Get Quote
We have the resources you need to get the job done right.
Ready to Ship?
International Freight Shipping: How to Manage Shipping to Canada?

International shipping

No matter the industry you work in, international freight shipping is one of the most powerful means of expanding and boosting your business. Along with the rapid development of global marketplaces and digital shopping, international delivery becomes more and more profitable for national economics. Complicated at a first sight, international freight shipping is all about advanced planning and learning the necessary information. 

What is international freight shipping?

If you are a small business or an individual willing to grow, you have probably thought about shipping goods internationally. The process of international freight shipping may seem challenging and complicated, but when organized properly, it can significantly enhance your trade turnover and expand your customer audience on the global market. So, what is international freight shipping?

International shipping involves the border crossing of your cargo by various transport means - ocean, air, or ground freight transportation. International logistics may seem complicated at first, especially for retailers and business owners who are used to the local or domestic market. However, taking your place in global shipping can help you grow your sales and gain the trust of customers worldwide. Accessing the international market for distributing your products is a weighty step in the development of your business, so do not hesitate to learn more about it.

How to ship freight overseas?

When planning to ship internationally, it is critical to develop a transportation strategy and follow it without skipping any steps. Apparently, international freight shipping requires thorough preparation. On balance, moving goods to other countries, especially to Canada, is nowadays so common that it appears to be a pleasant and profitable experience even for the newcomers. 

The first thing to consider while getting ready for international shipping is gathering information on the goods you are going to move. Try to analyze what items are most wanted by international buyers and remain popular for longer periods. This will give you a prompt on what you are more likely to sell abroad with a better income.

If you are only starting to ship internationally and would like to avoid possible risks, consider shipping items of moderate size. Also, it is safe wise to move your products for shorter distances at the beginning to test the market and see whether you are ready to expand the area of trade. The more familiarized with the market of your interest you become, the easier the demand forecasting gets.  

Preliminary gathering of data also includes the questions of the import and export regulations and restrictions. Dealing with territorial regulations usually engages the customs broker services, but it is better to learn some basics before actually hiring a specialist. Thus you will find out if your goods can cross the border at all. You can easily check it using the official  International Trade Administration site. 

Once you’ve verified your items can be shipped abroad, it is time to look for a reliable customs broker who will be in charge of all the customs documentation and will help you to agree on the terms of sale with the customer. Additionally, you and your customs broker will look into the specifics of duties and taxes of your target destination. After collecting all the necessary information, you will get acquainted with different types of state documents like commercial invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, etc. 

When the customs documents are determined, you will fill them out and provide the details of the sender’s and receiver’s facilities: their names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. It is also critical to be precise in the description of the items’ measurements, quantity, and value. Once it is settled, you can get to packing your items and launching the shipping process. If you consider expanding to Canada, think about a seamless shipping platform.

GoShip offers a wide range of shipping services across the northern border. Regardless of your shipment’s size, we will effectively move your goods to and from Canada. With our advanced technology and resources, GoShip makes shipping to Canada smooth and easy. 

Types of international freight shipping

Choosing the type of international freight shipping is of primary importance as it identifies the flow of actions that need to be taken in terms of organization. Depending on the way you want to ship your goods, there are several main types of international shipping:

  1. Air freight transportation is a good option for delivering a cargo of a high density yet being limited in size so it can be easily located inside the plane. This transportation type is quite beneficial as it allows to deliver the goods in a short time and thus improves the overall productivity of the supply chain. Still, air freight transportation is higher in prices and might occur more complicated to arrange. 
  2. Ocean freight transportation is probably the most effective way to move large amounts of cargo or oversized items as the shipping is done in big containers loaded onto ocean freighters. However, ocean freight transportation can take much time, so it is better to keep the delivery deadlines in mind. 
  3. Ground freight transportation seems to be the most manageable in the organization as it involves well-known logistics operations, and is more accessible and cost-efficient. It works well especially for international shipments of moderate distances that don’t take too long to deliver. Ground freight transportation also includes moving goods by rail, which is quite applicable for delivering heavyweight items of a large size.

