delays can lose your company money, so it’s vital your chosen shipping firm has a stellar reputation, is utterly reliable and has extensive experience in the industry.

As well as assessing the transportation services offered by your shipping and logistics company, it’s important to consider any additional services they can provide. An in-house customs broker can streamline the freight shipping process, for example, and make it easier to arrange shipping. 

In addition to this, shipping firms that offer electronic data interchange (EDI) can deliver real-time shipment information. This enables you to track your shipment at every stage of its journey and access the data you need, whenever you need it. 

A shipping and logistics firm is an integral part of your supply chain, so it’s worth taking the time to find a carrier you can rely on. With the right shipping and logistics company in place, you can arrange seamless freight shipping to Canada and any other locations you want to import goods to.

Ship Freight to Canada with R+L Global Logistics

With an extensive range of services and in-house experts on hand to assist with shipping arrangements, R+L Global Logistics can handle domestic and international freight shipping. When you need to send goods to Canada, R+L Global Logistics can ensure that your shipment will arrive safely and securely to states such as Montana and cities near the border like Ogdensburg.

In addition to offering chartered air services and standard air transported, R+L Global Logistics provides transportation via land and sea. From LTL and partial truckloads to exclusive use and intermodal transport, R+L Global Logistics will find the most efficient way of transporting your shipments. 

If you need to transport fragile or restricted goods, we’ve got the in-house expertise to provide the help you require. Our fleet and transport options ensure we can provide temperature-controlled transportation, additional security and non-flight freight transport for goods that cannot be transported by air. 

What’s more – our dedicated customs brokerage means we can handle every element of your freight shipping. Helping you to access the most efficient shipping routes and minimizing your tax liability, we’ll ensure you enjoy stress-free shipping. 

As a member of various industry associations and commissions, R+L Global Logistics is a leader in the industry. Delivering competitive rates, specialist shipping services, in-house customs brokerage, electronic data interchange, and warehousing, we offer warehousing, logistics and full supply chain management.

Whether you need to ship equipment to Canada as a one-off or you’re looking for a long-term logistics partner, we’ll be happy to provide the services you require. If you want to know how to ship freight to Canada, talk to us today! R+L Global Logistics knows how to ship freight such as alcohol to Canada. Call now at 877-510-9133 to find out more or to arrange freight shipping to Canada.

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