Did you know that missing or incomplete paperwork, along with improper tariff classifications, are the reason for most shipment delays at the border?
To avoid that headache and the risk of losing customers, it’s important to make sure you have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s when you are exporting to Canada.
“Customs clearance” or “clearing customs” is a phrase we hear a lot in our business. What that really means is the item that’s being imported or exported has met a country’s requirements for entering or leaving its borders. Those requirements vary from country to country and from one item to another.
This article covers:
- What documentation is required for exporting to Canada
- The benefits of becoming a Non-Resident Importer if you live outside of Canada
There are four documents that you must include with every shipment when exporting goods into Canada:
- Canada Customs Invoice, or a Commercial Invoice
- Bill of Lading
- Manifest or Cargo Control Document
- Shipper’s Export Declaration/Electronic Export Information (EEI)
This is a breakdown of each of those documents:
Canada Customs Invoice (or Commercial Invoice)
According to the Cross-Border Institute, the importer uses the CCI to pay the seller for the goods, and the exporter uses the CCI to collect payment from the buyer.
You Need 2 Copies of the Canadian Customs Invoice
- One is attached to the shipment at customs
- The other is attached to the bill of lading
Can you use a standard Commercial Invoice?
You can use a Commercial Invoice in place of a CCI as long as you include the following information:
- The exporter’s full name, address and country
- The importer’s full name and address
- A detailed description of the goods in the shipment
- The net and gross weights of the shipment
- The unit price of each item (using the currency of settlement)
- Currency used for payment of the goods
- The agreed-upon terms of delivery and payment
- The date the goods went in transit
- Reference numbers (purchaser’s order number)
- Import license (if applicable)
- Freight charges/insurance
- The country of manufacture
Bill of Lading
What is a bill of lading? According to UPS, The consignor’s (a.k.a. shipper’s) receipt of goods shipped, the Bill of Lading, or BOL, is a legal document that authorizes the carrier to execute the movement of goods on the consignor’s behalf. It acts as a receipt and shipping label for LTL freight shipments and has all the details of what you’re shipping, the origin, and the destination.
Who provides a BOL?
The shipper fills it out, or generates one online, prints it, and provides it to the freight shipper.
If you are using FedEx, you can generate a FedEx shipping label and BOL online. You can print it and hand it to the pickup driver.
Manifest or Cargo Control Document
The Cargo Control Document (CCD) lists everything in your shipment including:
- Brokers transaction number
- Shipping address
- Delivery address
- Custom’s clearance locations
- Weight of shipment
One copy of the CCD is used to report your shipment to the CBSA and another copy will be sent to your confirming the arrival of your imported goods.
Cargo Control Document (CCD) and the Cargo Control Number (CCN)
Each CCD is associated with a unique barcoded cargo control number. The CCN is made up of the carrier’s 4-digit carrier code along with a unique shipment number.
This allows the CBSA to both identify the carrier of your goods and the actual goods upon initial reporting and final clearance.
Shipper’s Export Declaration/Electronic Export Information form (EEI)
A U.S. Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) was a standard United States government form required for all U.S. exports with commodities valued at $2,500 (USD) or higher. It has been replaced with the Electronic Export Information form (EEI).
If a single commodity’s value within a U.S. export shipment exceeds $2,500.00 (USD), then an EEI must be filed with the U.S. Census Bureau. The EEI is used by the U.S. Census Bureau to compile trade statistics and exert export controls.
And those are the documents! As far as classifying products, HS codes (or the Harmonized System) is an international naming structure for the classification of products. It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System (HS) for classifying goods is a six-digit code system.
You can look up an HS code for shipments into Canada on the Canada Border Services Agency’s webpage for Customs Tariff.
Importing or shipping a vehicle to Canada / USA?
When it comes to importing a vehicle to or from Canada or the US, we recommend that you start by checking our Learning Center. Here you’ll find up-to-date information and instructions on how to get started and what kind of specifications and paperwork you’ll need. To import a vehicle into Canada from the U.S., there’s a 6 step process that we outline in this helpful infographic as well as The 5 Things You Need to do to Import a Car from The US to Canada.
How do I calculate shipping to the US/Canada?
Calculating your shipping costs to or from Canada will depend on what you are shipping. First things first though, do you have a carrier? All major small parcel carriers like DHL, FedEx, and UPS will give you international options through their normal shipping label creation process. You can find the cost of shipping in this process. Alternatively, we can give you a customized shipping recommendation.
Becoming a Non-Resident Importer
If you are a US exporter to Canada, you may want to become an NRI (Non-Resident Importer) to create a more seamless importing process. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) developed the Non-Resident Importer concept specifically to help U.S. exporters gain access to Canadian markets. An NRI is both the exporter from the United States and the importer of record into Canada, so in essence, it’s like doing business without borders.
Our recent blog post goes into more detail, so you can learn about all the ins and outs of becoming an NRI here.
When it comes to properly handling documentation, some people would rather leave it to the professionals, and we have to say, that is probably a wise move! Having imported over half a million items to date, BorderBuddy is the best customs broker you could ask for. We’re here to help you with all of your customs documentation.
If you’re wondering how CUSMA affects your business, check out our blog post here.
For any other import-export questions, visit our FAQs page here.