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A 2021 Guide to Cheap Shipping to USA From Canada

Diana Zheng
  •  
  •  
March 4, 2021

Canadian online stores are increasing day by day, with a forecasted 5.21 million sellers this year alone. If that isn’t impressive enough, an estimated 230.5 million shoppers from the US are expected to rely on the web to purchase their wants and needs in 2021. The recent pandemic has caused many physical stores to close and shoppers to remain at home due to intensified social distancing protocols. Nonetheless, the worldwide web has become a welcome refuge to both sellers and buyers. Like a true epitome of the adage, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, many physical stores that have gone online have not only thrived but excelled. Online shopping has also brought a new kind of joy to shoppers.

As an online store, shipping to USA is a huge opportunity you don’t want to miss. Suppose you are new to the shipping field or just about to start this exciting venture. In that case, we are here to provide you with the details you need to know about cheap shipping to USA from Canada and the complete shipping solutions you’ll need. 

Here are the topics we’ll discuss: 

I. US to Canada Shipping Cost: Customs Fees and Guidelines

II. Shipping to USA: Allowed, Restricted, and Prohibited Items

III. Complete Shipping Solutions when Shipping To USA

IV. 5 Golden Rules To Achieve Cheapest Way to Ship to Canada from USA and Vice Versa

V. 5 Common Shipping Mistakes : to Avoid

Shipping to USA Cost: Customs Fees and Guidelines

US Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) will be your international priority (shipping to US). They are in charge of all the incoming packages from different countries, including Canada. When preparing to use shipping services, you must first know customs guidelines and fees—details on duties and taxes to pay also affect your shipping to USA costs. Let’s check how. 

Customs Requirements

You need to prepare a lot of documents and permits when shipping to USA. You need to declare the value of your shipment through a business or commercial invoice. For Canadian sellers shipping to USA, you’ll need a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or now called US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), certificate. More forms you or your customs broker need to complete are the following: 

  • Bill of Lading/Airway Bill
  • Entry Manifest
  • Immediate delivery for fresh produce
  • Harmonized System Tariff Code
  • Other certificates are coming from the US Food and Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission, and other concerned departments depending on your shipment. 

These requirements may seem daunting at first, but success is sweeter when the process of achieving it is a bit challenging. As time passes and as more and more shoppers from the US buy from you, you’ll get used to the process and even embrace it. 

Along with the paperwork, there will be the fees you need to pay. Knowledge of these details will help you achieve cheap shipping to the USA from Canada. Hence, let’s talk about the payments you need to make. 

The Customs Fees to Know: 

There are many different types of entries when shipping to USA, but here are the three main entries you are likely to encounter as a Canadian eCommerce seller. These entry types will define how much tax and duty you will pay for your US shipment. 

  1. Section 321 Entry: If you are shipping items less than USD800, your shipment will be duty-free. 

You may also be exempted from paying tax and duty through the Duty Relief Program, Drawback Program, and Bonded Warehouse Program. You can register your company to these programs if you are importing goods into the US with the plan of exporting them after. 

  1. Formal Entry: Shipments containing items that are USD2500 and up will have import tax depending on the classification of the items sent. The US CBP has the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes where  all types of objects shipped into the US are listed with corresponding duty rates. You can calculate how much you will pay with it, though the US CBP can also provide you with an easily calculated cost. 

For this type of entry, an entry bond is also charged. As a beginner in the field of shipping to USA, you may choose per shipment payments of your taxes, duties, and bonds through single entry bonds. As you grow your business and ship more often, you may opt to pay on a lump sum basis at a later date through annual bonds. 

Remember for these products: feather products, gloves, handbags, pillows, cushions, rubber, textile, and toys, even if the cost is less than USD2500, you will still be required to do a formal entry. 

Customs Broker - Another vital detail you need to remember about formal entries is that you will be required to have a customs broker. These are the tasks a customs broker will handle for you:

  • Handle all the requirements needed once your goods reach the US CBP
  • Securing any required documents from different US departments
  • Paying of bonds 
  • Clearance of your goods to avoid additional customs storage costs

US Customs brokers are trained and always updated on any changes in border regulations, so having them as your partners will come in handy. There are websites you can check to look for customs brokers you can partner with. 

