Exploring the Basics of Shipping Freight to Canada

Shipping Freight to Canada

The relationship between the United States and Canada has been a cordial one for several decades. The two countries partner on defense, retail, manufacturing, and other governmental operations. Citizens of both countries even find it easier to travel between the two than any other international destination. 

This also means that moving freight across the Canadian border is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Moving freight into Canada may be a relatively easy task, but there are some things you should know beforehand. Understanding a few of the fundamental basics of shipping to Canada will help you reduce errors, delays, and improve delivery speeds. 

So without further ado, let's dive in...


A few Facts About Shipping Freight to Canada

On average, trade between the United States and Canada equates to almost $720 billion every year. Imports and exports between the two countries are about equal.

However, when it comes to shipping products across the border, northbound routes are three times busier than those coming southward. The truth is, U.S.-based companies ship a higher volume of freight into Canada. Essentially, this means that shipping freight to Canada will take longer than receiving it from Canada.

While both countries are leading in exports to each other, Canada sends larger raw materials such as steel and aluminum to the U.S. On the flipside, the U.S. sends smaller food commodities.

As a result, U.S. retailers and manufacturers will allocate more truck loads than their Canadian counterparts.  


Paperwork Required for Moving Freight into Canada

Just like shipping into Mexico, moving freight from the United States into Canada involves filling out plenty of paperwork!

Of course, all this paperwork serves a purpose. Its purpose is to ensure a smooth and safe cross-border experience.

Canadian shipments require the following documents:


  • A Bill of Lading 
  • Shippers Export Declaration 
  • The Canadian Customs Invoice or a Commercial Invoice 
  • A Cargo Control or Manifest Document 


One item that will likely change sooner or later is the need to fill out a NAFTA exemption form, as the United States – Canada – Mexico trade agreement will change NAFTA regulations. We expect to see this new trade agreement to be ratified before the end of 2019. 


What is the Cross-Border Paperwork Process Between Canada and the US?

Having the right documents filled out prior to shipping improves shipping speed and expedites the customs process.

In many cases, a U.S.-based company will work with a 3PL or freight broker to handle all paperwork and forwarding to the appropriate agencies. 

Common freight delay causes include: 


  • When the freight invoices, customs manifest, and other documents are not filled out correctly by the broker, the delivery driver of the freight movement will be delayed at the border crossing.  
  • If freight documentation is not forwarded electronically to the appropriate agencies or individuals, delays in shipment can also occur. 
  • All freight movements into Canada must have duplicate copies assigned to the driver and notated on the freight. 


Final Thoughts

Working with a professional 3PL to handle your Canadian cross-border shipments can significantly reduce mistakes, freight delays, and possible customer complaints. Freight delays doubly impact the quality and safety of food shipments. It is for this reason that many U.S.-based manufacturers and retailers trust a professional 3PL to handle their international shipments.

If you have any questions about cross-border shipping solutions or services, contact the professionals at Redwood Logistics today!