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Easiest way to ship to Canada?



4:17 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


What are some of the ways that people are shipping to Canada from the US? Right now, we are using Global Priority Mail via the USPS but the only downside is having to wait a line.

Are there any other alternatives out there that don't require waiting in lines?



4:21 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

UPS and FEDEX ship to Canada. It's only a hop, skip and a jump. :)


4:22 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I tried shipping via FedEx Ground, my normal carrier. And I had to bring the packages back since I don't have a customs broker. They require one or they use theirs and charge you for it. So, still not the most inexpensive way. My orders are generally only $30 and I'd like to charge $10 for shipping.


4:35 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

UPS expedit is 5 day delivery and reasonably priced - I don't believe the custom broker is a problem.

However, if you have many more orders to Canada the custom broken is the better way to go. Cheaper per quantity.


4:41 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yup, for orders under $100.00 it gets pricey. I ship to the U.S from Canada and use the Postal service for the most part. They pick up at my house every day, and discount the rate from the "stand in line" price. Give them a call, I'm sure they must have the same sort of system going.


4:53 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We've tried UPS there and it IS pricey. After we paid the posted rates, they showed up at my customer's door asking for more money. I'd like to try USPS and see how it works, anyone try that yet?


9:11 am on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

USPS is the only way to go, if price is an issue.

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…


4:15 pm on Jan 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Must you wait in line at the post office for all your Canadian orders. OR is there an automated way to do so? 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.



1:03 am on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Canada has had us tearing out our hair in frustration. We used to ship books there via PO small package rate but that was discontinued. Then we switche to parcel post. With both of them every time we shipped an order, even though our webpage was studded with warnings and notices, we knew sure as can be we'd get an angry email 1-3 weeks later wanting to know where their stuff was - it would take 3 weeks to send a package to someone a 3 hour drive from my house!

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).


1:18 am on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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:

  • content description
  • tick gift, merchandise, or sample
  • your address
  • their address
  • sign & date

    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.

  • kjs50

    3:45 pm on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    I guess that's the most streamlined way of doing it, too bad it still requires some interaction with a postal clerk. I love having all my packages ready for drop off. Canadian sales aren't big enough yet for me where it is for you at 20 packages a week.

    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.


    6:08 pm on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Heh, I'm actually considering these LCC82, laser printer friendly versions [lasersub.com] of the CN22. Not sure if I can justify the $0.19 per form cost, but if it ends up saving time, I might just use it! :)


    10:23 pm on Jan 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    A little known fact, When a Canadian receives sonething from out-of-country and the value is over $20 Canadian (read about $12 US) we get hit with a customs fee of $7 Canadian.

    It makes inexpensive items really expensive.

    Would any of you consider sub-contracting to a Canadian outlet to handle your shipping within Canada?

    ..... Shane


    3:51 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

    I've spent a fair bit of time shipping back and forth between Canada and the U.S. on slim margin products where time was of the issue. The following are my (lengthy) thoughts on the issue, having done this alot over the last 3-4 years:

    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.



    3:53 am on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention. You are correct on the timeliness of post. All packages coming from the U.S. into Canada via post must be properly aged at the border.


    9:51 pm on Feb 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    >From Canada to the U.S. - Canpar courier. It is by far the least expensive (including cheaper than post). <

    What an awesome find.

    I have someone from Canpar coming on Tuesday to do a full consultation, but based on the rates I see on the Canpar site I'll be begging to sign on the dotted line.


    2:01 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

    Glad I could help. Mention my name for a further discount :).

    Try squeezing them for the book industry discount (which you should get anyway if you are shipping books).


    2:24 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

    You may not want to hear this, but Americans are at a large disadvantage when shiping to Canada, however Canadian Businesses are at a strong advantage when shipping to USA.

    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


    3:13 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    Whoa is us and shipping to our friendly neighbors up north. We've had nothing but headaches trying to get a nice and easy system to canada. I thought NAFTA was gonna fix all this?


    4:19 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    I agree with the ship times. We regularly ship to Montreal from Atlanta via USPS. Packages average 10-14 days and 21 days is not uncommon. Our company is definitely at a disadvantage.

    So who is more the culprit?
    the USPS
    Canadian customs
    the Canadian Postal Service (what are they called?)


    5:36 am on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

    It's amazing that the problems are not reversed.

    7, 5, 2-day and overnight to USA from Canada is verbatim.

    No problems what-so-ever.


    12:31 pm on Feb 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Its not uncommon for Canada Customs to be backlog for a week, since they have to fill out paper work for every parcel over $20 instead of $200 for US Customs. They are understaffed and overworked.

    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.


    4:53 pm on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    I've been thinking about the optimal way to ship and will probably end up using this solution.

    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.


    5:24 pm on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    I can tell you as a Canadian that buys things from the US a lot... I will never purchase goods from a merchant that ONLY ships UPS.

    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 ;)


    5:43 pm on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member

    How do you ship FedEx without brokerage fees? I tried to ship via FedEx Ground and I had to have it recalled because it went to the wrong area and they were going to charge a brokerage fee when it got to the border anyway.


    11:41 am on Feb 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    From what I remember, FedEx's brokerage fees are built into the price of the shipping. If you used ground, maybe it's not included? I know UPS offers no-brokerage fees on their most expenseive shipping method.

    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.


    5:37 pm on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    I can't believe anyone is even suggesting UPS for US to Canada.. obvioulsy you don't live in Canada and have to receive the items! UPS charges the most ridiculous sets of fees in the industry. I had one item that when it arrived here, shipping and broker fees..etc added up to 60% of the value of the item.. no joke. It is so bad that I refuse to do a purchase if UPS is the only choice. I usually ask the seller for an alternative, but if there isn't I go elsewhere. And I moved about 5000 packages last year.

    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:

    no 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...


    5:51 pm on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Brn2Drv, if you are a merchant and getting something returned, have your customer put 'Warranty Return' in LARGE writing on the package. Then no fees can be charged.


    5:54 pm on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    If they are complaining about 3 weeks for regular delivery, they are crazy, I order things from the US all the time, and if it takes 4 weeks, I don't mind, what do I expect if I select the cheapest shipping method when filling out the order.

    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.


    6:03 pm on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

    Exactly... But I think an important thing to do is have tracking on it. I believe it is an option with USPS, but Canada Post does not offer it (unless you get Expresspost).. Some people wait 1 week and then do a chargeback. It drove me crazy we offered 3 steps of shipping and there were always those that would choose the cheapest, and then email you every day even if you did give them tracking info... around 9.11 it was really bad.. the delays..
    This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31

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