Thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), shipping from Canada to the US can be fast and cheap. As border buddies, the US and Canada exchange roughly $2 billion in goods and services each day. Shipping from Canada from the US can be done with express couriers, truck freight, air freight, and sea freight.
How you ship from Canada to the US depends on your shipment size, budget, and delivery timeline. For smaller merchants, a handful number of express couriers carry packages between countries, including UPS and FedEx. Larger merchants with high-volume shipments or large and heavy items are best served by truck, air or sea freight.
This blog walks you through the various ways to ship from Canada to the US, plus the costs and delivery lead times for each method of transport. And no conversation about international shipping would be complete without talking about duty and taxes.
Want an easy estimate on the cost and time of your next shipment from Canada to the US? Try our Free Shipping Rate Calculator. In just second, you can compare the cheapest rates from all Canada express couriers that ship to the US. And if you book with Easyship, you’ll save up to 70% off retail.
Here’s everything you need to know about shipping from Canada to the US.
4 Ways To Ship From Canada To The US
Canadian shippers can use a handful of methods to ship to the US. This includes truck, sea, and air freight, plus express shipping couriers such as UPS.
Each shipping methods allows you to import goods to the US:
- Express couriers: Ideal for smaller merchants shipping directly to customers.
- Truck freight: For merchants looking to save on shipping medium or large shipments faster than via air or sea freight.
- Air freight: For merchants with large shipments that want faster delivery than with sea freight.
- Sea freight: Best for cost-effectively shipping high-volume cargo or heavy items when time isn't much of a factor.
Let your choice of shipping method be determined by the volume of your shipment and delivery timeline. It would make no sense, for example, to ship via sea freight for a single palette of hoodies. Air freight or truck freight could do the same for both less money and time. And if you need to send a single hoodie, it’s best to use an express courier.
Here are a few factors to consider when picking your shipping method:
- Product load: How big is your shipment?
- Destination: Are you shipping to a customer or a warehouse?
- Timing requirements: Express couriers allow for fastest delivery, followed by air freight, truck freight, then sea freight.
Sea freight, truck freight, and air freight are cost-effective ways for merchants to ship large volumes of product or heavy objects to a warehouse. Single items bound for a customer should be sent via a Canada/US express courier.
The easiest way to compare rates and delivery lead times among express couriers is with our Free Shipping Rate Calculator.
Time To Ship From Canada to The US
Delivery lead times from Canada to the US vary by a handful of factors. Most important is your shipping method. The fastest way to ship to the US is with express couriers, followed by air, truck, then sea freight.
The fastest way to ship from Canada to the US is using an express courier like FedEx or Canada Post.
International couriers offer a handful of delivery services, each with a different delivery lead time. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the time to delivery, the more you'll pay.
As you compare lead times, expect the following delivery speeds from express couriers:
- Overnight (delivered next business day)
- 1-2 business days
- 3-5 business days
- 7-14 business days
Here’s a quick overview of delivery lead times for a 3 kg parcel sent from Montreal to the US.
Here we see that Canada Post offers its XpressPost USA services in 2-5 business days for CAD 44.95. DHL Express is the fastest option at 1-3 business days, but the price is more than double that of Canada Post. These rates also include the duty and tax for importing to the US. And when you purchase a shipping label, the Canadian express couriers will clear US customs on your behalf, unless instructed otherwise.
You can ship from Canada to the US in as little as 1-2 business days, depending on how much you’re willing to pay. For economy rates, you can expect delivery in 2-4 business days.
Air freight is the second fastest way to ship from Canada to the US.
Your cargo is loaded onto a palette in a Canadian port then flown to a port in the US. Typically, port to port transit takes about 2 days. Then your shipment must clear customs, which can take up a couple more days.
Next, you’ll coordinate the movement of your product from the US port to its destination. For warehouse-bound shipments, you'll need to hire a transport truck. If you have a stateside logistic partner, though, they’ll do this on your behalf automatically.
