Shipping from Canada to the United States (US)
A simple guide to help you ship your products to the U.S. quickly and easily
At FlagShip, we strive to make sure our policies, information and guidelines on our website are as accurate and up-to-date as possible. However, we are not customs brokers and this information is to be used as a guide. PLEASE consult your customs broker directly before shipping as customs laws and procedures often change without warning.
For many Canadian businesses using a courier service, shipping products efficiently and safely from Canada to the U.S. is vital for them to thrive. Sometimes, the process and paperwork may seem daunting but don’t worry; FlagShip has years of experience.
We’ve created this simple guide to help you navigate through shipping from Canada to the U.S. with our courier service.
At FlagShip our dedicated team can facilitate all your Canada to U.S. shipping needs, here are just a few of the way we can help:
- By giving you the most affordable rates available
- Explaining regulations of shipments to the U.S.
- Assisting with customs procedures
All our information is compliant with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the US International Trade Commission and other government resources to ensure we are up-to-date on all rules and regulations.
Courier rates to the U.S.
Start the process of shipping your goods from Canada to the U.S. by reviewing and comparing the best rates and service options from the most reliable carrier companies in the world.
What are you shipping from Canada to the U.S.?
FlagShip is ready to help you deliver your shipment across the border easier, faster and hassle-free. Here are some examples and guidelines for common products to simplify your shipment processing.
To learn more click on any of the following:
- Includes contracts, bills and letters
- Checks – always note it’s a business document and recommend not to add ‘check’ in the product name or description
The gift exemption for eligible gifts imported into the U.S. is USD$100 or less, per gift, per recipient. For consolidated gift shipments, the name of each individual receiving a gift, the description of the gift item(s) for each individual, and the value of each item must be shown on the Commercial Invoice. Each gift in the shipment must be clearly identified as one gift. And, the complete name, address and phone number of both the shipper and consignee must be stated on the Commercial Invoice.
If any item exceeds the gift allowance, the entire shipment will be dutiable.
The following items are excluded from the USD$100 gift exemption. Shipments containing these items may be subject to duties and taxes, as well as formal entry requirements.
• Perfumes containing alcohol
• Bath, cosmetic, and beauty products containing antibacterial agents
Non-perishable Food Items and Gift Baskets Containing Non-perishable Food Items
To help reduce customs delays by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the description on the Commercial Invoice must include whether the item is homemade or store-bought (e.g., ‘Homemade (or store-bought) chocolate cookies – for personal consumption, not for resale’). For store-bought items, the manufacturer’s name and address must be shown on the Commercial Invoice.
If a company name appears on the shipping or customs documentation it is no longer considered a personal shipment. This also applies to shipments that are addressed to or from an individual c/o their company name and address.
Please note that Kinder chocolate eggs are prohibited from import into the U.S.
- A 3299 Form must be accompanied with commercial invoice
- A copy of a passport or Visa/Green Card
- An approved visa for work and/or immigration allowing your residency in the U.S.
- Reason if personal item is being returned: ex. left behind on vacation, business trip, etc.
- Description of the product being returned. This must be low value
- Commercial samples can be imported duties and taxes free providing the following conditions are met:
- The word "Sample - Not for Resale " is stated on the commercial invoice under General Description and Detail Description of Goods
- Specify the HS Code for the sample on the Commercial Invoice
- The sample are not resold under an exact duplicate or replica (i.e. knock-offs)
- Samples that are marked, defaced, torn, perforated or otherwise treated so that they are unsuitable for sale
- Does not contain food to be eaten or consumed. See Food Samples for more info
- Additional Notes:
- The sample can be a different size or material than the good it is representing
- The sample can be a miniature version or have a cutaway sample revealing the construction of the product (i.e. cut in half showing the inside of the item)
- Cloth samples and color cards that display the different colors of merchandise are eligible
- Food Samples:
- Although food samples (and other consumables) may be brought in as "commercial samples" for display and solicitation of orders, they may not be distributed as samples to be eaten or consumed.
