Shipping from China to Canada: Customs, Cost, Transit Time and More [2024]

Trade, the exchange of goods and services over long distances, and commercial activities, the exchange of products and services at specific markets, are core components of the economy.

While Canada is rich in natural resources, such as minerals, timber, and oil, it still depends on imported goods and services to meet the demands of its population and industries.

Are you looking for freight options for your cargo delivery to Canada? Are you looking for better supply chain management to save cost and time on transportation?

shipping to Canada from China

Sea shipments, air shipments or express courier shipments, we can offer all forwarding services to satisfy different logistics requirements. We advise you on shipping costs and transit times, vessel and aircraft schedules. We are your reliable and dependable business partner when imports from China.

Canada Imports Licenses/Permits

Before importing commercial goods into Canada, as a business or an individual, you will need to obtain a Business Number (BN) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for an import/export account. This import/export account is free of charge and can usually be obtained in a matter of minutes.

Some products are subject to the requirements of other government departments and agencies and may require permits, certificates, and/or inspection. The CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) is responsible for administering the legislated import requirements on behalf of other government departments.

CBSA’s eManifest requires carriers, freight forwarders, and importers in all modes of transportation to transmit cargo, conveyance, house bill/supplementary cargo, and importer data electronically to CBSA prior to loading in the marine mode and prior to arrival in the air mode from China.

Canada Customs Entry

All merchandise imported for commercial use are subject to customs duty and goods and services tax (GST), unless they are exempt or free of duties. No matter where you purchased the goods and in what currency, the value of the goods must be converted in to Canadian dollars to determine the duties payable.

You should gather as much information as possible about the goods you intend to import. Obtain descriptive literature, product composition information and, whenever possible, product samples. This information will be crucial when it comes time to determine the tariff classification of the goods you wish to import. The tariff clarification number will be used to determine the rate of duty that will be applied to your goods.

Canada’s de minimis threshold is C$40 for taxes and C$150 for duties. De minimis refers to the maximum threshold below which no duty or tax is charged on imported items.

Classify your goods

Most trading countries, including Canada, the United States, China and India, use the Harmonized System (HS) as the basis of their classifications systems.

The first six digits are a common identifier across all countries using the HS for that particular good, including China and Canada. The following four are unique to Canada and used to establish the duty rates and for statistical purposes.


Tariff Classification Number4819.50.00.90
Heading (International)4819
Sub-heading (International)4819.50
Tariff item (Canadian)4819.50.00
Statistical suffix (Canadian)4819.50.00.90

Determine the Rate of Duty

Once you have determined the correct tariff classification number, you can view the Canadian Customs Tariff Schedule. Then you will notice the column of “Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) Tariff” on the right side.

That is the duty rate for imports from China. The duty rate of the example 4819.50.00 is free.

Canada duty rate example

Customs GST 5%

The goods and services tax (GST) 5% is payable on most goods at the time of importation.

Calculate Customs fees

The following is an example of a calculation of customs duty and tax on imported goods with a value for currency conversion of US$1000. The example exchange rate is US$1 = CAN$1.2. The goods are subject to 4% customs duty and 5% GST:

  1. Value for customs: US$1000 x 1.2 = CAN$1200
  2. Customs duty: $1200 x 4% = $48
  3. Value for tax: $1200 + $48 = $1248
  4. Customs tax: $1248 x 5% = $62.4

Total of customs fees (in Canadian dollars) are $48 + $62.4 = $110.4

Canadian Border Services Agency has a policy of keeping a profile on all importers. Importers with a good profile – that is, who consistently provide accurate documentation – will be rewarded with less border scrutiny and are able to take advantage of special release options. On the other hand, those with a poor profile will face fines and penalties and will not be able to benefit from participation in some programs.

You must keep all records pertaining to your importations for six years following the importation of good(s) in either electronic or paper format. This includes information relating to the quantities received, price paid, the country of origin, vendor, product, and all other related information.

Sea Freight to Canada

China Canada Sea Freight

Sea freight can be a cost-effective and reliable option for shipping goods to and from Canada. Importers that ship by sea can choose between full container loads (FCL) for larger shipments or less-than-container loads (LCL) for smaller shipments.

Top Container Ports

Canada’s largest port is Port of Vancouver BC.

Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia, the port extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet. Geographically, the port is about the same size as the next five largest Canadian ports combined. Home to 29 major terminals and more than 1,000 tenants, the port is the most diversified cargo-handling port in North America.

The Port of Vancouver, connects Canada with approximately 140 to 170 countries annually and handles $1 of every $3 of Canada’s trade in goods outside of North America.

