How to Ship from Canada to the US?

Shipping from Canada to the US can be achieved through several methods though transportation by truck is the most common. Though it can be intimidating to navigate the process at first, cross-border shipping becomes easier when you keep  a few key things in mind and partner with a carrier who is experienced in shipping within both countries.

Here we will look at the methods used for shipping from Canada to the US, required documentation, tips for packing your shipment, and prohibited, controlled, and regulated export items.

Methods for Shipping from Canada to the US

When shipping across the border, there are a multitude of shipping methods available including by mail, courier, bus, train, plane, air, and truck.  Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the ways to use each method most effectively.

Best for Small Packages: Mail service is the most common method used when you have a single, small to medium sized package that needs shipping. Typically, anything under 100 lbs can go through the mail. Bus transport may also be an option for smaller, lighter packages.

Cheapest Per Pound Rate: Rail transport is often the cheapest by pound method of shipping especially if you have a large enough shipment to fill an entire train car. However, train transport tends to be slower than other methods. This is partially because items usually cannot be loaded onto trains directly. They must be transported to the train by truck.

Fastest Method: Air transport is by far the fastest shipping method and is ideal for many perishable and time sensitive items. However, it is also the most expensive.

Best Overall Method: Shipping via truck is the most common way to ship between Canada and the US. Both cost effective and relatively quick, truck transport is the best overall option when it comes to speed and cost.

shipping via truck

Tips for Packing Your Cross-Border Shipment

Shipping Labels: Shipping labels may seem like a small thing but they can make or break the success of your shipment. If any of the information is not legible or missing, it can severely delay the progress of your shipment.

To avoid this, make sure your shipping labels have the following:

  • Any important transit instructions
  • Weight and measurements of the package
  • Port of destination
  • All contact information for the consignee  – this info should be on at least three sides of the package including the top, bottom, and at least one side.
  • Special handling instructions such as “fragile” or “handle with care”
  • Order number and/or invoice number plus the package number
  • Your labels should, ideally, also include a clear protective layer to prevent ink from smudging or the label tearing off

Palletize Items:  Items that are on pallets and that can be stacked are the easiest to handle. Avoiding awkwardly shaped and fragile packages will reduce the chances of damage. It will also make your shipping costs cheaper since fragile items take longer to handle and will cost more.

What Can You Not Send to the US?

While most items can be exported with relative ease, there are some that are controlled, restricted, or outright prohibited. Prohibited items are largely obvious categories such as illegal drugs. Regulated and controlled items are a bit more nuanced but can include some pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, certain cultural items and more.

You must also be aware that there are things that the Canadian government regulates or prohibits and there are things that the US may not allow. There is not a definitive list of all products but if you have doubts about your own items, you can reach out to the Government of Canada’s Trade Controls & Technical Barriers Bureau.

Simplify with a Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder is an individual or company that strategizes how to get your shipment from your business or warehouse to the end market. A freight forwarder’s services can be absolutely invaluable especially if you are new to cross-border shipping. While freight forwarders can also work within a country, they are particularly important in helping you navigate international shipping.

A freight forwarder typically offers several services combined including assistance with shipment insurance and documentation. Many will also have warehousing facilities, packaging and palletizing services, and insurance.

freight forwarder

Get a Free Quote for Shipping from Canada to the US

Opening shipping to a new country is one of the best ways to grow your customer base. At RoadLINX, we help you navigate this process with our trusted network of experienced logistics experts and carriers.

To request your free quote for shipping from Canada to the US, call us at 905-760-1141. We offer refrigerated shipping options, LTL and FTL shipping, last mile delivery, and everything you need to serve your customers better.

Get a quote today!



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