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Shipping Equipment to Canada: What You Need to Know

There is a lot of confusion that surrounds shipping equipment to Canada. Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land, so it has naturally become a popular s


Canada Cross Border Freight
October 1, 2019
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There is a lot of confusion that surrounds shipping equipment to Canada. Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land, so it has naturally become a popular shipping destination. Canada is the northern neighbor to the U.S, and with the shared culture, language and healthy economic relationship, it appeals greatly to those appealing to established and brand new exporters or equipment, machinery and more.

Before you begin thinking about shipping equipment to Canada, you should consider checking all restrictions and rules with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). You’ll need a few documents when shipping equipment to Canada. These documents include:

  • Commercial Invoice or Canada Customs Invoice
  • Manifest or Cargo Control Document
  • Bill of Lading
  • Shipper’s Export Declaration

Making sure you have the right documents in place can make cross border equipment shipping easier.

Permits Will Be Needed

When you are shipping equipment to Canada, you are required to have a permit for certain goods. Canada has imposed import controls over a wide range of goods, and there is an Import Control List (ICL) that details all of those items. 

The ICL is an important part of the Export and Import Permits Act. For example, firearms are controlled, as are dangerous chemicals. It’s worth checking whether you need one when you are shipping equipment to Canada, especially as there is also a waiver of an import permit for the goods in Para 70 – firearms and their parts – if they are used for sporting and recreational use. 

An import permit is issued depending on the authorization in accordance with the Import Permit Regulations and these are issued in the Office of Global Affairs Canada, based in Ottawa.


U.S. exporters need to have a Canada Customs Invoice that has been filled out correctly. Any mistakes can mean a rejected shipment, which makes this the most important document that an exporter can have! Other than the Canada Customs Invoice, exporters need to have Form B3 ready. Form B3 is the customs coding form. You can read more about this form on the CBSA website.

Other documents that need to be provided could include the Cargo Control Documents and a Bill of Lading. There are some goods that have different requirements they are subjected to and they may need permits.


There is an Export Control List that identifies specific goods that have to be controlled for export from Canada to other countries. Your equipment might fall on this list. Some of the products that are subject to control include:

  • Military goods and equipment
  • Technology and computer equipment
  • Softwood lumber
  • Forearms
  • Products containing sugar
  • Pure sugar
  • Logs
  • Products originating from the U.S.

Additionally, the following documents are needed with every import coming into the U.S., including fruits and vegetables:

  • Customs bond
  • Bill of Lading
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Arrival notice

Transit Time Will Be IncreasedTransit Time Will Be Increased

Shipping equipment to Canada takes some time depending on the weight of the load. Heavier loads often need to move more slowly and there will be an increase in the transportation time due to crossing the border, too. Freight may also need to travel a little further out of the way, due to the increased weight or size. However, this does depend on the origin of the freight and the destination of the equipment itself. 

Time Restrictions 

You may have a time restriction on the shipment that you put together when shipping equipment to Canada. If this is the case, ensuring that you have sent your shipment with enough time in case of delays is important. As we mentioned, heavier loads take longer to deliver, and in some cases, the load has to go out of its way purely because of the size. Factoring this in when you are shipping to Canada is going to save you a lot of time.

Escort/Pilot Vehicles

Pilot car drivers travel in the front or the back of a truck to ensure that your oversized truckload reaches the destination safely. You might need a pilot or escort vehicle when shipping heavy-haul and oversized items like machinery, agricultural equipment, construction equipment and more.

 When you are shipping equipment to Canada, it’s safe to assume that you will be moving a heavy load. You want your goods to get to Canada safely, and we have the right equipment and vehicles to ensure that this happens. 

The pilot driver will warn the public if there are changes in traffic or there are obstacles in the way due to the size of the truck. They are also there to warn if there is anything that will make passage for your shipment unsafe. A pilot car driver can tell the trucker if there are traffic incidents that will interfere with and delay delivery, or if there are situations on the road that require stop or diversion.

Escort car drivers make sure that switching lanes, crossing bridges and everything in between can safely be done by a heavy-haul driver. This is all to ensure that your shipment, the public and everyone else on the road remains safe along the way. Lastly, escort cars can also ensure that your driver is not violating any traffic laws while moving a load that is over dimensional.

