When deciding how your import-export business’s supply chain will function, it’s helpful to get an idea of the costs and challenges tied to different shipping locations. You might find an affordable supplier you love in one country, only to realize shipping fees are impossibly high in that region.
This breakdown of shipping by continent will help you weigh all of the necessary information you need to make the best decisions for your business moving forward.
Don’t miss our guide on how to start an import-export business.
Shipping from Asia to Canada or the US
Working with a supplier in Asia is one of the most common choices for Canadian and American businesses. Since shipping logistics vary by country, we’ll focus on a few of the most popular Asian countries for importing goods into Canada or the US.
When importing from China to Canada or the US, there are three different options you can choose: sea freight, air freight, and air courier.
- Sea freight is the cheapest and slowest option. It takes 15-40 days including customs clearance and costs less than $1 (USD) per kg. Sea freight works best for large shipments because it’s priced based on volume rather than weight.
- Airfreight typically takes 3-10 days including customs clearance and can cost about $5-$7 (USD) per kg. Air courier is the fastest and most expensive option.
- Air courier services take 2-5 days and can cost at least $10 (USD) per kg. Therefore, air courier is best for small shipments that are time-sensitive.
Check out our deep dive into importing from China to Canada here.
If you’re looking to ship from Japan to Canada or the US, your best options for large shipments are probably FedEx or UPS Japan. In case you didn’t know, Japan is part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). That means certain shipments from Japan to Canada are eligible for preferential tariff treatment. Other Asian countries in the CPTPP are Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Shipping from Europe to Canada or the US
Europe is a desirable supplier location for Canadian small businesses due to the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The CETA eliminates customs duties on almost all imports from the EU to Canada. Taxes such as the GST/HST will still need to be paid on imports.
For American businesses, it’s a little more difficult to import products from the EU. This is because the US does not currently have a free trade agreement with the EU. It’s possible that this may change in the future, which would give an advantage to American companies.
The best shipping methods from Europe to Canada or the US are probably DHL and FedEx. You can also check with Maersk to see if one of their routes is more convenient for your shipment.
Shipping from Oceania to Canada or the US
It’s possible to send goods from Australia or New Zealand to Canada or the US by air or by sea. If you choose to ship by air, you’ll usually get your items within three days, but you’ll have to pay a premium fee. Shipping by sea can take six to nine weeks, but you’ll save money on shipping fees.
Both Australia and New Zealand are part of the CPTPP, which might allow you some preferential tariff treatment depending on what you choose to ship. You’ll still be required to pay Canadian GST/HST on your shipment. The US also has a free trade agreement with Australia.
Shipping from US to Canada
Due to its close proximity to Canada, there are almost unlimited choices for shipping from the USA. You can select Canada Post, USPS, FedEx, UPS, or another shipping company. Keep in mind you’ll need to pay Canadian GST or HST on your goods, even if you’re exempt from other customs fees due to the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
For a comparison of different shipping companies, check out How to Ship from USA to Canada.
Shipping from Latin America to Canada or the US
If you’re shipping from Mexico to Canada or the US, you can choose between Mexican Post, FedEx, and UPS. Depending on your shipment, you may be eligible for duty-free shipping due to CPTPP or CUSMA. Shipping times can vary from a few hours to three days or more.
Importing goods from countries in Central America or South America involves shipping by ocean, air, or ground. It can take as long as 10-20 days by sea or just 1-3 days by air, depending on the country and Canadian port of arrival. The most popular countries to import from are Colombia, Chile, Peru, Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica, all of which have free trade agreements with Canada.
If you’re shipping from Central America or South America to the US, keep in mind that the US has free trade agreements with Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.
Shipping from Africa to Canada or the US
When it comes to finding a supplier for your import-export business, most people don’t think of Africa as the place to look. That could change imminently, as projections indicate manufacturing and industrialization on the continent will rise over the next 10 years.
Your best bet to ship from Africa to Canada or the US is using an international courier like FedEx, UPS, or Maersk. Shipping times from Africa to Canada or the US are approximately 1-5 days by air or 22-30 days by sea, depending on the country and port of arrival. If you keep a close eye on Africa, you could be one of the first businesses to take advantage of this future hotspot for manufacturing.
Are you searching for an expert to handle all the shipping details when importing to Canada or the US? Look no further. BorderBuddy is the best customs broker you could ask for. We’ll take care of the shipping so you can focus on growing your business. Give us a call today!