- If they are to be eaten (or otherwise consumed in a normal matter), regular entry and duty payment (if any) are required
- Businesses shipping food samples must also complete a Prior Notice
- Trade Show Samples:
- Must be indicated on the commercial invoice - Promotional Material: Not for resale, Product samples/pamphlets to hands out at a trade show
- Indicate “Company Transfer,” not sold
- Value is low as it is not sold and travelling between the same company
- Items for a convention (indicate each item in description):
- Promotional items, (indicate in description; promotional item, not for resale)
- Include the following in product description:
- Pens – TSCA needed
- Clothing – include type of clothing and fabrics
- The words "REPAIR & RETURN" are stated on the commercial invoice under General Description or Remarks
- Value of the product INCLUDING the Cost of the Repair must be indicated under the Detailed Description of Goods section
- Original shipping docs or tracking number from when the item was first exported to the US
- NOTE: If you don't have the original tracking information or documentation then the recipient may be charged duties and taxes on the shipment.
Trade Show Booth and Display:
- Commercial invoice must indicate: Temporary Imports - Trade Show booth and display equipment returning indicate the date
- Include the following in product description:
- If it’s a part that is broken under warranty, indicate the information in the description
- If part is defective, or the wrong part, indicate that information in the description
- “Value” will not be full value; it will be lower than the original price (must be a value of minimum $10 USD)
- Replacement – indicate the part that is a replacement under warranty.
Prohibited & Restricted Items
This list of prohibited items is based on carriers and customs for shipping from Canada to the U.S. It’s important to keep in mind that this list is always changing, so it’s always best to check the official customs restrictions page.
- Weapons / Ammunition (need special license)
- Alcoholic beverages (unless you have a license)
- Batteries (must be Certified in Hazmat for both shipper and receiver)
- Tobacco products
- Illegal substance or paraphernalia
A restricted item is something that requires a special license from federal agency before item is allowed to enter the country. This list is based on carriers and customs for shipping from Canada to the U.S.
- Cell phones: They are allowed but at a low quantity and proper value must be indicated. Completely prohibited by DHL (air shipments)
- iPad: Allowed, except DHL
- Laptops: Allowed, except DHL
- Supplements: Allowed but keep under low quantity
- Nail polish: Allowed with no alcohol
- Maple syrup: Allowed in small quantities, however they may ask for a Lacey Form
- Hand sanitizers: Alcohol-based, not allowed
As a general rule, candies, condiments, spices, coffee and teas that are commercially packaged are generally ok. However, bulk teas or spices, etc. are subject to inspection and if they are found to have insects, they may be seized and destroyed.
Call 1-866-320-8383 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All our customer service representatives (CSRs) are live every day during 8:00am – 5:00pm EST to help with all your questions about shipping from Canada to the U.S. (and other destinations around the world)! They are trained, certified and experienced in international shipping business procedures.
Documents, Forms and Certificates
For each type of product there is usually some paperwork to fill out. Review the list below to find out what documentation you’ll need for your product shipment from Canada to the U.S.
- In Canada the agreement is referred to as CUSMA whereas in the United States, it is known as the USMCA and in Mexico it is called the T-MEC
- The CUSMA preserves key elements of the trading relationship between Canada, the United States and Mexico as stated in the original NAFTA, and incorporates new and updated provisions that seek to address 21st-century trade issues
- The CUSMA / USMCA must be completed if:
- Your product was made within Canada, US or Mexico
- For all export or import shipments to / from U.S. and Mexico
Anything containing wood products. Example, instruments, tools, furniture, etc.
Any ink products. Example, cartridge, pens, etc.
Any food products that are of high volume and high value
- All Canadian exporters that ship outside of North America must report exports and submit summary reports electronically through either the Canadian Export Reporting System (CERS) or the G7 Export Reporting Electronic Data Interchange (G7-EDI). Click here to learn more.
- How to get started on the CERS? Before you can register and access the CERS Portal, you must apply to become a portal client. You can apply to become a portal client by downloading the application found on the CERS site and submit it by email to: email@example.com
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2877 form is a declaration for imported electronic products (and their parts) subject to the FDA's radiation control standards
This is asked for products that are questioned with the U.S. or Canadian Government to protect Canadian and U.S., manufacturing industry from foreign manufacturers. This form may be asked for by customs if they suspect the products are being dumped or subsidized also known as countervailing. The U.S. government is more likely to ask for a SIMA if certain products were manufactured in China.
Duties and Taxes
It’s always important to ensure hassle-free delivery by understanding Duties and Taxes for your products when shipping from Canada to the U.S.
Shipping under $800 (Informal Entry):
Tax is never applied when shipping to the US and duties may be applied, depending on the product
- Section 321 Low value – this is determined by the custom broker in the U.S.
Shipping High Value (Formal Entry):
Over $1,000- $2,499 USD.
- Company – you will need to provide their Tax ID number, otherwise they will be contacted to provide the proper information. The tax ID number belonging to the ‘sold to company’ for the product being shipped must be indicated on the commercial invoice.