In terms of road freight transportation, there are two prevalent shipping modes:

  1. Full truckload shipping mode is typically chosen for moving big and heavy items, or large volumes of goods. If you have enough goods to fill in the entire trailer space and the weight of your cargo is up to 50,000 lbs, full truckload is a solution. Also, this shipping mode is aimed at delivering the items on time with making no extra stops during transportation. 
  2. Less than truckload shipping mode is a good choice for both small businesses and individual shippers whose cargo is not too big so there is no need to book the whole trailer’s space. Instead, in terms of LTL shipping mode, it can be shared between multiple shippers which prevents them from any extra expenses. 

What is a customs broker and why is it important?

Due to its large scale, international freight transportation is shaped by numerous regulations that change depending on a specific area. At the beginning of your international shipping experience, it is important to get the necessary guidance and organize the transit operations in a way that won’t break any official requirements. 

To do all the above, it is recommended to address custom brokers. Custom brokers are experts who manage the whole customs clearance process in terms of your freight shipment. These experts are represented by individuals, companies, or entities, and must be accredited by the US Custom and Border Protection organization.

The main task of customs brokerage is aligning the shipment with all the international regulations and preventing any risks that may occur when shipping overseas. Customs brokers function as the agents between you and your customer, thus allowing you to better focus on transportation sequence. Meanwhile, they delve into importing and exporting rules and lead official documentation.

If you are ready to learn international rules and manage the paperwork on your own, hiring a customs broker is not compulsory. However, to avoid any data entry mistakes or regulative contradictions, it is preferable to apply for professional customs clearance services. 

The choice of a customs broker mainly depends on the scale of your transit. In case you are planning a moderate international shipment or looking for a starting point for moving goods overseas, you may accept an offer of using a customs broker recommended by the freight shipping company you work with. On the other hand, larger shipments are usually supervised by companies like UPS or FedEx which provide their own customs brokers. 

Along with growing import and export volumes, the role of the customs brokers in international shipping has extended. Nowadays, they offer a wide range of services like business analytics, exploring new trade markets, developing product lines, etc. Also, customs brokers gradually digitalize their operations to streamline the communication with the customers and shippers. 

International shipping rates: how much is international shipping?

The shipping costs of international freight transportation are connected to a variety of factors. Some of them are common for both in-state and international freight transportation, the others are really important to count when planning the international delivery. 

To work out the approximate rates of international freight shipping, you primarily have to calculate the distance your cargo is supposed to cover. Shipping to remote areas may appear quite costly, but the final pricing equally depends on the expected delivery time. If you are not tied to strict deadlines, even shipping to distant international destinations can be cost-effective.

On the other hand, time-sensible shipments need thorough planning and thinking of all the peculiarities that may affect the duration. For example, crossing the border usually involves checking the transported cargo for safety purposes, and this can take some time according to the volume of your freight. 

No less important is the size and weight of the cargo. Most of the transportation types and modes are conditional on the volume of the items shipped. Thus, it is necessary to get all the required measurements before making any decisions on the transport means. Having all this data in mind, you’ll be able to see what type of international shipping suits you the best - ocean, air, or ground freight transportation.

For instance, it is convenient to ship oversized items by the ocean, while air freight transportation perfectly meets the strict deadlines requirements. Shipping regular cargo to Canada can be successfully done through international ground transportation. 

In the process of arranging your international shipping, you’ll have to pay close attention to gathering all the necessary customs documentation. Commonly, the shippers address the customs brokers who can help to organize the transit according to all the international regulations and restrictions. Apparently, customs broker services modify the shipment pricing, but you will only benefit from leading your documentation correctly and thus avoiding any fines or shipping interdictions. 

After all the primary criteria are reviewed, it is worth considering the question of seasonality. It can influence the cost of international freight shipping because of the certain periods which are quite specific in terms of transportation. First of all, it refers to shipping during the peak season, when the transit channels are overloaded and time frames of delivery get more strict than usual. If you’re going to move your freight in preparation for big holidays, count in the issues of traffic or possible delays. Still, proper planning can solve the frequent problems and prevent you from additional charges. 

