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International Shipping to Canada

Updated: March 30th, 2023

Planning your physical move to Canada? If yes, you're in the right place. International shipping to Canada can include shipping your household belongings or a few specific things like sporting equipment or a painting. While you can purchase extra checked baggage for clothes and smaller items, consider your international shipping options for bigger and bulkier items and know what to expect at customs.

Before You Move to Canada

It is important to draw up a duplicated list of all the goods you plan to send to Canada as part of your personal belongings. You will have to state each item's value, brand, model, and serial number (where applicable).

Your list should be split into two parts - items you will take with you and items that will be shipped. The items that arrive after entering Canada will only qualify for duty- and tax-free importation if they appear on your initial list.

The forms you would use for doing this would be Form BSF186, Personal Effects Accounting Document, and Form BSF186A, Personal Effects Accounting Document.

Customs Fees

Just like with any other country, all international shipments to Canada must be cleared by customs. That means you must declare what goods (make, model, and serial number, where applicable) are included in your shipment and the value of the items you're shipping to Canada.

Canadian authorities will then calculate how much tax and duty needs to be applied to your goods. Most goods above $20 will be subjected to tax and duty. The Goods and Service Tax (GST) is set at five percent, which is automatically applied to any import valued at more than $20 CAD. On top of that, if you're planning to move to British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, or Saskatchewan, then you will have to pay a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) too.

Note: Most international shipping companies provide you with the appropriate customs declaration to complete, print, sign, and attach to your shipment ahead of time.

What Can and Can't I Ship to Canada That will be Considered Duty and Tax-free?

Items You Can Import: Duty - And Tax-Free

To import goods duty- and tax-free when you're moving to Canada to live for one year or more, you must have owned, possessed, and used the goods abroad before arriving in Canada.

What you can include in your duty and tax-free entitlement:

  • clothing and linen;
  • furniture;
  • appliances;
  • furnishings;
  • silverware;
  • jewellery;
  • antiques;
  • family heirlooms;
  • private collections of coins, stamps, and art;
  • personal computers;
  • books;
  • musical instruments;
  • personal computers;
  • hobby tools and other hobby items;
  • personal vehicles;
  • hobby tools and other hobby items;
  • pleasure boats and the trailers to carry them (trailers are subject to Transport Canada requirements);
  • mobile trailers, no more than 2.6 meters (9 feet) wide, that the owner is capable of moving on their own;
  • utility trailers;
  • motor homes;
  • private aircraft; and
  • tool sheds or garages that do not attach to or form part of a dwelling.

NOTE: Vehicles brought in for personal use are duty-free. But there are limitations. You will have to ensure they align with Canadian safety and pollution control standards.

Goods Subject Import Duties

  • Equipment for farming
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco products
  • Equipment that will be used use in contracting, construction, or manufacturing
  • Business Vehicle
  • Gifted items that cost more than $60

What Types of International Shipment to Canada Can I Use?

When you move your possession to Canada, you would typically use either Sea Freight or Air Freight services.

Sea Freight

Container shipping is generally the most affordable method of shipping your belongings overseas. You will save significantly when you opt for sea freight over air freight - but the waiting time is much longer. It can easily take two to three months before your belongings arrive in Canada. You should enquire if your belongings will arrive at your door or if you need to arrange transport from the port.

Air Freight

Air freight is a much faster method of shipping your belongings but is typically priced by weight and volume and is more costly. It's not always guaranteed that your belongings will arrive at your door. This is something that depends on your shipping company and the services they offer.

Is it Expensive to Ship to Canada?

When it comes to international shipping to Canada, there are two major costs to take into consideration. The custom import fee and the international shipping company service fee. My Baggage, for example, offers a 30kg weight allowance per item for around $259 to Canada. However, how much you will pay to ship your items to Canada differs from company to company, the type of shipping options you choose, and the amount and/or weight of your items. You can use Sirelo to get free non-obligatory quotes from up to five qualified removal companies.

International Shipping Companies to Canada

5 Popular International Shipping Companies
Company More Details
1. My Baggage My Baggage ships luggage, boxes and sports equipment around the world, and delivers it to your door.
2. Seven Seas Worldwide Seven Seas Worldwide can send excess baggage or personal belongings to Canada in containers via sea freights.
3. Ship Lilly Ship Lilly can send excess baggage or personal belongings to Canada via sea or air freights.
4. FedEx You can send smaller items in boxes of up to 25kg to Canada via air freight.
5. DHL You can send smaller items in boxes of up to 25kg to Canada via air freight.

What Can't I Ship to Canada?

Some items are prohibited while the government of Canada controls others. For controlled items, you may need an import permit to ship the items and/or consumer goods such as food and plants. You may also need to get an import permit for your pet. Other items are strictly prohibited from entering Canada such as baby walkers and used mattresses.

Claiming Your Shipped Belongings in Canada

You'll receive a notification from your carrier when your items arrive in Canada. You must then go to a customs depot to give them your stamped BSF186A form. The customs official will compare your copy with the one on their system. If it matches, your goods will be released without duties and taxes due. In the event of irregularities, you may be asked to pay duties or taxes.

You will then have to make arrangements for your goods to be transported to your residence or handle moving your belongings yourself.

Got All the Boxes Ticked For Your Move to Canada?

Now that you know more about shipping your belongings to Canada, you can plan your move to the T. If you're still in the process of getting your Canadian journey going, and need help, contact our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants. They're standing by to make your path to the Great White North as smooth as possible.


What Happens if My Belongings Arrive in Canada Before I do?

You should plan for your goods to get to Canada by the time you get there. If things don't work out this way, they will be kept in storage for 40 days. If you do not claim them in this period, they will be seen as unclaimed.

I'm Not Sure Which Items I Have to Pay Duties on. What do I do?

If this is the case, bring your receipts and documents when you come to Canada.

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