Shipping from China to Canada – Costs, Process, Permits and More

by Tim Howard

Are you planning on shipping from China to Canada? If yes, then there are a few things you should know before you begin your journey. 

Shipping goods from China to Canada is one of the easiest ways to save money and turn a profit, but only if done the right way with all your import documentation in place. 

This article will guide you through everything there is to know about shipping from China to Canada in 2022 and I will include a couple of tips to follow so you are able to find the right seller/vendor in China.

Shipping from China to Canada

Step 1 — Acquire the relevant certificates and licenses


When shipping from China to Canada, there are a number of things you have to follow so your goods reach you in a timely manner. The below mentioned steps are important and have been laid out by the Canadian government for all imports into Canada.

Documents required for shipping from China to Canada

Here’s a checklist of the documents needed when importing goods into Canada.

  • Commercial or Customs invoice
  • List of contents
  • Bill of lading
  • Arrival notice
  • Customs bond
  • Manifest or CCD
  • Shipper’s export declaration
  • Import permit certificates

Get a business number from the CRA

When importing anything from abroad, the first and most important thing you need to do is register with the CRA or the Canada Revenue Agency and obtain a business number. 

Note that, any legitimate business that imports goods from China into Canada will have a business number and this will help you in case of any issue or mishap that may arise during the shipping process.

Apply for the import permit and certificates

Before you can legally ship goods from China to Canada, you need to apply for an import permit as well as keep the Canadian government informed about what type of goods are being brought in. Apart from the import permit, you must also apply for the import inspection in Canada. 

This is where the officials will cross-check their database and see whether the goods you’re planning on shipping into Canada are of a set standard and can be legally brought into the country. Now that you have cleared the inspection you can go ahead and apply for the permit and receive the final certificates from the authorities.

Determine the customs duties and taxes

It’s now time to determine just what category your goods fall under and which tax slab you have to pay to import your goods. It’s good to estimate in advance just how much you’re going to pay on import duties and taxes so you can have a clear understanding of how expensive it’s going to be to ship goods from China into Canada.

You will have to consider goods and service tax, sales tax, provincial sales tax, excise tax and excise duty depending on the classification of goods you’re shipping into Canada. One great place to check what tariff treatment applies to your goods is the Government of Canada web portal. Here you can check the Canadian Customs tariff schedule and find the most appropriate tariff treatment for your goods.

Step 2 — Decide on your mode of shipping

There are only two ways you can ship goods from China into Canada, via Air and the Sea. Air freight and Ocean freight each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s break down what they both mean and which one of the two is best suited for you.

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Air Freight from China to Canada

Air freight is one of the easiest modes of shipping from China to Canada and probably the fastest mode. However, it is rather expensive and if you’re looking to save money while shipping from China to Canada, then Air freight is not the logical choice.

Ocean freight from China to Canada

There are two modes of ocean freight transportation when shipping from China into Canada, LCL or less than carrier load and FCL or full container load.

  • LCL (Less than container load) – You will choose LCL ocean shipping when you don’t have a full container loaded with goods. It’s a great way to save on shipping costs and you get to share the container with different businesses that are shipping from China to Canada.
  • FCL (Full container load) – FCL is a mode of ocean shipping where you pay for an entire container and have only your goods shipped in that particular container as opposed to sharing it like in LCL shipments.FCL is a cost-effective way to ship from China to Canada only if you have a full container of goods and it’s at its maximum load.

Alternate modes of shipping from China to Canada

If you don’t have a large consignment to ship then you can resort to using one of the smaller shipping methods available. This is ideal for those looking to ship small packages like samples and individual items as you will pay only for the weight and dimensions of the product.

  • Regular Post – When shipping from China, China Mail and EMS are two affordable options when shipping small quantities of goods. The only drawback is that you will have to wait for a longer period of time for your shipment to arrive.
  • Express shipping – Slightly more expensive than regular post, express shipping involves third-party carriers like DHL, FedEx and UPS. Here you will be charged a small premium to have your goods delivered to you in a timely manner. However, in order to get the best prices from express shipping carriers, you will have to register with the shipper and avail their benefits.

Step 3 — Determine the Shipping Costs

Depending on the mode of shipping you selected, the costs would vary. For example, standard air freight is much more economical than ocean freight and is much faster. But there are different factors that determine the shipping costs.

Let’s take a look at what factors are taken into account when calculating the cost of a shipment.

  • The type of item being shipped
  • The weight of the goods in your shipment
  • The volume and dimensions of the goods
  • Type of shipping method selected
  • Mode of delivery selected such as dood-to-door, port-to-door or port-to-port

Air shipping costs from China to Canada

When you have your consignment shipped via Air freight, the shipping charges are based on the overall weight of the shipment. Air cargo is calculated based on the total number of kg being shipped. It’s also good to know that the heavier the consignment is, the less you pay for shipping.

