International Shipping From Vancouver, Step-By-Step Guide

Whether you’re sending a package or parcel to the United States, Europe, Asia or somewhere else, you need a courier company that knows the rules and regulations of that country. It’s not similar to a domestic package that you just need to put some postage on and send it through the mail. Shipping internationally can be very overwhelming which is why you should rely on a professional courier company like Phantom Couriers to make sure your packages are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The most unpredictable part of international shipping costs are the customs duties and fees. These can change based on country, time of year, and sometimes even the customs officer handling your package.
Having helped thousands of people and businesses ship to countries all over the world, we’ve put together a helpful guide so you can understand the process better. 

Service Levels

The two main factors you need to figure out is what is your budget and how long do you want the package to take to get to its destination. Since there’s a variety of ways to ship from ground to air, the most important aspect is selecting the best fit for your needs.

To see Shipping Prices and Services click HERE

Forms Needed

It can be a challenge figuring out which forms you need to fill out. However, the three most commonly forms required for international shipping are:

Customs Declaration

All mail containing merchandise must have a Customs Declaration form completed when sending the item to the U.S.A. or an international destination. The Customs Declaration forms are part of the Canada Post shipping label and also include the addresses and names of both the sender and the recipient.

It is the senders responsibility to ensure that all customs documentation and item content information and certificates for the goods being shipped are provided and are complete, accurate and legible. Failure to do so may result in the item being returned to sender, or could result in delays, non-delivery, voided guarantee, if applicable, fines or customs seizure in the international destination.

You’ll need to provide the following information for all shipments:
Contents Type:
• merchandise
• sample
• gift
**Please note it is illegal to mark an item as “gift” when it’s not. Some customers may ask you to do that to avoid import taxes, but you’ll be the one liable if it’s discovered.

Commercial Invoice

This is for any merchandise purchased or sent to an international country. Three copies of an commercial invoice is needed to be placed inside a clear pouch on the package. It needs to be removable and visible, so that the customs officer can review the information if needed. The commercial invoice is required for taxation and fee assessment. It’s typically a separate document from the label.

Certificates of Origin

Some countries require a certificate of origin for your shipment to pass through customs. It is a document issued by a sender that confirms where the package originally came from. These certificates of origins usually need to be signed by an official organization. A certificate of origin may be required even if you’ve included the country of origin information on the invoice. 

Other Forms You May Need

Export Documentation Form (B13A)

An Export Declaration Form B13A is required for the following goods when shipped to another country, excluding the United States:
• All goods (including gifts, donations and repairs) valued at $2,000 CAD or more
• All goods that are controlled, prohibited or regulated regardless of value.
An Export Declaration B13A should not be confused with the Customs Declaration form (see above)

Customs, Restrictions, And Duty

One of the benefits of working with a private carrier like Phantom Couriers is that they are a registered customs broker who will manage all questions from the import country authority on your behalf.

Common Abbreviations

Couriers have a wide range of abbreviations that you might find confusing. Here is a short list of some of the more common ones.
• Incoterm: A set of rules that defines whether the seller or buyer pays for duty, taxes and other fees. These rules are defined by the International Chamber of Commerce.
• DDU (Delivery Duties Unpaid by Sender) means the recipient is responsible for any duty.
• DDP (Delivery Duties Paid by Sender) means the shipper will be covering the costs of duty.
• Customs Items – brief description of the item being shipped, along with weight, quantity, value and country of origin.

Tariff Code (Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System) is an international recognized system to classify globally traded goods.

Tariff Codes are required on all official shipping documents for tax assessment and for better standardization. It is a six-digit number broken down into different sections and subsections. Providing a tariff number can be useful to smooth out the customs process (though you don’t need to have one). 

Insurance

You should consider purchasing insurance for your international shipments, especially if you are selling a fragile or luxury item. A generally rule is if the shipped item is worth more than a $100 then you should purchase additional insurance. There are a lot more handling and transitional points across various countries, where your package can be damaged, lost or stolen so it’s best to be on the safe side. Even if you have a tracking number, accidents do happen so why not cover yourself? Through Phantom Couriers you can purchase insurance easily in the first step of the label process. 

Export Permits And Other Documentation

Export permits are required for certain controlled items and the government is responsible for issuing permits for this type of product.

Examples of this type of product would be:
•Nuclear reactors
•Weapon technology
•Vehicles
•Agricultural and Food Products

If in doubt as to whether an item requires an export permit, contact the appropriate government department.

For a complete list of products on the Export Control List, please refer to http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-89-202/FullText.html to determine if an export permit is required.

Certain products may also require a permit or other documentation in order to be imported into the country of destination. 

Dangerous And Prohibited Products

If you’re considering shipping products that are considered dangerous like firearms, explosives, or weapons, there are some additional rules and regulations surrounding shipping requirement’s. Generally dangerous products are prohibited from being mailed whether being sent domestically or to another country, although there are some exceptions.

Please refer to Section 7 Dangerous Goods of Non-mailable Matter of the Canadian Government website for a complete list of dangerous products. http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/tdg/clear-tofc-211.htm

Valuable Items

Valuable items should always be sent with express shipping and with a tracking number. You can also request that the recipient must sign for the package. There are many different rules and regulations in different countries surrounding valuable items so do your research before sending valuable items.

Valuable items may include:
•bank or currency notes
•coins
•traveller’s cheques
•securities
•platinum, gold or silver
•jewels and precious stones

Currency And Monetary Instruments

All Canadian or foreign currency and monetary instruments ($10,000 CAD or more) entering or exiting Canada through the mail must be reported to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). These monetary instruments include:
- securities
- stocks
- bonds
- treasury bills
- bank drafts
- cheques
- travellers’ cheques
- money orders

Foreign currency and monetary instruments with a value of $10,000CAD or more mailed out of the country must include form E667 (Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report-General).

The customer must submit a copy of form E667 to the Canada Border Services Agency office, at the same time as or in advance of mailing the item.

Commercially-Prepared Food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires Prior Notice of all shipments to the U.S.A. that contain commercially-prepared food. This includes items that contain food for human or animal consumption, vitamins, dietary supplements, herbal remedies and food additives.

The FDA and U.S. Customs Border and Protection will use their own discretion and may consider not taking any regulatory action when there is a Prior Notice violation and the commercially-prepared food is being sent from one individual to another individual for non-commercial purposes. Customers are cautioned to ship these types of items at their own risk.

The EU has very strict laws surrounding importing commercially-prepared food so do your research if you intend to send food to European countries.

Alcohol, Tobacco And Related-Tobacco Products

The mailing of alcohol or intoxicating beverages into the United States is prohibited and when discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be seized. The USPS will no longer accept packages with cigarettes; roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco in any quantity. Non-mailable cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are subject to seizure and forfeiture, and senders of non-mailable cigarettes or smokeless tobacco are subject to criminal penalties.

Cannabis And Cannabis-Related Products

Canadians can ship a maximum of 30 grams of dried, recreational cannabis to other adults (age varies by province). If shipping over 30 grams, you must be a licenced distributor of cannabis. An individual cannot ship cannabis internationally.

Shipping requirements across Canada:
• Odour-proof, leak-proof inner, tamper-proof of the inner and outer packaging
• Nondescript outer packaging without any writing, icon or advertising that indicates what’s in the package

Prescription Drugs To The United States

Senders and recipients must be aware it is completely at the discretion of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whether or not to allow entry of drugs into the United States.

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