  1. Informal Entry: For items costing less than USD2500, these are classified as informal entries. This type of shipment may or may not require duty, tax, and a bond depending on the US CBP’s decision. 

Now that you know about the type of entries, how do you imagine yourself shipping to USA? Do you see yourself having a lot of informal entries? Are you looking into frequently sending the bulk of your products to your partner US stores and pay annually? Let’s dive deeper into how tax and duty are calculated. 

Customs Tax and Duty Rate Computation

Step 1: Know first your Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code. HTS is the 10-digit code you will get for your product. Each number in the code represents the HTS chapter, heading, subheading, and statistical classification. The US government has an HTS database with a complete list of all the items you can ship and how much you need to pay. Check the site to see where the item you are shipping will fall. After that, the computation begins. 

Step 2: You will get the duty rate once you get the HTS code of your shipment. Take note of the rate. 

Step 3: Now, multiply the duty rate by the value of your shipment. 

Step 4: If you are handling the customs duty rate, this cost will be on top of your shipping costs. If you will pass on to the client the customs fees, you need to indicate the amount you computed as a part of their payment. 

Sample computation:

  1. Suppose you will send thyme costing USD2600 to the US.
  2. Check the HTS code and duty rate, which would be 4.8% based on the database.
  3. Multiply the rate by the item cost.

The duty rate you need to pay or pass on to your buyer is USD124.8. 

To achieve cheap shipping to USA from Canada, you need to know the details of where the costs are. US customs fees are just some of the costs you need to know. As we go on, you will see what causes towering fees you need to pay. Hence, you’ll know how to avoid them. 

Shipping to USA: Allowed, Restricted, and Prohibited Items

Note what you can and cannot send in the US; it will save you time, energy, and money. When you ship restricted and prohibited items in the US, your shipment will be held in US CBP’s warehouses, which can cost you daily payments. Worse, the items you invested in may also be destroyed. So, equip yourself with knowledge about this topic to inhibit the mentioned challenges from happening. 

Below are some of the restricted and prohibited items shipping to USA.

  • Any kinds of prohibited drugs like marijuana
  • Medical drugs and medical equipment
  • Any types of explosives like fireworks and ammunitions
  • Liquids and aerosols like dry ice, perfumes, paint, and gasoline
  • Any perishable items such as fruits, vegetables 

You may visit US CBP’s website for a complete list of items you cannot ship to the US

Are the goods you sell any of these restricted and prohibited items? If not, then that is excellent news! All other items not on the list of prohibited and restricted items are allowed to enter the US. Get your complete shipping solutions ready and search for the cheapest way to ship from Canada to USA. 

Complete Shipping Solutions when Shipping To USA

There are a lot of shipping companies in Canada that offer shipping services and complete shipping solutions. If you want to achieve cheap shipping to USA from Canada, going for standard shipping would be the best choice as they have more affordable rates. Nonetheless, express shipping that satisfies the need for speed of some sellers is also available. As a seller, you should know the factors affecting shipping time and cost.

Standard Shipping Services: Cost and Delivery Time

For standard shipping, the delivery time takes 5-12 business days.As an online seller, you should consider planning your shipping schedule to avoid your buyers from waiting. Costs differ if you will go straight to a National Carrier, or you will ship via cross border shippers like Stallion Express. For Stallion Express, standard shipping only takes 2-4 business days, and rates are some of the lowest. For instance, you only need to pay CAD4.39 for every 113 grams weight on a shipment sent to New York. So, sending via cross-border shippers is the cheapest way to ship from Canada to USA.

Aside from being cheap, here are the advantages of shipping via cross-border shippers like Stallion Express: 

  1. You may be able to pass the shipping costs onto the client since it’s low, and the customer would not be impacted by the additional cost of shipping since it’s not that high. 
  2. You may offer free shipping if you do not want the customer to be burdened and increase the goods' price to cover the shipping costs.
  3. Stallion Express allows eCommerce sellers to link their stores to their website for smoother shipping transactions. 
  4. Stallion Express has pickup locations all over Canada where you can conveniently print labels and drop your packages for shipping.
  5. Are you an Amazon seller? Skip the hassle of packing and shipping your products, Stallion Express also provides this service. 