Other major ports in Canada:

  • Port of Montreal: the largest port in Eastern Canada
  • Port of Prince Rupert: the closest North American West Coast port to Asia
  • Port of Halifax: the only port in Eastern Canada that can accommodate ultra-class container vessels
  • Port of Quebec: the quickest path between Europe and the Great Lakes
  • Port of Toronto: the largest freshwater ports

Sea Freight Transit Time

The transit time depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Departure and arrival ports
  • Shipping route
  • Weather conditions
  • Port congestion
  • Shipping carrier
  • Border crossing delays

For example, shipping from Shanghai China to Prince Rupert by sea is about 15 days, while 20 days to Vancouver. In general, ocean freight transportation time can take between 20 days to 40 days.

Sea Freight Cost

If you are shipping at a high volume, you’ll save time and money by shipping FCL. Pricing for FCL is done as a flat rate, regardless of whether or not your container is completely full.

LCL, or less than a container load, means your goods do not fill an entire container, and will be shipped along with other boxes or pallets. Note that when you ship LCL, your goods will need to be consolidated at the origin port and deconsolidated at the destination port. That’s why LCL shipping takes a few days longer than FCL.

You can keep down sea rates by doing:

  • Book in advance.
    Shipping by sea is the cheapest, but also takes the longest. Booking in advance when you can saves you money– and cuts out the stress if delays arise.
  • Ship off-peak.
    When carriers get busy, both shipping prices and transit times go up. Ship during off-peak seasons whenever you can.
  • Get the latest quotes from different providers.
    Quotes can vary, so check out offers from different providers before making a decision.
  • Understand what’s included in your quote.
    Is your quote port to port or door to door? What service does it include? Know what you’re paying for to avoid getting hit with surprise fees.

Air Freight to Canada

Canada is thoroughly integrated into the global economy, meaning it ships to and from other countries frequently. Air freight is the most dependable way to keep this trade flowing.

Top Airports

IATA CodeAirport NameCity
YYZLester B. Pearson International AirportToronto
YULMontreal / Pierre Elliott Trudeau International AirportMontreal
YVRVancouver International AirportVancouver
YEGEdmonton International AirportEdmonton
YYCCalgary International AirportCalgary
YHZHalifax / Stanfield International AirportHalifax
YOWOttawa Macdonald-Cartier International AirportOttawa
YQBQuebec Jean Lesage International AirportQuebec
YWGWinnipeg / James Armstrong Richardson International AirportWinnipeg

Air Freight Transit Time

Air freight shipments to Canada are generally much faster than other modes of transportation. The exact shipping time to Canada varies based on factors including the distance between the departure and arrival airports, the specific air routes, and any potential layovers or connections.

Air freight can arrive in days and the economic air can be received within 10 days.

Air Freight Cost

There are a variety of fees and charges for the various aspects of transport, including ground handling services, customs, security screening, import/export charges, etc.

The fees that apply depend on your shipping requirements. For personalized service and to discuss the options and pricing for your shipping needs, contact us directly.

Courier Services for China-Canada

For very small shipments, usually less than one cubic meter and 200 kilograms, importers and exporters often ship express. Express air shipping to Canada is typically handled by companies such as DHL, UPS, or FedEx.

All international mail or courier coming into Canada is subject to customs fees, if the item worth more than CAN$20. If worth CAN$20 or less, there is no duty or tax payable.

Transportation by express couriers is more easier than by airlines. The express can handle delivery to your step door, while you don’t have to worry about customs issue and paper works.

Top Express Companies

  • DHL
  • FedEx
  • UPS
  • USPS
  • Purolator
  • Canpar Express
  • Canada Post

Depending on the different company, additional shipping fees may include:

  • Tracking
  • Insurance
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Remote delivery charge
  • Signature fee
  • Overweight or oversized fee
  • Special handling fee
  • Dangerous goods fee

We can get a big discount 50%-80% from the official public express rates.

Find more about how to select the most cost-effective courier.

What CFC can do for you?

The requirements of international trade gave rise to the development of specialized and intermediary firms providing transport services. These firms do not physically transport the goods.

Still, they must facilitate the grouping, storage, and handling of freight and the complex paperwork and financial and legal transactions involved in international trade. Examples include freight forwarders, customs brokers, warehousing, insurance agents, and financial institutions.

A growing proportion of global trade is now being organized by multinational corporations offering door-to-door logistics services, which is third-party logistics providers, which is CFC here.

Tell us what you need to move and where it needs to go, and we’ll coordinate the rest, including customs clearance, tracking, and optimizing routes to provide cost savings and on-time delivery.

We are always trying to succeed in meeting the cargo transportation needs to Canada, and we possess the capability of responding to all your cargo forwarding requirements regardless of shipment types.

Get a quote now and let’s get started!

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My machine arrived in good order and I am happy with CFC's shipping arrangements. I received quotes from other forwarding companies but they kept changing the amounts. Your quote was exact and there were no hidden charges. I would be happy to recommend CFC to other importers of goods from China.

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