In addition, try to evaluate various options of shipping packages. Following a reliable packaging method remains a serious aspect of international freight shipping as your items are supposed to travel longer compared to transportation within the US. The choice of packaging materials depends on the type of transported goods, and the price for packages will vary accordingly.

Modern international logistics suggest saving on the package by using sustainable materials and applying eco-friendly matters. Besides being biodegradable and safe for the environment, they are often cheaper than regular plastic packages. 

Due to its high complexity, international shipping processes often require to be handled with some additional services. For example, you may need to use lumper assistance when loading and unloading your cargo since these operations differ depending on the type of transport. Also, it is beneficial to obtain some information about warehousing spaces that might locate your goods in particular cases like transhipping.

Moreover, it is crucial to learn about various tracking options as cargo tracking will be definitely required by your customers. Applying tracking systems is one of the most profitable investments for shipping companies because it significantly enhances the customers’ experience and enables them to control the movement of the items.

With GoShip, the process of arranging your shipments is easy and logical. We have long-standing relationships with thousands of reliable, experienced carriers across the country. Our self-service website makes finding the carrier that’s right for you as simple as possible. We offer free quote comparison, online booking, tracking tools, and customizable solutions to meet your exact needs. Don’t hesitate to use our online Get a Quote tool to estimate the cost of your shipment. 

International shipping companies: key solutions for international shipping

When organizing international freight shipping, it is crucial to examine the options of international shipping companies. If you are preparing to ship to Canada, evaluating big transportation providers will come in handy. Currently, there are several most popular options for your international shipping.

  • USPS works well in those cases when you are not limited to strict delivery deadlines and your customer can wait a few extra days to receive the products while they are being sorted out at Canada Post and sent to the final destination. Due to all these procedures, USPS services are usually of moderate prices. 
  • UPS is probably one of the best choices for fast delivery to Canada as this transportation service bypasses the transfer through Canada Post thus saving much time. In addition, UPS provides the possibility of tracking the items’ movement on their way from point A to point B.
  • FedEx shipping service is aimed at avoiding any delays, so it can deliver your goods even faster than other international shipping companies. The operational processes of this organization differ by their increased efficiency, especially due to shipment tracking availability. However, it can result in higher costs and additional expenses in case your product exceeds the company’s weight limits.
  • DHL international shipping mostly suits ocean and air freight delivery. If you are planning to transport the cargo using these types of international shipping, you can consider DHL as a cost-effective and reliable company.

truckload freight in canada

Shipping to Canada 

Canada is the second-largest country in the world and is an important trade destination for many U.S. shippers. Since the United States and Canada are each other’s largest trading partners, small businesses often think of enhancing their shipping flow. Crossing the Canadian border is a perfect start to enter the global market. The majority of Canadian buyers actively shop at the US online marketplaces, which means there are plenty of opportunities for business development. 

To run a smooth shipment to or from Canada, it is worth evaluating certain aspects of international North American delivery. First, it is crucial to learn what documents you need to ship through Canada. The essential documents for both Canadian and U.S. shippers cover a commercial invoice and a bill of lading. There may be other required documents depending on the type of commodity used or special Canadian customs. Feel free to check out the full list of necessary paperwork here

Second, pay attention to the range of prohibited items. Canada has a list of products restricted from import and export, and some of them need special permits for commercial transportation. Please note that GoShip doesn’t provide shipping of any personal effects to Canada.  

Third, evaluate the transit time for shipments to Canada. Depending on the destination address and shipment type, the transit time may differ. The final shipping date is arranged with your carrier. Yet, it cannot be fully guaranteed due to the possible time shifts of customers, bad weather conditions, and other unpredictable circumstances.

How much does shipping to Canada cost?

The cost of your shipment will depend on many factors like type, weight, dimensions, lane, etc. Generally, the average costs for shipping to Canada consist of several components. For example, shipping certain products to Canada may be more expensive than the regular domestic shipping dues to the import taxes.

Like any country, Canada has custom taxes for imported goods. All taxes are based on the shipment’s type, declared value, and commodity type. Everything that exceeds CAD 20$ in value is subject to 5% duty. For some states, the duties may differ, and you can check them out by looking into Canada Custom Tariff lists.