- Personal/Individual – You will need their Social Security Number, otherwise they will be contacted by Customs to give the information to them
If there is no CUSMA, the cost is based on the amount it was sold for to the US recipient.
- The U.S. and Canadian governments have the right to pull any shipment randomly to investigate. In these cases, shipments can be held from 1 -2 weeks.
- There may be extra charges if the package is held for inspection:
- ex. Held by the FDA, Agriculture Dept. This can be held from one week to six months
- If the FDA, Customs, or other Government department decide to deny entry, your package will be returned to you. Depending on the reason for denial of entry there could be penalty fees and after several citations your company could be denied from exporting and importing
Tracking your shipments
If you encounter any difficulty tracking your shipment, please to contact us to resolve the problem.
We are there to guide and assist.
Call 1-866-320-8383 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note these specific requirements and guidelines for document or product shipment from Canada to the U.S.:
Documents do not need a commercial invoice
- Must be labeled Business Documents or Personal Documents
- If you are sending a check, be advised to NOT state there is a check in the envelope. When sending a check, it is recommended that you put Business Documents in the description, and it is placed in a small envelope between two sheets of paper and put into a courier envelope or your own legal-size envelope
Shipping under $800 is “Informal Entry”: there are no taxes and duties
- Section 321 – Low value, this is determined by the custom broker in the U.S.
Shipping High Value is “Formal Entry” – Over $1,000- $2,499 USD
- Company – you will need to provide their tax ID number, otherwise they will be contacted to provide the proper information
- Personal/Individual – you will need their Social Security Number, otherwise they will be contacted by Customs to give the information to them
- If you need a commercial invoice, our website will generate one for you. You can use our commercial invoice, or your supplier can use their own
- A custom broker must be located in the U.S.
- On the commercial invoice “Product Name” and “Description” must be different
- Importer on record is liable for the shipment, no matter what the commercial invoice says
- If they (the importer) have a custom broker on file it will be cleared by them, even if you have indicated your own custom broker
If you have stated false information or if there is any misinformation, your shipment will be flagged. You may also encounter a fine with charges. Unfortunately, once you have been flagged there may be more inspections on your shipments leading to Customs looking closer at all your shipments. If it continues and you receive several flags, then it is possible you can be banned from shipping internationally.
How do I use a tariff code?
- Look up your tariff code here: https://hts.usitc.gov/
- If there is multiple tariff codes and you are not sure, you can leave this section blank. If there is a number that is wrong, you could have extra charges
Can I ship medication from Canada to the U.S.?
- You cannot ship medication of any sort, including over the counter. You will need to contact your pharmacy or doctor and ask them to send the prescription to a pharmacy in the U.S.
- However, if it’s for personal use you can send medication to the U.S. with the following information:
- You have to be able to prove that the medication is going to a Canadian citizen who is in the U.S. temporarily & provide a copy of their passport
- Indicate the intended use of the medication as well as the generic, common & scientific name
- Indicate the name and address of the manufacturer
- Indicate that medication is a 3-month supply or less and is for personal use only, not for resale
Can I ship gift baskets?
Yes, you can ship gift baskets with these requirements:
- No alcohol
- When shipping a food gift basket to the U.S., the following guidelines must be followed, or the shipment will be delayed by the FDA:
- The shipment must be addressed specifically to an individual only
- If it is addressed to or from an individual c/o their company name and address, it is no longer considered a personal shipment
- You must list all items in the basket. In the description field of the air waybill, it must say “food, for personal consumption only” or “food, unsolicited gift” and the description of what is being sent in the shipment
- The commercial invoice must contain the name and address of the manufacturer or if they are home baked goods, it must state as such
Can I ship a care package?
Yes, you can – the same rules as the gift baskets apply here
What can I do if I was billed incorrectly on my fees for importing into the U.S.?
- You must contact the importing country to dispute the charges
- You can also work with your receiver and the U.S. to try to resolve the problem
- If this happens, please contact us and we will be able to assist you. Call our CSRs at 1-866-320-8383 at any time during business hours
What happens if the products are made in China?
- The US government may ask for a SIMA (Anti-Dumping Form)
- U.S. Customs also added taxes and tariffs for products that are manufactured in China. This is usually applied to a high value shipment
Can I use my own custom broker?
- Unfortunately, the importer on record is the one that takes care of the importing and how it is being imported
- The custom broker must be in the importing country