If you are serious about using cheap shipping to USA from Canada, this is the way to go. 

Express Shipping Services: Cost and Delivery Time

Suppose you want to achieve cheap shipping to USA from Canada. In that case, we do not recommend constant usage of express shipping services. Speedy delivery will cost you tons of money you could have allotted to your other shipping needs. If you’ll need fast delivery, there are many express shipping services you can use. Some deliveries will reach your receiver in 1-3 business days and international priority shipping that will send your mail to the flight closest to departing. If you are looking into long-term cheap shipping to USA, use express services less often and plan your shipping calendar wisely. 

Rules To Achieve Cheapest Way to Ship from USA to Canada and Vice Versa

You will see a lot of advice on the web or even friendly advice from seasoned sellers about shipping to the US. Still, to make things easier, we want you to remember only three. Once you memorise these five golden rules, you will achieve the cheapest way to ship to Canada from USA and vice versa. 

  1. Know how customs works, and be prepared with the tax and duty you need to pay.

We have allotted a whole section for the customs guidelines and fees you need to know because of its utmost importance. You need to know how to calculate your duties and taxes. At the same time, you must remember the guidelines that will cost you additional charges if you break. 

Primarily, do not ship items that are prohibited and restricted as you will not only be fined, you may also face legal consequences. Take extra effort in checking if the product you are shipping is under quota rules. Not knowing that you are sending more than the allowed quantity will cause your products to be held in CBP warehouses and the daily costs will be charged to you. Not to mention, if your buyer expects these items on a specific date, your reputation for timely shipping will be tainted. So, know customs guidance by heart. 

  1. Choose cross border shippers over a National Carrier.

Shipping via a National Carrier is tried and tested, that is true. However, giving a chance to cross-border shippers will not fail you. Try and see how much you will save with cross-border shippers for the same shipping you would expect in a National Carrier, and your savings will surprise you. 

  1. Practice efficient packing.

Efficient packing begins during your product brainstorming. When planning how you will package the items you will sell, think in advance. Think of shipping internationally and selling through huge shopping websites and not only displaying your items on physical stores. Hence, you can make your packaging not too bulky and not take up too much space. 

With packaging like this, it is easy to pack them into the smallest boxes with the lowest price. You do not want to end up shipping your product without its packaging because it is too bulky and gives you the unreasonable additional shipping cost. 

In packing, consider materials that are sturdy but environmentally friendly. Take into account materials which may be prohibited to the area or country of the receiver. Remember that your product will be passed on from one transport to another in shipping, so ensure that it is properly protected while still achieving the minimum dimension to save come costs. 

  1. Shipping calendar creation

As already mentioned earlier, planning a shipping calendar can help you achieve cheap shipping to USA from Canada and vice versa. A shipping calendar will ensure that you will not need to express costly shipping services. You can also save yourself from Holiday and peak days surcharges.

For instance, if you want to achieve the cheapest way to ship from USA to Canada, it’s better not to ship on Canadian holidays. In America, ship before or after Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. The biggest celebrations of the year like Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s Day are all days when different shipping companies enact additional charges. They announce these extra fees in advance, so you’ll have an idea how much more you will spend because you failed to send your products before the holidays. 

  1. Know the delivery time difference when shipping by truck, by plane, or by ship.

The standard shipping services by plane or truck takes 5-12 business days. Hence, ship your goods at least a week ahead to reach its destination on time. International priority shipping is available if you need faster deliveries. 

By ship, send your packages a month in advance at least to avoid the worry of your shipments not arriving on your desired dates. If you are really into achieving cheap shipping to USA from Canada and vice versa, sending your products via ship is the most economical choice you have. 

You can research how else you can achieve the cheapest way to ship from USA to Canada and vice versa for additional knowledge. Nonetheless, following these three golden rules can already save you a lot. 

Common Shipping Mistakes to Avoid

While there are best practices you can do to ensure you are on track in your plan to attain the cheapest way to ship from USA to Canada and vice versa, you should note the common mistakes to avoid. 

