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We have a UPS account with 45% international rate discounts. Even with the discount it is 2-3 times the postal rate. UPS also has a ground Canada rate which for the shipper is equivalent to a Zone 8 US ground rate. The problem is they have a $35(Canadian) minimum broker charge, plus duties and GST waiting for the customer. The customer can handle the duties and GST but the $35 broker fee is a JOKE. UPS should be ashamed. We reimbursed 3 customers before we figured it out.
For Canada the cheapest shipping in order:
Parcel Post Economy
Parcel Post Air
US Global Priority
If you use UPS or FedEx you can kiss Canadian sales goodbye.
PS. Most USPS packages go through without duties and taxes… The same for Europe. Remember, you did not hear that from me…
However if we charged for air or priority they'd get mad and ask why it was so expensive when they were right next door. Finally we just told them "because" , doubled the amount of warnings on our webpage, and started shipping everything Priority, and complaints seemed to have diminished. There must be huge warehouses on the border, full of mail being "aged".
You are really stuck with PO on small orders though. PO being part of the gov can handle its own customs so you don't have to pay a broker. The only alternative is to lie about the value (I hear rumors of bizes that send everything as a sample with a bogus cover letter, and email the actual invoice).
I use Endicia and it works great for Priority Mail. Wondering if there is any way to do the same with the USPS Canadian Mail.
For shame! ;) Endicia allows you to print Int'l labels. We send about 20 packages a week to Canada using Endicia. It is a real time saver as the postage is already printed on the label. You are required to fill out the Customs CN22 form (< 4 lbs), so complete the form before going to the post office:
Finally, all you have to do is ask the postal clerk to date stamp both parts of the form. They keep the white and the green part stays on the package. No waiting in line! If the postal clerk asks you to wait in line, try telling them you weighed the package on a digital scale already. Sometimes it doesn't work because they don't trust you, but if you explain your business and process, you won't have to wait in line with that clerk next time.
I only receive 1 every 2 weeks so it's more of a hassle than a profit center. My other USPS and FedEx packages are sent out beautifully. All electronic and just a simple dropoff.
It makes inexpensive items really expensive.
Would any of you consider sub-contracting to a Canadian outlet to handle your shipping within Canada?
From Canada to the U.S. - Canpar courier. It is by far the least expensive (including cheaper than post). The tricky/expensive part of the crossborder stuff is the customs brokerage. Canpar courier has some deal with a broker that lets you broker it for pennies on the dollar. I think I once took a $25K load across for about $200 in brokerage fees. Once the package hits the U.S., Canpar passes it to fedex (I think - one of the big courier co's). So cost and speed using this route is similiar to shipping within Canada. Plus you get all the tracking info etc.
You cannot effectively clear commerical stuff into the U.S. over $200 without using a customs broker.
From the U.S. to Canada is a bit trickier. It's kind of a pick two of 'fast, cheap or good'. There are a number of options:
- ship to a Mailbox near the border. Have someone drive across the border, pick up the package, and clear the package through customs themselves. Unlike the U.S., you can personally do the customs paperwork and clear customs without the cost of a customs broker. This gets it into Canada in the fastest, least expensive method. Call ahead to find out how to fill out the paperwork. It can be done, I've done it lots.
- Ship using UPS. Now, you need to be aware that Americans are REQUIRED to charge and remit the Canadian 7% federal sales tax. The Canadian version of the IRS can actually audit and assess an American company for not doing this. Bizarre but true. Nevertheless, most Americans just ignore this. UPS OTOH, does not. If you ship a package UPS to a Canadian address, UPS will arrive at the doorstep and ask for immediate payment for 1)the 7% sales tax 2)brokerage fee of something like 10%-15% of the value of the product 3) a service fee which is a percentage of the other charges. So your customer ends up writing a $25 check so UPS will give them their $100 product.
- Alternatively, you can ship overnight UPS, at which point UPS will cover the brokerage fees, but not the sales tax. They will still want the sales tax.
- Alternatively, when you ship with UPS you can instruct UPS to bill you all those fees. heh.
- door #3 is post. Not much better in terms of shipping prices. But - the brokerage fees and taxes are substantially reduced. When the package arrives, the user will be faced with one of three options depending upon the mood of Canada post: 1) no taxes, no brokerage. It happens. They just send the package through. Happens alot on small value parcels. 2) $5Canadian 'brokerage' fee - about $3US. On larger value shipments you will get this almost all the time. But the brokerage fee is always $5 regardless of the value of the shipment. 3) the $5 plus the GST.
