Must-Have Documents for Shipping to Canada

shipping to Canada

So, you're a US manufacturer or retailer thinking of shipping to Canada, eh? You're not alone!

Every year, shippers from the United States send nearly $350 billion worth of freight into Canada. Likewise, Canadian companies are sending nearly the same amount of freight annually to the US.

To make all of this back and forth a bit easier, our two countries share a few similar international shipping requirements. Unlike many other countries, the process of shipping to Canada is actually rather relaxed.

However, there are 5 important documents you must complete before sending anything across the Canadian border...


The Bill of Lading (BOL) 

Whether you're shipping from your warehouse in Los Angeles to across the street, or shipping to China, the BOL is a must-have document for any freight movement.

Essentially, the Bill of Lading includes three items that must be documented for freight to be delivered from one point to another.  

The first item is the shipper’s information. This includes the company name, point of contact, shipping address, and contact phone number and/or email.

The second item noted on a bill of lading is the consignee information. This is where the freight is being delivered to, so it's important to note, especially for shipments into Canada, where the recipient is located. For Canadian addresses, this includes the Providence, city, postal code, and physical address. The final information required is a description of the freight being shipped.  

You’ll need 3 copies of the BOL. One for the shipper, driver, and consignee. But it’s a good idea to have a few extra copies of all paperwork sent with the shipment.  


Proof of Delivery (POD) 

The next item on our list of must-have documents for Canadian cross border shipping is the POD form.

Basically, this is just a signature from the recipient that indicates that the goods have been received. Most of the time, the proof of delivery will be signed on the bill of lading. Other shippers require a specific form or electronic signature for proof of delivery. 


The Commercial Invoice (CI) 

If you have ever shipped a package via FedEx or UPS to an international destination, you're probably familiar with the commercial invoice. We also simply refer to this as the CI in the industry. This is your standard, 'run-of-the-mill' invoice.

The CI is basically just an invoice that provides a detailed description and value of all the items you are shipping to Canada. Where many shippers get into trouble is when they start to devalue the declared goods in order to save money on tariffs and other applicable fees. While we understand that the constant rising fees in the shipping industry is a headache at times, there are better ways to handle it. When you cut corners on the Commercial Invoice or any of the documents in this list, you risk delays, loss of revenue, and potentially, the inability to ship freight across the border easily.

What happens when you devalue your goods is that the purchaser on the other side of the border cannot get it through customs. The CI also determines customs duties and helps calculate tariffs. If those can't be determined, your goods "do not pass go." (In our best Rich Uncle Moneybags voice). Obviously, this creates a gigantic mess that you and the purchaser must figure out amongst yourselves.


Canadian Customs Invoice (CCI)

The Canadian customs invoice can be received or obtained from the carrier that you are using for your transportation. 

There are a few criteria that your goods must meet in order for the CCI to be mandatory. For starters, it must be a commercial shipment type and valued at over $2,500 (CAD). For most commercial shipments worth sending across the border, this number is easy to surpass. Secondly, the goods must be able to be subjected to sales tax and other duties. And lastly, it does not apply to goods that fall under the HTUSA Chapter 9810.

Overall, they are not difficult to figure out. It really all boils down to showing proof of identity for the exporter, the importer, and vendor.


Shipper's Export Declaration(SED) / Electronic Export Information (EEI) 

There is one final form required for freight moving across the Canadian border. The Shipper's Export Declaration (SED).

The SED originally functioned as a required form for all U.S. exported goods valued at $2,500 (USD) or higher. Replaced by the Electronic Export Information form (EEI) within recent years, the Census Bureau no longer accepts SED forms at all.

If the value of the goods exported exceeds the valuation we mentioned, then an EEI filing is mandatory. This EEI form is used by the Census Bureau to analyze, compare and alter trade regulations. These alterations are based on statistical data from these forms.


Need to do Some Shipping to Canada?

Here at Redwood Logistics, we strive to stay on top of new regulations for our clients. We have the knowledge and experience to ensure that we maintain 100% compliant with international shipping regulations. Furthermore, our global network of peers and partners enables us to get your goods across the Canadian border with relative ease.

If you are a shipper, manufacturer, or retailer that is looking to ship products into Canada, reach out to Redwood Logistics for support.