Best 3 Methods to Ship between Canada and USA

You might want to order stuff from the United States while residing in Canada, but do not know how to go about it and what to do first. We will be guiding you through the best 3 methods to ship between Canada and USA.

The United States is Canada’s largest trading partner. Canada exchanges over $ 500 billion in goods with the United States every year.

Due to this close relationship, shipping across borders to the United States is not particularly difficult. So if you properly document your content and don’t send banned items, you should find this process very easy.

First, let’s take a look at the various types of shipments that you can ship between Canada and the USA.

Types of Shipments between Canada and the USA

Not all types of shipments are shipped the same. For example, shipping a television requires different documents, customs duties, and taxes than sending a bank statement.

The following is a list of the most common shipping methods:

  • Documents Only
  • Gifts
  • Personal Items
  • Food, Chocolate, Sweets
  • Samples
  • Promotional Materials
  • Repaired Equipment
  • Temporary Imports (Trade Fairs, Exhibitions, etc.)
  • Permanent or Sold Items

Documents Only

Shipping documents to the United States is very easy and requires only a shipping label (no commercial invoice required). Documents will be shipped to the country and tax-exempt only if qualified.

If requested, US Customs can execute a check that adds one day to your transit time but keep in mind that this does not happen very often.


Gifts under $100 (approximately C $ 130) can be sent to the United States (US) without customs duties or taxes if the following conditions are met:

  • The invoice with the word “gift delivery” or “one-sided gift” in the commercial
  • Detailed description and name for each item is given on the commercial invoice
  • All alcohol, Cigarettes, perfume products retail price is less than $5
  • All gifts are worth less than $100

If the gift is over US $100 or contains taxable items such as alcohol and tobacco, Customs and taxes apply to shipping.

Note: If you are shipping groceries, chocolates, or candies, you should also read the shipping groceries manual.

Personal Items

Personal items can be shipped to the United States relatively easily. It involves the transportation of your personal belongings across national borders.

As with all non-document packages, cargo must be properly declared and undergo US customs clearance. Additional documents (CBP Form 3299) are required to ship personal belongings, otherwise, they will be stored at customs until the package is included.

To be eligible for the tax exemption, the following conditions must be met:

  • The items are for your use only.
  • items must be used at home for at least one year.

Note: Customs may require proof that you own the item for at least one year. Receipts, invoices, and guarantees can be used as evidence.

Required Documents

  • A commercial invoice indicates that the item is personalized.
  • Personal Form CBP3299 (to avoid customs duty and tax payments). Restrictions apply based on US citizenship status
  • Passport Photo Page

Note: Custom border control may, at its discretion, require a document certifying its status in the United States. Also, they can request a packing list of shipped items.

Food, Chocolate, Sweets

Shipping groceries to the United States (US) is a simple process. Prior notice is not required for individual shipments. For businesses, you must submit a pre-registration to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before shipping.

Generally Accepted Foods:

  • Unopened or Commercially Packaged Foods
  • Baked Goods
  • Most Cheese
  • Spices
  • Chocolate
  • Sweets

Common Things to Avoid or Not Allowed:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Rice (may accommodate insects)
  • Meat (regulations are different)
  • In general, fresh, dried, or canned meat is not permitted in the United States (including products made from meat).

Why do I need to give advance notice to ship between Canada and USA?

This notice s intended to protect the United States from anything that could harm or destroy the local economy by notifying that consumer products may be sold to the United States. All items subject to the FDA are typically delayed by at least one day at customs.


Trade samples are goods imported to facilitate ordering and are used only for demonstration purposes.

Commercial samples can be imported duty-free and tax-free if the following conditions are met:

  • The word “Non-Resale Sample” appears below the general and detailed description of the item on the commercial invoice.
  • The HS Code for the sample is specified on the Commercial Invoice
  • The sample will not be resold in an exact copy (ie, counterfeit).
  • Samples that are treated as Mark, Stain, Tear, Perforated, or otherwise are unsuitable for sale.
  • Samples should not contain food items to be eaten


  • Samples may be of a different size or material than the goods it represents.
  • Samples are miniature versions or cutouts showing the structure of the product.
  • Fabric samples and color cards that show different colors of the item (that is, inside the item that may have a pattern).