If you are doing larger volumes, there are services which consolidate and import into Canada. You ship all your packages to them, once a week they drive them across the border and drop them with a courier. Probably not effective until you're shipping 100's of packages a week.
So I don't believe there is a 'good' way to ship from the U.S. to Canada. Post is the best of a bad lot. Shipping from Canada to the U.S. is easier and not too expensive if you do your homework.
Canadian Customs will flag any shipment over $20 for collection of duty & HST, and a $35 brokerage fee if using a courier service or a $6 charge if using USPS. This really sucks for the american competition.
If you are shipping to the US. US customs will
not bother on collecting duty on any parcel less than $200 American on consumer purchases, and the parcel arrives at the customers door with no duty or state taxes.
It appears that Canadian customs are woried about
spending $5 to collect $2, while US customs are more woried about if you are shipping contraband.
I think US customs have their priorities set more properly
They should raise the threshold from $20 to $200,
and start concentrating on the important jobs, like protecting our borders from drugs and terrorists.
Yes we have NAFTA, so most shipments are free, however Canada Customs are required to collect the Good & Service Tax and for some provinces the
provincial tax on purchases, or the blended Harmonized sales tax.
Some day our government will figure out that our
custom inspectors, have better things to do than collect 30 cents of tax on a $20 purchase.
I'll just post on the site that Canadian orders are shipped out every Wednesday. That way, it only requires standing in line once a week and I can gather them all up at that time. I don't have to charge an extra handling charge to the Canadian orders as well.
UPS adds their own rediculous brokerages fees on top of the Goverment taxes. FedEx and USPS does not do this.
I always get ticked off when I ask a US merchant if they ship FedEx or US Post and they think I'm some crook or something trying to commit fraud or being "difficult".
As a merchant, I tell customers not to return items to me by UPS because I still have to pay the stupid brokerage fees, even though it's coming back to me, THE MERCHANT!
UPS = my mortal enemy ;)
We ship through a third-party messengers company, who then uses FedEx. I like it this way because I can call by 4pm and they still come to get it, they do all the paperwork for us, all the customs documents, etc.
I also think because it appears to be coming from a "messengers" company, that's why it slips through customs like butter. If it had our company name instead, they may be more inclined to open the packages. Also, our customers don't usually even have to pay taxes or duties when recieiving the packages. If they do, we reimburse them.
I just received 2 monitors from the US using Fedex ground. No broker fees although that is rare. A&A customs brokers handles them, but they are far cheaper than UPS. Fedex includes the broker fees in packages listed with a value of 100$ or less. Many times these packages go across border in a huge trucking container and the whole container is cleared..not individual packages which they could never do and get it to destination in 24 hours. (actually they could theoretically have 18 hours if you dropped off at 4p.m. cuttoff). Its packages over that that they nail.
Offer your customer a choice, because here is how it works. There are 2 main ground ports in Canada. Vancouver, or Toronto. I live in Calgary, Alberta. If an item I buy say from California comes up here, more than likely it comes into Vancouver. Now at the port, tax has to be paid and papers filed (if its over 100$). Couriers see this as an opportunity for more $$ and say they will not transport it in bond over to you. So a broker basically pays for you there and it comes to your house, you pay the broker. NOW here is the kicker.. If the package FLIES in to Canada, it will come directly to Calgary (for example in my case). I now have a choice to have the sender write on the package that I will clear the item. Then I can go to customs office and do what the broker would do right in town... For physically large items this will always be the case, but for smaller items, even ones valued in thousands of $'s will just come to my door. Later on I get a tax bill in mail.
So knowing the broker fees UPS will charge, I would rather pay more to have something overnighted (if it is within a certain size range) because I get it faster for what will be the same cost even though ground initially sounds so much cheaper.
My choices are (as a buyer):
in a rush:
-USPS with tracking
-Fedex international economy
I only put UPS just to show its my last choice.. I would prefer to never use them again.
Also another thing I found out perhaps of interest to Canadians is UPS is suing Canada Post under NAFTA saying it is unfairly subsidized...our national post office...
Personally I'm ussually not to concerned about shipping prices if it's a larger ticket item of $150 or more since I'm ussually saving alot allready compared to buying it locally.
As an example, I got an MP3 player for $350 after shipping and exchange and it would have cost me $600 to buy it locally. I can buy bowling shoes for $200 after shipping and exchange that would cost me $400 locally.
For that kind of savings, I'm willing to wait a few weeks for my order.