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Canada Shipping

Canada Shipping:
Frequently Asked Questions

Let R+L Carriers help you move cross-border
shipments with ease.

Questions About Cross-border Shipping?

International shipping may seem confusing if you’re not familiar with the process. These frequently asked questions about cross-border shipping will help guide you.

What is a Customs Broker?

  • A customs broker clears goods through Canada customs on behalf of the importer. Working with a customs broker means you can leave the clearance of your goods in the hands of professionals who process and present shipping documents to customs. In most cases, the Canadian Consignee will be the importer, meaning they will choose and pay for the services of a customs broker.
  • Services provided by the freight carrier and a customs broker are completely separate transactions.
  • The carrier will bill for freight charges and the customs broker will bill for clearance services.
  • The customs broker can answer additional questions related to duties, taxes, permits, etc.

If my customer in Canada does not have a broker, am I required to hire one?

If the importer in Canada does not have a customs broker, the U.S. based shipper may consider becoming a Non-Resident Importer (NRI).

Benefits to becoming a Non-Resident Importer (NRI):

  • The U.S. shipper’s ability to quote a complete delivered price to the Canadian customer, inclusive of the cost of goods, cost of transportation, cost of brokerage, and related tax or duties.
  • A less complicated sales environment for your Canadian customer.

For assistance in locating a Canada customs broker, please contact the R+L Transborder Solutions Group.

Am I eligible for NAFTA?

As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), northbound shipments to Canada may qualify duty free. Contact your Customs Broker for eligibility.

Who is responsible for duty and taxes?

The importer of record (purchaser of the goods, generally the Consignee in Canada) is responsible for taxes or duty (if applicable). If the shipper in the U.S. is a Non-Resident Importer (NRI) then the shipper is responsible.

Where does my freight cross the Canada border?

Crossing between the U.S. and Canada is determined by origin and destination of the freight.

Canada Cross-border Shipping, Customs and Regulatory Terms

The freight shipping industry is full of terms and acronyms related to domestic and international transactions. Scroll down to discover more about cross-border shipping.

Border Crossing

Port of entry at the border with customs offices where freight crosses to and from the U.S. and Canada.

Broker

A company that works with the outside carrier providing the actual transportation of cargo, but also works with the importer to insure that all financial and legal obligations required by Customs are satisfied. Brokers do not assume responsibility for the cargo and generally do not take possession of the cargo.

Brokerage

A business whose main responsibility is to be an intermediary that puts buyers and sellers together in order to facilitate a transaction. Brokerage companies are typically compensated after the transaction has been successfully completed.

Certificate of Origin

A document that certifies the country where the product was made (i.e., its origin). A common export document, a Certificate of Origin is required when exporting to many foreign markets. It may be required in order to obtain preferential tariff treatment under several Free Trade Agreements.

Commercial Customs Invoice (CCI)

A document prepared by the exporter, or freight forwarder, and required by the foreign buyer, to prove ownership and arrange for payment to the exporter. This should clearly list all commodities, descriptions and value, along with basic information about the transaction; including description of goods, address of both the shipper and seller and the terms of delivery and payment. In some cases, the CCI is used to assess customs duties.

Consignee

The person or firm named in a freight contract to whom goods have been shipped or turned over for care. The Consignee is financially responsible for the receipt of a freight shipment and is usually the receiver of the shipment.

Consignor

The individual, company or entity that ships goods, or gives goods to another for care. The consignor is usually the exporter, or his agent

Country of Origin of Goods

Country of origin in which the goods have been produced, or manufactured.

Customs Brokerage

A profession that involves the "clearing" of goods through Customs for importers and exporters (usually businesses). This involves the preparation of documents and/or electronic submissions, the calculation and payment of taxes, duties and excises, and facilitating communication between government authorities and importers and exporters.

Customs Clearance

Documented permission to pass that a national Customs authority grants to imported goods so that they can enter the country or to exported goods so that they can leave the country. Custom clearance is typically given to a shipping agent to prove that all applicable Customs duties have been paid and the shipment has been approved.

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)

C-TPAT seeks to safeguard the world's vibrant trade industry from terrorists, maintaining the economic health of the U.S. and its neighbors. The partnership develops and adopts measures that add security but do not have a chilling effect on trade, a difficult balancing act.

Documentation

The papers pertaining to goods that require transportation and/or transfer of ownership.

Duty

Customs Duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders. The purpose of Customs Duty is to protect each country's economy, residents, jobs, environment, etc., by controlling the flow of goods, especially restrictive and prohibited goods, into and out of the country.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

The transfer of structured data, by agreed message standards, from one computer application to another by electronic means and with a minimum of human intervention. The electronic exchange of documents between businesses and organizations, or between businesses and government agencies

Embargo

An embargo is any event that prevents the freight from being accepted or handled. Most often, an embargo is due to international conflict or sanctions imposed on a particular country or group of people. Embargo events, however, may also include natural or manmade disasters such as floods, tornadoes, or congested highways.

Exceptions

When a problem such as shortage or damage is noted at the time of delivery, an exception is noted on the Bill of Lading (BOL), before it is signed in order to designate there was a problem with the shipment.

Export

A function of international trade whereby goods produced in one country are shipped to another country for future sale or trade. The sale of such goods adds to the producing nation's gross output. If used for trade, exports are exchanged for other products or services. Exports are one of the oldest forms of economic transfer, and occur on a large scale between nations that have fewer restrictions on trade, such as tariffs or subsidies

Export Broker

An individual or firm who does not take part in actual sales transactions, but brings together buyers and sellers for a fee.

Fast and Secure Trade (FAST)

U.S. Customs program that allows importers on the U.S./Canada border to obtain expedited release for qualifying commercial shipments

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

To prevent business practices that are anti-competitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; to enhance informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and to accomplish this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.

Import

A good brought into a jurisdiction, especially across a national border, from an external source. The purchaser of the exotic good is called an importer. An import in the receiving country is an export from the sending country. Importation and exportation are the defining financial transactions of international trade. In international trade, the importation and exportation of goods are limited by import quotas and mandates from the customs authority. The importing and exporting jurisdictions may impose a tariff (tax) on the goods. In addition, the importation and exportation of goods are subject to trade agreements between the importing and exporting jurisdictions.

Less-than-Truckload (LTL)

The transportation of relatively small freight. The alternatives to LTL carriers are parcel carriers or full truckload carriers.

Linehaul (LTL)

The direct movement of freight between two major ports by a single ship.

Non-Resident Importer (NRI)

This program is designed to benefit U.S. shippers by allowing them to sell goods cross-border to Canada on a landed cost basis, streamline the Customs clearance process, and reduce paperwork.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - Certificate of Origin

The NAFTA - Certificate of Origin is a document provided for goods that qualify for reduced or duty-free entry as a product of one of the 3 participating member nations - Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

A free trade agreement that comprises Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The objectives of the Agreement are to eliminate barriers to trade, promote conditions of fair competition, increase investment opportunities, provide protection for intellectual property rights and establish procedures for the resolution of disputes.

Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS)

Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS), is a clearance process which utilizes unique bar code labels.

Tariff

A duty (or tax) levied on goods transported from one customs area to another. Tariffs raise the price of imported goods, making them less competitive within the market of the importing country. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), most duties on goods qualifying as NAFTA-originating and services from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico have been eliminated.

Truckload, Full Truckload (TL)

A shipment of cargo that fills a given truck either by bulk or maximum weight.

For a full list of transportation terminology, visit R+L Carriers Freight Glossary.

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