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Shipping Goods to USA from Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Residing behind only China, Canada is the United States’ second-largest trade partner each year. So knowing about shipping goods to the USA from Canada is crucial knowl

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Jon Michael Soracchi
March 24, 2021
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Residing behind only China, Canada is the United States’ second-largest trade partner each year. So knowing about shipping goods to the USA from Canada is crucial knowledge, knowledge you may not have acquired yet.

With some consideration given to taxes, shipping and restrictions on certain items, shipping goods to the USA from Canada shouldn’t be a great cause for concern for your business. Pairing with the right logistics company can help even more when you’re ready to cross the border to engage in international trade.

Shipping Goods to USA from Canada CustomsShipping goods to USA from Canada Customs

Shipping from Canada for entering the United States can be complex because of U.S. customs. But the difficulty can be greatly reduced with one key aspect — preparation. The more prepared you are beforehand, the easier clearing customs will be.

Other than just motivational speak, most of the problems getting through customs are linked directly to incomplete or inaccurate forms.

There are two ways for the shipment to enter the country — as a formal (or commercial) entry, or as an informal entry. Let’s break down the differences:

  • Formal entry: The majority of goods entering America are as formal entries, which means it will require the assistance of a U.S. customs broker.
  • Informal entry: This type of entry doesn’t need a U.S. customs broker as long as the exporter goes with the shipment or the consignee comes to the border or port of entry to collect the shipment. Also if the value of your goods is $2,000 or less, and they are not controlled goods, they automatically qualify as an informal entry.

However, if you’re shipping certain kinds of items, you might have extra requirements to fulfill. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) presides over clothing and textiles while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors — you guessed it — food and beverage products.

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If your shipment is a formal entry, required documents will be needed in order to import from Canada to the United States:

  • USMCA Certificate of Origin — This is needed if you’re claiming preferential treatment and want to pay less tax or duties while importing.
  • Bill of lading — If you’re using a broker, which is very likely, they are responsible for filling this out and making sure it is with the shipment.
  • Commercial invoice — This document lists exactly what is being shipped and also the exact quantity. If there is anything else other than what is listed, even if it is some kind of freebie thrown in as part of a promotion, the shipment could be held up at the border and even “free” or promotional items might be assessed a value by U.S. customs.
  • Importer ID number — This is used by U.S. customs to verify certain information such as bond coverage, release and entry of merchandise, liquidation, the issuing of bills and refunds, and drawback processing. Your customs broker can help you obtain the number or you can get it yourself by submitting Form 5106 to U.S. Customs, available at www.forms.cbp.gov/pdf/CBP_Form_5106.pdf.
  • Entry manifest — Filling this out is the responsibility of the carrier.

There are also a few others that depend on the situation like the entry/immediate delivery form, which is shipped by the carrier to the port of entry for time-sensitive items like produce, or other permits or licenses, or a packing list.

Overall though, if you’re prepared with all of your forms and know what is required of your shipment, you should not run into trouble with customs clearance.

Is there Import Tax from Canada to USA?

Is there import tax from Canada to USA?

Under the terms of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), many goods traded between Canada, the USA and Mexico are free of tariffs. As a byproduct, this particularly boosted the trading of textiles, agriculture and automobiles between the countries.

So that is the good news if you’re attempting to import goods from Canada into the USA. However, on certain items, there can still be an import tax or customs duties levied.

Examples of duties and taxes for major imports include:

  • Auto parts 0-8%
  • Furniture 0-9.5%
  • Clothing 16-18%
  • Computers and related equipment 0% (and duty-free)
  • Bedding, linen, towels and other textile articles 16-18%

But USMCA — just like its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — overall eliminated a lot of potential extra costs via taxation that should become a potential barrier to free trade. So even small businesses should feel confident that they’ll still be able to be successful when shipping its products to the USA from Canada.

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How Does USMCA Affect Shipping Goods?

How does USMCA affect shipping goods?

When the USMCA replaced NAFTA, many of the same aspects were rolled into the new agreement. However, there were enough changes made that the USMCA is not just a like-for-like replacement for NAFTA.

The USMCA was pushed for by America in order to bring the trade agreement binding itself with Canada and Mexico to a more modern level. This is very wide-ranging but one of the aspects worth noting was the return of some manufacturing jobs to the U.S.  

One thing both businesses and customs brokers will rejoice about is reduced paperwork overall for customs while certain shipments that are considered lower-value or lower-risk goods can now enter either country with even more minimal procedures on formal entries.

Textiles have benefitted from an American standpoint with the USMCA, since not Tariff Preference Levels (TPLs) have been increased for U.S. businesses exporting to Canada. This should have the effect of increasing the number of opportunities.

Still, as much that has changed, some of the things that stay the same should also see importers and exporters rejoice. For instance, any goods that enjoyed zero tariffs under NAFTA will continue to do so under the USMCA.

There are more widespread effects that might not be thought of quite as much. Automobiles, for one, are now required to have a greater percentage of domestic parts. So if a car is being built in Canada for the American market, that car’s parts that are required to be American-made went up from 62.5% to 75% with the USMCA. Also 40 percent of the labor force in the Canadian (and Mexican) factory must make a minimum of $16 per hour.

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Shipping Restrictions to the USAShipping Restrictions to the USA

There are few things utterly prohibited from entering the USA, but special care will have to be taken to make sure certain items are able to clear customs.

For instance, soil has to be accompanied by an import permit and be proven to be free of potential pests or even disease-riddled wood.

Also plants, seeds or even fruits and vegetables must be found free of pests or possible diseases as well and come from an approved country, which Canada is.

Absinthe, a type of alcohol, is forbidden from any country of origin if it doesn’t meet certain criteria centered around branding, labeling and if the product has hallucinogenic properties.

Really though, other than a few basic minor restrictions, trade is very open between Canada and the USA as long as the proper steps are followed. The USMCA hasn’t done anything to change that. Practically any commodity can be shipped between Canada and the USA, even if they are accompanied by a few rules.

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Shipping Goods to USA from Canada with R+L Global Logistics

If you’re shipping goods to the USA from Canada, the smartest choice you could make is to let R+L Global Logistics be your carrier and customs broker.

R+L Global Logistics can offer a comprehensive list of services, beginning with transporting your freight from Canada to its final point in the United States and also help handle all of the requirements at the border.

Other services we provide include:

  • Reverse logistics
  • Heavy haul trucking
  • Refrigerated trucking
  • Expedited trucking
  • White glove service
  • Kitting and assembly
  • Pick and Pack
  • Warehousing
  • And more

Those offerings, coupled with an on-time delivery rate of 99.5 percent, real-time freight visibility and outstanding customer service, make R+L Global the right logistics provider for your business. No matter whether your freight is crossing the border at Derby Line or you're seeking Detroit cross border freight, R+L Global Logistics has the services you need to get it there.

Call 855-915-0573 today to get a quote from R+L Global Logistics for your next shipment and let us make shipping your freight the breeze it should be.

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