  1. Shipping during peaks seasons

When are the peak seasons in the shipping industry? Mid-July to mid-October, beginning of the year specifically January and February, Black Friday in the US, Single’s Day in China, and other international, national, and local holidays. During these months, peak surcharges apply. It is a huge lapse to ship when peak surcharges apply. Create a game plan that will make off-peak season shipping work for your growing business instead. 

  1. Detail mistakes on necessary forms

Is shipping from USA to Canada considered international? Yes, shipping to the US from Canada and vice versa are considered international. You need to  complete a lot of forms to pass the customs borders. There should be no room for mistakes, especially on the critical details inputted on forms. For instance, writing the wrong address can cost CAD11 to CAD60 depending on the shipping type you chose. Inaccurate product value declaration can also cost you money and possible legal charges from the US CBP or the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). 

  1. More surcharges you didn’t know exist

You have already created a budget plan for your international shipping, but it did not go as planned because of the surcharges you didn't know existed. 

Other surcharges you should note are additional payments you need to make due to fuel changes. Yes, there is such a thing. You also need to pay residential surcharges when the address where your item should be delivered is not within the places the shipping company delivers. Insurance fees, requesting to ship on weekends, and delivery re-attempt for delayed shipments are some of the items to add in your budget plan. 

  1. Compromising smooth cross-border delivery by not knowing the significance of a customs broker

In the movies, superheroes always have sidekicks. The characteristics the prominent superhero lacks, the sidekick usually provides. They are also there as support. If you do not think of customs brokers this way but see them only as an additional cost to your shipping, that’s a mistake. 

A customs broker will be your hand, head, and body who will accomplish all needed steps in the US or Canada in your absence. They are well-trained individuals who know how to get things done efficiently and quickly. They will ensure that your reputation for on-time and legal deliveries are protected. Establishing a good relationship with your customs broker will help you grow your business internationally. 

  1. Packing inefficiently

Could you place your items in any box where it fits? Yes, but this kind of packing will not help you achieve cheap shipping to USA from Canada and vice versa. Shipping companies measure your package's dimensions and the weight to determine how much they will charge you. There is little you can do to control the weight, but there are ways to pack and decrease your shipping costs efficiently in packaging size. 

You can begin by using efficient original packaging of your products. If your items' established box is too bulky, you can repack to tighter boxes to minimize unused space. You may also drop the products' packages and ship products covered with protective bubble wraps and similar materials instead. 

Summary

In a nutshell, cheap shipping to USA from Canada and vice versa cannot be achieved overnight. It would be best if you had a thorough understanding of the US CBP and CBSA guidelines and fees to know precisely how much you will pay for your tax and duty. The laws and regulations should be followed for the smooth passing of your items to the border. With that comes the knowledge of the accepted and prohibited goods to be shipped in the US and Canada. Once you know these details, you are ready for the next step of looking for the best and cheapest way to ship from USA to Canada and vice versa. 

Standard and express shipping services are available in many shipping companies in Canada. However, we strongly suggest partnering with cross-border shippers like Stallion Express.

Partnering with Stallion Express can give you a lot of advantages. To begin with, we offer cheap shipping to USA from Canada. We have flexible payment methods, unlike other shipping companies. We have a team of IT experts who will handle your online store's syncing to our shipping database. Syncing your store to our database will make your shipping process more manageable. We have several locations in Canada where you can comfortably drop off your packages. You may also request for packing, picking, and shipping services, all of which we  provide. 

We assure you that the best Canada to US practices will be enacted in shipping your goods. We are well-versed on the common mistakes in local, international, and shipping to the US. Hence, you can rely on us to do your shipping right. 

Visit our website to know us more or contact us at 877-863-7477 if you have any questions. We are happy to assist you.   

Get started today! Ship faster, smarter, cheaper with Stallion.

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Diana Zheng
Written by Diana Zheng

Diana leads the growth marketing initiatives at Stallion Express. As a personal trainer turned digital marketer, Diana is obsessed with equipping eCommerce entrepreneurs with everything they need to scale their online businesses. You can catch her doing yoga or hitting the tennis courts in her spare time.

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