Advertising Material

Advertising Material can be sent duty-free and tax-free. It includes promotional materials to be distributed, such as leaflets and pamphlets.

To qualify, you must meet the following conditions:

  • The general description of the product on the commercial invoice should say “Promotional Material – Not for Resale”.

Repaired Equipment

Sending Products to the United States for Repairs

If you send packages to the United States for repairs, you must meet the following requirements to qualify for tax exemption:

  • The word “repair and return” can be found on the commercial invoice under the general description.
  • Serial/product number must be reported in the detailed description section of the item on the commercial invoice.
  • A copy of the repair contract attached to all export documents

Note: Items for which repair is no longer guaranteed will be paid All obligations and taxes when the freight is returned to Canada.

Returning the product after the repair is complete:

If the product is repaired in Canada and returned to the United States, the following conditions must be met to qualify for tax exemption:

  • The term “repair and return” is written under the general description or remarks on the commercial invoice.
  • The value of the product, including repair costs, should be reported in the detailed description section of the product.
  • Original shipping documents or tracking numbers from the time the goods were first exported to the United States

Note: If you do not have the original tracking information or documents, the recipient may be charged customs duties and taxes on the shipment.

Temporary Imports

If you temporarily import your goods into the United States for use, you have three options to avoid import duties and taxes. Your goods should also be suitable for temporary imports.

Each option has its strengths and weaknesses. In any case, you will need to fill out a Commercial Invoice (CI) for each of the following methods:

  1. Complete a Commercial Invoice (CI) only.
  2. Commercial Invoice (CI) + Temporary Importation under Bond (TIB).
  3. Commercial Invoice (CI) + an ATA Carnet.

Permanent or Sold Items

All sold goods imported into the United States (US) are subject to tariffs unless they are subject to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA Agreement aims to improve trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States and reduce or eliminate tariffs on various items.

Thanks to NAFTA, the e-commerce industry continues to grow by increasing employment, wages, and investment, lowering costs for items such as oil, and lowering gas prices.

Items that are Prohibited from Shipping to the US

Please note that some items do not pass through US Customs. Between baby eggs and Syrian oil, many items have not reached final delivery.

The items that are frequently disapproved are:

  • Pipes related to illegal drug use such as “pipe smoking” used as drug-related equipment
  • Even when using linen products such as cosmetics, clothing, and groceries. Those containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are discarded.
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Animals such as birds, fish, reptiles, dead animals, mounted animals
  • Unusual valuable items such as precious works of art, jewelry, collectibles, antiques
  • Fur
  • Cigarettes, tobacco, tobacco products, and others

So, now that we are aware of what we can ship between Canada and USA and what to know about them, next up we will be looking at the documents that will be required of you and when they can be required.

Documents Required to Ship between Canada and USA

A lot of documentation is needed to ship a package abroad. This process can be both confusing and time-consuming.

Hence, we narrowed down the documents that might be needed and ranked them based on their likelihood for you.

Open table to view Shipping Documents
Document Type When? Details
Shipping Label / Bill of Lading Always required This is a label provided by the carrier (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.). Always required because the carrier needs to know the parcel’s destination.
Commercial Invoice Required for all non-document shipments For all non-document shipments, you will require 3 copies of the commercial invoice (to be included with your shipping labels).
These are for customs purposes and need to be included inside a document pouch outside of the box.When creating a shipment through the Secureship website, the system will help you create this document automatically.
B13a Required if the value exceeds $2,000 per shipment or is a controlled good A B13a is required if your shipment exceeds $2000 CAD or is a controlled good
and is destined to a country other than the US, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands.
Certificate of Origin (COO) Infrequently required

Allows a reduced or zero-rated import duty.

Canada has a preferential trade agreement with the United States. A COO proves that an item has been produced, manufactured, or processed in Canada.

When an item with a COO is imported into the United States, it will incur a reduced or zero-rated import duty.

Certificate of Insurance (COI) Infrequently required

This shows that the shipment has been insured.

Banks may request a certificate of insurance when providing letters of credit for the goods. Otherwise,
it is generally your choice whether to purchase insurance for the shipment.
ATA Carnet Infrequently required

Used to avoid duties and taxes on shipments of temporary nature.

If you ship goods of temporary nature to and from a country, you can obtain an ATA Carnet to expedite the customs clearance process and
ensure that anything of temporary nature is not charged duties and taxes.
FDA Prior Notice Infrequently required

Used when shipping food.