Furthermore, it is advised to find out what are freight liability policies in Canada as they can also modify the shipment pricing. The carrier’s freight liability is limited by Canadian law regulations to CAD 2$ per pound unless there is no alternative agreement between the carrier and the shipper. Take these restrictions into consideration when calculating risks. If your shipment’s declared value exceeds the limit, it is reasonable to think about getting freight insurance. 

Finally, do not forget that all of the payments for shipments to/from Canada are held in USD. All the shippers will need to have a billable U.S. address to process the payment. 

How to ship freight to Canada? 

After getting familiar with all the frequent questions, it is easier to plan your shipment to Canada step by step. 

  • Describe your shipment, including accurate information about dimensions, weight, and freight type, and declare what exactly you are shipping.
  • Get your free estimate at GoShip and choose from the list of available carriers.
  • Fill in all of the required information about your shipment.
  • Process the required documentation with our licensed customs broker (if you don’t have one).
  • You’re all set! Stay tuned and track your shipment through GoShip. 

Shipping to the US islands

Some of the US states are located outside the continent and usually, the goods reach them by ocean freight transportation. Since the US islands are viewed as export territories, it causes the shippers to move their cargo according to the international transportation rules. For instance, shipping to Puerto Rico will require you to fill the standard bill of lading, a commercial invoice, and an Electronic Export Information form if the declared value of your cargo is more than $2, 500. To ship goods to Puerto Rico, you need to move them to the port of Fort Lauderdale where they will be picked up by ocean transport.

In the case of delivering goods to Hawaii, they first travel to the port of California. Interestingly, Hawaii shipments do not typically require any documentation besides a bill of lading. However, if you are going to move some hazardous materials, it is compulsory to prepare additional documentation. 


Whether you are an individual shipper or a small business, there are some things you should know about shipping to and from Canada.

What documents do I need to ship to/from Canada?

The essential documents for both Canadian and U.S. shippers cover a commercial invoice and bill of lading. There may be other required documents depending on the type of commodity used. For the complete list of necessary paperwork and documents, click here.

What are freight liability policies in Canada?

The carriers' freight liability is limited by Canadian law regulations to $2 CAD per pound unless there is no alternative agreement between the carrier and the shipper. Take these restrictions into consideration when calculating risks. If your shipment's declared value exceeds the limit, you should consider getting freight insurance.

How much does shipping to Canada cost?

The cost of your shipment will depend on many factors like freight type, weight, dimensions, lane, etc. For certain products, shipping to Canada may be more expensive than regular domestic shipping due to the import taxes.

What items are prohibited for transportation to Canada?

Canada has a list of restricted or prohibited items for import and export, and some of them require special permits for commercial transportation. Please note that our service does not provide shipping of any personal effects to Canada.

What are transit times for shipments from the U.S. to Canada?

Depending on the destination address and shipment type, the transit time may differ. The final shipping date is arranged with your carrier, however, it cannot be fully guaranteed due to the customer, weather conditions, and other unpredictable circumstances.

Is there a stated currency for international shipping payments?

Yes, all of the payments are held in USD. Shippers need to have a billable U.S. address in order to process a payment.

Why Use GoShip for shipping to Canada?

  • A robust network of freight carriers throughout North America
  • Easy comparison of rates and available vehicles
  • A completely online, user-friendly platform
  • Customs broker assistance
  • Assistance with customs documents
  • Help with customs invoice creation
  • Advanced tools for shipment visibility and tracking
  • Freight insurance available to all customers

With GoShip, the process of arranging your shipments is easy and convenient. We have long-standing relationships with thousands of reliable, experienced carriers across the country. Our self-service website makes finding the carrier that's right for you as simple as possible. We offer free quote comparisons, online booking, and tracking tools, and customizable solutions to meet your exact needs.

Logistics are more vital than ever for any retailer's success. With our experience, expertise, and extensive network of carriers, we can provide the capabilities you require to keep your promises to your customers. Get a free quote today!