For door-to-door shipping to customers, allocate 1-2 weeks for delivery. Your shipment must arrive at port, clear customs, then get picked up and go out for delivery.
Truck freight is a transport method that varies by the distance to delivery. For example, it takes roughly four days for a truck to drive from Montreal to Los Angeles. This includes time at customs.
On average, a transport truck can drive 550 miles (or 885 kilometers) per day. This is because truck drivers are legally required to drive no more than 11-13 hours per day, country depending. Environmental factors like weather can also slow delivery speeds.
Be sure to account for the time it takes to reserve an available truck. Since other shipper also need trucks, it can take 1-3 days to get your shipment in motion.
All told, truck freight can take 2-6 days to reach its destination stateside. Your time in transit is mostly a function of distance, so be sure to ask your freight company how long it'll be to ship from Canada to the US.
Sea freight is the slowest way to ship from Canada to the US.
As with all cross-border freight, your shipment is assembled at a sea port for export. Once cleared from customs, expect your shipment to reach its destination port in 1-4 weeks. The variance is due to the fact that shipments crossing from one ocean to the next must travel through the Panama Canal to reach the other coast.
Upon arrival at the receiving port, your cargo is assessed by customs authorities. This can take a couple days, and more if cargo in your shipment is flagged for inspection. Next, your shipment is transported to your designated warehouse.
In total, sea freight can take 6-7 weeks to reach the end-customer.
The Cost of Shipping From Canada To The US
The cost of shipping between Canada and the States depends on your shipping method.
For example, reserving cargo space on a boat is more expensive than paying for express services for a single parcel. Here’s how shipping from Canada to the US differs in price.
Courier services set a different rate for each cross-border shipping services. Rates for shipping from Canada to the US with express couriers depends on the following factors:
- Shipment weight
- Delivery speed
Getting the cheapest rates starts with comparing rates between courier services. For example, here are Easyship’s discounted rates (up to 70% off) for shipping a 3 kg. package from Montreal to Denver, Colorado.
The cheapest rate is from Canada Post at $36.82. If we want out package to arrive faster than 2-5 business days, we can use DHL Express but it’s double the price.
The following express couriers ship from Canada to the US:
Make sure you compare rates across couriers before you ship, or you may miss out on the cheapest rates. Rather than visiting individual courier websites, you can use our Free Shipping Rate Calculator. This way, all the best rates are compiled in one easy-to-view space in seconds.
A full 62% of goods imported from Canada to the US arrive by truck. This shipping method offers a blend of cost savings, timeliness, and tracking visibility.
The costs of truck freight depends on whether you ship using one of two available methods: Full Truck Load (FTL) or Less Than Truckload (LTL).
- Full truckload (FTL): When you purchase the entire cargo space of a 14’ trucking trailer. Best if you’re shipping six or more palettes of cargo at a time.
- Less than truckload (LTL): When you only pay for a portion of the trucking trailer. Useful when you only need a few palettes. However, may be slower because other cargo will get loaded into the truck en route.
You can expect to pay between $0.10-$0.75 per pound of cargo of truck freight. A reasonable average is somewhere between $0.22-$0.45 per pound.
Truck freight pricing varies according to several factors, including:
- Cargo weight
- Category of cargo
- Minimum base rate per shipment
- Distance (per mile)
If you’re shipping a medium to large-sized shipment to the US from Canada, be sure to consider truck freight as a cost and time-effective option.
The cost of Canada-US air freight depends on your shipment weight and travel distance. Air freight services are priced per kilogram. You can get cheaper rates if you ship greater volumes.
You can expect to pay around $70 per kilogram for air freight at lower volumes. When you ship 100 kg or more, though, the price drops to around $9/kg. For shipments of 300 kg+, the price falls to $4-5/kg.