The laws that relate to pilot cars differ in each state and province, so if you are shipping equipment to Canada you need to know that pilot cars are, in some states, legally required. This means that your pilot car might be against the law to ship equipment to Canada without a pilot car when it’s crossing states where you are.

So, how can pilot ars help with shipping to Canada?

  • Pilot cars are designed purely to get your shipment from Point A to Point B smoothly and without breaking the law
  • Oversized loads can arrive on time in one piece
  • Your shipment will reach Canada intact with a pilot car

Crossing the Border

There are a few hoops to jump through when it comes to crossing the border. From working with customs to working with your carrier, there are a few things you’ll need to get your heavy equipment across the border.

One thing that reliable customs broker who can provide you with the right documents for clearing the U.S – Canada border quickly and securely. It all depends on the value of the shipment, the origin and whether the shipment contains items that are regulated or not. Almost $700 billion of goods is shipped to Canada from the U.S every year, and every single shipment is supported with paperwork. Not only does this keep Canadian residents safe, it ensures that you are compliant with the law. The very last thing that you need during that border crossing is red tape stopping your shipment from arriving. Here are some of the documents and information that you need for that border crossing to go smoothly:

  • Keep hold of the contact information for the Importer of Record. The Importer of Record is usually the party responsible for paying all customs duties and taxes. 
  • You should also have on you a declared value of the shipment, for the sake of ease! 

Bill of Lading (BOL)

The Bill of Lading is a document that lists all the goods that are in your shipment – rather like an itinerary. When you are shipping equipment to Canada, you need to be very clear what’s in the shipment for safety purposes. You’ll enter the address where your shipment is being collected and you’ll add the size and weight alongside your contact information. You should have three parts to this, one for the shipper, the driver and the consignee at the end of the delivery.

Proof of Delivery (POD)

You’ve taken the time to track a shipment across the country. The one thing that you need to have is the proof of delivery, which is the receipt portion of the Bill of Lading. The Bill of Lading confirms that the shipped products have been received in good order, with a signature confirming the date and time of delivery. Once confirmation has been received, the experts at RL Global Logistics will let you know!

Canada Customs Invoice (for shipping from the U.S. to Canada)

One invoice copy goes with the freight from the place it’s picked up from where it clears at customs. The second copy of the invoice is attached to the Bill of Lading.

NAFTA Certificate of Origin

According to NAFTA regulations, you need to have a document to show where your shipment originated from. This is to ensure that it is collected correctly. This document is called a Certificate of Origin and can help your goods and equipment qualify for preferential tariff treatment. 

You’ll find that there are a few situations on those books that don’t require a Certificate of Origin. These situations include:

  • The commercial shipment of equipment costs less than $1,000
  • The goods being shipped into the U.S. or imported are non-commercial or have very limited value
  • The CBP official at the equipment’s port of entry waived the requirement in writing 

You’ll also find that both importers and exporters have a few responsibilities when using the NAFTA Certificate of Origin when you’re seeking preferential tariff treatment. To get preferential treatment, you must make your intention clear as a declaration on their import documentation. 

It is important that importers are able to provide a Certificate of Origin to customs officials upon request. If you’re importing equipment, you need the right documentation. Not having the proper documents in place could cause a delay at the border or make you ineligible for the tariff treatment you’re seeking. This could add up to extra money coming from your pocket that you might not have to spend.

Cost to Ship Heavy EquipmentCost to Ship Heavy Equipment

Before you start your shipping equipment to Canada, you need to consider the costs. You likely have a budget, so you should be very aware of all the costs involved with shipping heavy equipment. Oversized freight will usually cost more as there is increased liability with the equipment and additional services might be required. If equipment can’t be handled with standard dry van or truckload shipment, there are added costs for specialist equipment use. 


The larger the shipment, the bigger the cost. When you are shipping equipment to Canada via road or truckload shipping, you have to consider the weight and size together.

Transport Type

How do you intend for your shipment to be traveling? The mode of transport that you select is very important here, as this will help you to determine your price. 


