How to ship a package from Canada to the USA?

How to ship a package from Canada to the USA?

The USA is Canada’s biggest trading partner, so there is no shortage of carriers to assist shipping a package from anywhere in Canada.

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by Paul Bourque

Feb 02, 2024

Key Points

  • Prohibited and restricted items, packing, and choosing a carrier are essential steps for shipping to the USA.
  • Proper packaging is crucial to protect items during transit, especially for breakables or fragile goods.
  • Secureship simplifies the process of choosing a carrier and completing necessary paperwork for shipping.
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How to ship a package from Canada to the USA.

The USA is Canada’s biggest trading partner, so there is no shortage of carriers to assist shipping a package from anywhere in Canada. But as close as the USA is to Canada, it is nevertheless a foreign country, and therefore shipping to the USA is a more involved process than sending a parcel from St. John’s to Victoria.

In this article, we will explain a number of factors concerning shipping from Canada to the USA – restricted and prohibited goods; packing the parcel for a secure arrival; choosing a carrier; required paperwork and expected importation duties. But fret not, Secureship – a Canadian shipping broker – can help with all of those time consuming details and lower your shipping costs.

Table of Contents

  • Prohibited and Restricted Goods
  • Packing
  • Which Carrier to Choose
  • Paperwork and Duties
  • Conclusion

Prohibited and Restricted Goods

Like all countries, the USA prohibits certain goods from entering its territory. Some of the key items that cannot be shipped there include: marijuana and its derivatives; drug paraphernalia; certain foods; soil, plants, and seeds; switchblades; and goods from a US embargoed or sanctioned country. Failure to abide by these and other items (check US customs for a comprehensive list) could result in fines or prosecution.

On the other hand, restricted goods are allowed into the USA but may be limited to quantities or require approval from a government agency. Restricted goods include: alcohol and tobacco products; medications; foodstuffs; firearms; and ammunition. However, rules and regulations can and do change frequently, so please check with government sources for up-to-date information.


Once you have ensured that your shipment is legal to enter the USA, it is time to pack the goods. Even though the parcel’s journey may be relatively short and quick, it could be a bumpy ride – parcels could be jostled, dropped, or crushed under a heavy stack of other boxes. Therefore, resist the urge to reuse a box, which may have lost half of its rated strength by the end of its first tour of duty.

Next comes the packing. Particularly if the items are breakable, wrap them individually with bubble wrap or packing peanuts. Keep each item at least 5 centimetres apart and at least that far away from all six sides of the box. This is especially important if you have taken out insurance. If the contents do follow ISTA 3A packaging standards, the insurance may be voided.

Which Carrier to Choose

There are a host of carriers that handle parcels bound for the USA from Canada – Canada Post, Purolator, FedEx, UPS, just to name a few. Selecting one, however, can be a confusing and time consuming decision. And that is Secureship’s job: saving you or your business time and money when you ship a package from Canada to the USA.

Carriers typically offer a couple of choices that are a compromise between cost and arrival time. Simply put, the sooner the parcel arrives in the recipient’s hands, the more you pay. By using Secureship’s intuitive online tool, you can peruse a handful of options within minutes, and certainly find the one that suits your budget and required timelines.

Paperwork and Duties

Documentation and importation fees are two inescapable and important aspects of international shipping.


All foreign-bound shipments require a Commercial Invoice (CI), and without it or if incomplete, the parcel cannot enter the country.

The CI describes the contents and their values, which allows customs officials to assess the correct duties and taxes. Once again, Secureship will guide you through completing this document simply and efficiently. We will also ensure that the equally important Air Waybill has all the necessary information – sender’s and recipient’s name, address, telephone numbers – so the carrier can get the parcel to its destination in the promised time.


While import duties are paid by the recipient, shippers should be aware of what goods incur duties and how much they are.

Because of the United States Mexico Canada free trade agreement, many goods enter the USA either duty-free or with a reduced duty rate. And most shipments valued at under $800 USD will not incur any duty (the exception is alcoholic beverages and tobacco products).


Though Canada and the USA exchange thousands of goods each day, there are certain goods that cannot cross the border (prohibited) and others only if they abide by quantity restrictions or obtain official permission (restricted).

Packing the goods against damage or breakage is also an important step in the shipping process. Breakables need to be wrapped well in bubble wrap or with packing peanuts. As to who will courier your parcel, we recommend using Secureship, whose bulk buying power can save you up to 50% on your costs. As well, we provide answers to 5,000-plus shipping questions that you may have and a collection of importation rules and regulations for 140-plus territories and countries.

About Secureship

About Secureship

Secureship® offers an online service that helps businesses and organizations ship more efficiently and affordably.

Providing instant price shopping across multiple carriers, Secureship is the best choice for reduced rate shipping. In addition, Secureship offers benefits such as a consolidated shipping system regardless of the carrier you choose, built-in address book, convenient invoicing and shipment management.

Visit our shipping estimate tool to see how much you can reduce your shipping expenses.