An FDA prior notice must be electronically submitted before a food shipment arrives at the first port in the United States.

FDA Web Portal

TSCA – Toxic Substances Control Act Infrequently required

Imports of items containing chemical substances.

The TSCA form is required when shipping any chemicals, especially ink. This includes items like Pens, Markers, Highlighters, etc.
Personal Effects – CBP Form 3299 Infrequently required

Required when shipping Personal Belonging.

All unaccompanied personal effects being shipped to the US must include a CBP form 3299 to avoid any delays or refusal at the border.

Next, we will be walking through our step-by-step guide on how to ship between Canada and US.

How to Ship between Canada and USA

For Individual and Households

  • Get tips for packing packages
  • Enter the package details in “Find Price” to get a list of shipping services, features, options, and costs.
  • Please fill out the customs form online before shipping the item. You will receive a barcode that you can bring to the post office with your package.

For businesses

1. Before you start, please make sure that the type of cargo you send is accepted by Canadian mail and the destination country:

    • Read about the non-cargo issue of Canadian Mail.
    • Go through the list of restricted and banned items in the destination country. There are also documents on customs clearance, size and weight restrictions, and more.
    • Find your country in the list of international travel destinations.

2. Use the following resources to select a delivery service.

  • For more information on shipping service features and options, see Parcel Service Customer Guide.
  • Compare services and prices with Find a Rate.
  • Find out how long it takes an item to reach its destination.

3. Find out more about export and customs regulations in the Postal Export Guide.
4. Prepare freight and mail using the online shipping tool.

Now that you know how to go about your shipments, let’s consider the various option of shipping and the cost for each.

Best 3 Methods to ship between Canada and USA

Canada Post

Canadian mail is the most common way for Canadians to send packages. For shipments weighing less than 2 kg, Tracked Packet USA allows you to ship small, lightweight items to the United States within 4-7 business days.

Another option is Small Packet USA-Air. This takes about 5-8 days, but it’s a bit cheaper. However, tracking is not included in small packages.

For the sample package, the Small Packet option costs $13.33 and the Tracked Packet option costs $20.13.

Courier Services

There are several courier services available, such as FedEx and UPS. These are options that help you get your luggage where you need it. One-to-one comparisons are difficult because prices vary widely by region and package type.

Comparing these two services, UPS is the cheapest courier service. It is estimated at $ 16.65 and $ 18.37. This is significantly cheaper than the UPS base charge of $ 30.00. It’s not as cheap as Canada Post’s cheapest rates, but it’s cheaper than the equivalent Canada Post tracking service.

It’s also relatively easy to deliver your parcel to a courier. FedEx has over 1200 drop-off points in Canada, but UPS has about the same number. It’s not the same as Canada Post’s 6200 Post Office, but if you live near a big city, it’s okay to use these services.

Specialized Shipping Companies

Some shipping companies, such as Chit Chats and Stallion Express, have been successful in reducing customer costs by using lower USPS rates. By consolidating your customers’ cargo and moving across national borders, you can take advantage of the USPS economies of scale and reduce Canadian shipping costs.

Chit Chats is based throughout Canada, but Stallion Express is confined to Ontario. It’s a bit biased, so Chit Chat is used as an example. The US and Chit Chats tracking services can bring packages to Beverly Hills for $13.95 track.

Chit Chats, a small company, has fewer branches and drop-off points than Canada Post, but the number is growing rapidly. Cheap insurance is also available for an additional fee.

Fastest shipping between the US and Canada

Parcel Monkey International Priority Pickups

They offer the fastest delivery times to Canada in just 1-3 business days for packages that are up to 99lbs. This service is operated by FedEx and includes the receipt of free courier services from your home or office address.

DHL Express International

They deliver up to 154lbs of luggage to Canada within 1-6 business days. With extended protection options up to $1000, this premium service is perfect for higher-value products to ship between Canada and USA.

Finally, one may ask what the cheapest way to ship from Canada to the United States is? The answer depends on what you want. Canada Post offers the cheapest rate for the package size we send.

However, if you want to include tracking, Chit Chats is the best way to go. But, due to a large number of locations, it may be easier to send your parcel to a courier such as UPS. The choice is yours to make.

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