You are shipping equipment to Canada, but are you shipping from Chicago or Florida? San Francisco or Poughkeepsie? There are varied costs depending on the distance your shipment needs to go. 


There are customs duties and taxes and unavoidable service charges to consider when your shipment arrives in Canada. 


International shipping – like any other industry – has a peak season. These are usually in the summer between August and September and in the New Year.

Shipping Insurance For EquipmentShipping Insurance For Equipment

If you are about to embark on shipping equipment to Canada, insurance is an absolute must. Of course, it’s going to cost a little more than the typical freight as equipment has a relatively high value. There are also additional risks involved due to the size of the shipment, too. The process of shipping equipment to Canada can be expensive enough, and you’re asking yourself whether you want to spend any more cash. Here’s the thing: international shipping insurance is a small price to pay to protect your equipment against total loss. 

You may not feel like insurance is a necessity, but in the event of damage in transit, you will be glad that you put the budget aside for insurance. A reputable international shipping company will always ask you if insurance coverage is wanted and you should always say “yes.” 

 Insurance will cover your equipment and should you choose to decline insurance coverage, or you decide not to insure your shipment, you are taking a big risk. Insurance is a must if you want to seek repayment after damage or loss. Without it, you are out of pocket, which will result in a loss to your company. It would be very difficult to solve any liability issues without the right coverage.

Finding a Carrier For Your Equipment

When we are talking heavy equipment, we mean things like tractors and cranes, forklifts and large industrial equipment. As machinery like this is heavy and it’s not always the same size, you need to consider that you need specialist carrier help. Ensure that you have the most accurate dimensions and weight before you decide to ship your equipment. This will help you and your potential carrier to determine the type of truck necessary for your shipment as well as the class your freight will be. If you gather as much information as you can about your shipment, you can get the most accurate estimate for your shipping costs. 

Finding the right carrier can be difficult, as it is essential to find the carrier who knows how to carry your heavy equipment to Canada. This is where R+L Global Logistics will step in as we can provide you with the right trucks and guidance for shipping equipment to Canada. You can track a shipment in real-time and we can inform you of Canada customs and the right shipping rates. 

You’ll be able to book your shipment knowing you’re in good hands!

Need Help Shipping Equipment to Canada?Need Help Shipping Equipment to Canada

When it comes to shipping equipment to Canada, you need a company that has expert knowledge of the industry. R+L Global Logistics is that company, with a team of efficient professional shipping experts on your side to get you from A to B in one piece every time. Our knowledge of the United States to Canada cross-border shipments will reassure you that you have made the right choice for your shipping company.

In addition to helping with shipping equipment to Canada, R+L Global Logistics can provide 3PL logistics services including:

  • Warehousing
  • Kitting and assembly
  • Pick and pack
  • Refrigerated transport
  • Expedited shipping
  • In-house customs brokerage

R+L Global Logistics handles Canada cross border shipping services from across the country. We provide Canada Cross Border Freight services to a variety of border states across the country, including Michigan, New York, Montana, Maine, Washington, Minnesota North Dakota, Vermont and Idaho.  Our team can assist you with all of your cross border freight needs.

Our logistics services are handled at cross border cities and ports that include Detroit, Port Huron Sault Saint Marie, Alexandria Bay, Buffalo, Champlain-Rouses Point, Massena, Ogdensburg, Trout River, Raymond, Sweet Grass, Calais, Houlton, Jackman, Madawaska, Van Buren, Frontier, Lynden, Oroville, Point Roberts, Suma, International Falls-Rainier, Blaine, Dunseith, Northgate, Pembina, Portal, Derby Line, Highgate Springs and Eastport.

Contact R+L Global Logistics today to get started shipping equipment to Canada. We also handle everything from alcohol to Canada and can assist you with becoming a non-resident importer. We are prepared to be your strategic logistics partner. By working with the best carriers, we can promise on-time delivery more than 99% of the time. We have staff with experience on both sides of the border and we can get your shipment across and through customs with ease. Contact us for a quote today. Call 855-915-0573 or contact us online for the services you need to get your equipment moving.

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