Shipping Internationally: A How-to-Guide for Canadian Business Solutions

By Amylee Silva
May 26, 2023
International Shipping Icons on Green Boxes

The secret to succeeding in business is reaching your customers where they are. For any business to succeed internationally, you’ll need to ship internationally. Shipping packages internationally is simple yet time-consuming. 

The process involves tariffs, customs clearance, regulations, and much paperwork. It can be challenging for first-timers, and you may need a reliable shipping company to help. 

Fortunately, many shipping companies offer international shipping to and from Canada. It is upon you to determine what suits your needs.

When selecting the best shipping company, consider shipping rates, delivery speed, insurance coverage, shipping restrictions, tracking, and weekend delivery.

Read through to learn more.

Top International Shipping Companies


DHL is best at small parcel express delivery around the globe. They have road, rail, ocean, and air freights to reach all areas. They also do remote deliveries. The only downside is that they do not ship live animals.


FedEx is best for shipping delicate and fragile international shipments. They have overnight and 2-day international fast deliveries at cost-effective rates. They also offer LTL shipping (economy and priority options). In addition, they offer weekend deliveries on Saturdays.

R+L Carriers

R+L Carriers are best for high-risk and high-value international shipping. They are the ideal option for shipping items that require temperature control. R+L Carriers have expedited shipping services, ensuring merchandise reaches their destinations on time. The only downside is that they do not offer small parcel delivery services.


UPS is best at shipping live domesticated animals. They also ship hazardous items internationally. Deliveries between US and Canada may take one or two business days for USP Express and UPS Expedited. However, deliveries may take up to five business days for services like UPS Standard or UPS Ground.

International Shipping Process

Follow the steps below when shipping internationally.

  1. Sign up to your preferred shipping company’s website and add your shipping information.
  2. Cross-check for restrictions. Ensure your items are not listed as prohibited.
  3. Request for an instant quote. You may need to compare rates for different couriers.
  4. Print the shipping label and stick them on your package.
  5. Organize package pickup and start shipping.
  6. Track your package until it reaches the final destination.
  7. Get an invoice for all your shipping charges.

How to Choose the Best International Shipping Company

Consider the following factors when choosing the best international shipping company:

Shipping Rates

Shipping costs add up to your business expenses. And the cost increases if you ship with a courier charging extra high shipping rates. Before choosing your shipping services, go through the international rates of different options and choose the company with discounted shipping rates. However, you should consider other factors too. Ensure there is a balance between shipping rates and service quality.

Delivery Speed

If you need your merchandise delivered urgently, consider a shipping company with an expedited shipping service. The courier you choose should be able to handle mission-critical deliveries, typically through expedited air freight or overnight shipping.

However, if your shipment is less time-sensitive, you can consider a company with standard shipping services. LTL and ocean shipping services are ideal options here.

Remember that fast shipping services come at an additional fee. Therefore, you should expect to pay more for your shipment. 

If you’re on a budget, opt for cheap international shipping companies, which compromise on delivery speed.


Unlike domestic shipping, international shipping has more risks. There are more contact centres, and the chances of your items getting damaged are high. Also, your items might get lost. 

That means that you are exposed to complete losses if your items are damaged or lost. However, if you insure your merchandise, you’ll be compensated. The rates depend on the type of insurance you take.

Luckily, many international shipping companies offer insurance. You can opt for this insurance or a favourable third-party insurance.

Shipping Restrictions

All major shipping companies have shipping restrictions. For instance, some companies do not handle hazardous materials, while some do. Besides dangerous materials, there are restrictions for size and weight.

So, before shipping anything internationally, you need to check with your shipping company to get clarity on the imposed restrictions beforehand.

Tracking Service Availability

International shipping takes several days. Customers may be impatient sometimes or curious to know what is happening to their items in transit. So, when selecting the best international shipping services, consider one with a reliable package tracking service.

Customer Service

Customer service is the backbone of any business entity. Quality and reliable customer service enhance customer satisfaction and retention. The same applies to international shipping. 

The quality of customer service for the shipping company you choose affects you and your customers. So you need to take this into consideration when selecting one.

Weekend Delivery

Most international shipping companies operate only during business days—from Monday to Friday. On weekends, all deliveries are suspended. 

However, if your buyer needs items delivered on the weekend, you must confirm if your international courier does weekend deliveries. This way, your customers can get their merchandise on Saturday or Sunday, instead of waiting till Monday.

Remote Area Delivery

Some remote areas furthest from major cities and towns are inaccessible. Some buyers may need items delivered to these inaccessible areas when shipping internationally. 

You’ll notice that some shipping companies shy from delivering to such areas. So, it is equally important to determine beforehand if your international courier will deliver to remote areas.

Some international couriers have worked around the issue and partnered with third-party couriers for remote deliveries. If your international shipping company operates this way, you must pre-determine how this option will affect the quality of service and customer satisfaction.

International Shipping Times 

Not all international shipping takes more days—some take as few as one or two business days. What determines the shipping time for your international shipment is the type of service you choose and how far you ship your package. 

For neighbouring countries like Canada and the US, your package can be delivered within one business day. However, you’ll need sufficient shipping time for long-haul destinations.

Duties, Taxes, and Fees

International shipping incurs more charges in the form of duties, fees, and taxes. Duties are the fees the customs charge for all imported items. These fees vary depending on the gross weight or value of the items.

On the other hand, fees are the charges the custom broker or agent imposes for the services they offer. They also include charges and taxes which customs authorities collect on behalf of different federal agencies.

Note that you must pay all duties and fees for your international shipping.

International Shipping Tips

Consider the following tips when shipping internationally.

  • Attach all customs documents to the exterior of your package.
  • Give more attention to packaging to avoid additional charges.
  • Give the recipient’s details to the courier for efficient communication.
  • Check for restrictions on the items you’re shipping.
  • Refrain from shipping prohibited items.

Find a reputable shipping company to help you with customs documentation if you need help. You also need to be keen on restrictions to ensure your shipment is accepted. 

You can also expect delays in clearance at customs. The cause for these delays usually are inaccurate or incomplete information on documentation, missing required documents, and additional documentation.

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