Sea freight accounts for around 90% of all global cross-border shipments because it’s inexpensive and reliable. Your rate for sea freight shipping between Canada and the US depends on cargo weight and delivery distance. Like truck freight, sea freight costs also vary by which method of sea freight you use: FCL or LCL.
Full Container Load (FCL): You pay a prorated amount for the entire space in a 20-40 foot shipping container. This can be cost-effective if you need a lot of space. FCL sea freight is a good option if your shipment is around 10 cubic meters in volume. Typically, a full container shipment costs between $2000-$3000.
Less Than Container Load (LCL): Useful if your freight shipment doesn’t fill a shipping container. The minimum space you can reserve with LCL sea freight is 1 cubic meter. Prices are prorated to increase with the cargo volume. You’ll save 40-60% off your FCL prices when you ship FCL. Contact a freight courier to get a quote.
Import Factors From Canada To The US
Canada accounts for nearly 15% off all US imports, making it the second-largest trading partner of the US.
Every shipment exported from Canada to the US must clear customs. Customs officials in the US will use your attached customs paperwork to determine:
- Shipment contents
- Duty and tax owed, if any
If you owe duty or tax on your shipment, either you or the recipient must pay these fees in full. If not, the delivery cannot be completed. If you’re an eCommerce merchant, you’ll choose who pays the import fees when you purchase your shipping label.
Here’s the scoop on importing goods to the US from Canada.
US Import Duty and Tax
You may need to pay import duty and/or import tax on your shipment to the US. Fortunately, exporting from Canada to the US is usually inexpensive for two reasons:
- Canadian-made goods may be duty free: NAFTA ushered in a duty-exemption for goods made entirely in Canada and Mexico. You’ll need to include a proof of origin document with your customs paperwork to quality.
- Section 321: The US duty threshold is set at $800, thanks to legislation known as Section 321. In other words, you pay no import duty on shipments valued at less than $800.
Of course, you may still need to pay import tax on your shipments. As found on our US shipping country page, the import tax for the US is a 10% VAT/GST – seen below.
Looking to determine the total duty and tax for your next US-bound shipment?
Just enter your shipment info into our Free Duty and Tax Calculator. This handy tool will show you all the estimated duty and taxes for your specific shipment
Required US Customs Documents
US customs agents require certain documents to determine the contents of your shipment and assess any duty and tax owed. For merchants, Canadian exports to the US need the following paperwork:
- Commercial invoice
- Battery statement
- Tax documentation
- Shipping label
- Pre-Arrival Processing System number (for truck freight only)
- NATFA certificate of origin (for duty exemptions on Canada-made goods)
Easyship users get all their customs documents generated on their behalf. Whenever you create a shipment, all your country-specific documentation is made up automatically. In other words, you can always be sure you got your US import paperwork right.
Want help with your US customs paperwork? Check out this full guide to customs paperwork.
US Restricted/Prohibited Items
The US, like all countries, restricts or prohibits certain items from crossing its borders. Make sure to check that your shipment isn’t packing any contraband. If prohibited items are discovered, your shipment will be detained at customs until you arrange for its return.
Here are the items that are restricted or prohibited from entering the US, as found on our US country shipping page.
Shipping From Canada To The US
Shipping from Canada to the US can be as fast or inexpensive as you need it to be. For smaller merchants, your best options are express couriers like Canada Post, or truck freight for larger movements of inventory. Shipments can arrive in as little as 1-3 days, or up to a week.
For larger merchants, importing to the US from Canada can be done via air, sea, or truck freight. Air is faster than trucks and sea freight is slowest of all – but cheapest. Your shipment volume will determine your final costs for freight shipping, and the larger cargo loads are best suited from shipping containers or trucks.
Make sure to calculate the costs of US duty and tax into your figures. And remember that shipments less than $800 in value incur no duty. Nor will goods made entirely in Canada.
Want to save up to 70% off your next courier shipment to the US? Just create a free Easyship account. For any merchant sending fewer than 100 shipments per month, Easyship is always free. You can create your free Easyship account here.