Shipment WeightAir Freight Rate
45kg Low$9.55
100kg Low$8.54
200kg Low$8.54
300kg Low$8.29

When shipping via Air freight, port-to-port shipments would be calculated for an average load of 200kg/1 cbm.

Ocean shipping costs from China to Canada

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OCean freight is much cheaper than air freight but you would have to wait for around 15-30 days for your shipment to reach its destination. Shipping via the sea route is favoured when the overall volume of your consignment is too high to be economical via air freight.

When shipping from China via ocean freight, the amount you pay will depend on the type of container hold you selected. It’s cheaper to ship a smaller quality of goods via the LCL method over FCL. 

Take a look at the rough estimates for LCL and FCL shipping modes.

FCL From and ToFCL Rate
Shanghai – Vancouver (Low)$5,086
Shanghai – Montreal (Low)$6,098
Ningbo – Vancouver (Low)$5,086
Ningbo – Montreal (Low)$6,098
Shenzhen – Vancouver (High)$5,652
Shenzhen – Toronto (High)$7,473
LCL From and ToLCL Rate
Shanghai – Vancouver (Low)$150.72
Shanghai – Montreal (Low)$194.68
Ningbo – Vancouver (Low)$182.12
Ningbo – Montreal (Low)$226.08
Shenzhen – Vancouver (High)$150.72
Shenzhen – Toronto (High)$188.40

Step 4 — Purchase Shipping Insurance

Different shipping carriers provide different insurance slabs on consignments depending on the way they are being shipped and what the contents of the shipment are. Generally when you pick the best shipping carrier for your needs, they will inform you if you have to pick up insurance for your shipment or not. 

Ideally, it’s best to have your shipment insured regardless of the value since the package will travel halfway around the world and will be loaded and unloaded numerous times which can result in damages to your shipment. 

The only problem with purchasing insurance is that not every item on your manifest will be insurable. For example, personal items such as TV’s, perishable goods, artwork, and liquids won’t be insured. Another reason why insurance won’t be applied on your consignment is if you have not met the ista-3a packaging standards.

Step 5 — Choose the right vendor to deal with

Choosing the right vendor to source products from China will be a task but there are some easy ways around this. Since you are going to import goods into Canada, you will need to ensure that the products are made from high-quality materials and that the supplier should be a reliable source with a decent customer satisfaction rating.

Here are some of the types of vendors you can choose from when shipping from China to Canada.

  • B2B Marketplaces – Alibaba is one of the best places to source products from China for your business in Canada. You will be able to choose from a large collection of sellers and wholesalers here and to ensure that you have the best quality products at the best prices, get in touch with a factory supplier instead of a store.
  • Chinese sourcing agents – It’s a good idea to get a sourcing agent based out of China as they will be able to not only check the quality of your products before they’re shipped but they also have good relationships with factories and suppliers which makes it easier for you to get products from China.
  • Use a good search engine – These days it’s easier to get in touch with suppliers directly by reaching out to them through online means. Simply typing out relevant keywords such as Chinese wholesale dealers for any particular category and you will have access to hundreds of such sellers that are based out of China.

How long does it take to ship goods from China to Canada?

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The duration it takes to ship goods from China to Canada depends on the carrier selected and the type of shipping method you opted for. 

  • Regular Post – Shipping via surface mail or China Post will take around 1-2 weeks for your consignment to arrive. If you wish for your package to arrive earlier than 2 weeks, ensure that all your documentation and import/export paperwork is in place.
  • Express Shipping – Express shipping is the fastest of the lot and would take roughly 3-5 working days to be delivered. This form of shipping is expensive and there are different tiers of shipping charges with regards to express shipping such as overnight express or expedited express.
  • Air Freight – Air freight takes around a week to arrive depending on the weight and type of goods being shipped. Generally air freight is meant to be the fastest mode, but it also has one of the most complicated shipping processes out there and this takes more time to complete.
  • Sea freight – Shipping your goods via the sea route can take anywhere from 24-45 days to arrive. It’s by far the slowest shipping method out there but also one of the most economical if you have the right shipping parameters.

Tips on how to minimize costs when shipping from China to Canada

  • If you’re planning on using the sea freight option to ship goods from China to Canada, make sure you book your shipment in advance as this is one of the slowest shipping modes and will ultimately save you some money.
  • Avoid peak seasons when shipping goods because this is normally when shipping companies increase the cost of shipping and the overall transit time will also greatly increase.
  • Keep all your documents in hand and make sure you don’t have any hassle while clearing customs. This will minimize the chances of incurring a customs penalty.
  • Always double check the shipping costs of different carriers so you are aware of the price differences and you ultimately choose the best offer.
  • Understanding the inclusions and exclusions of your shipping fees is important because it will help you determine whether the shipment will be delivered to your doorstep or port.

FAQ’s of shipping from China to Canada

What is the fastest way to ship from China to Canada?

The fastest way to get your wholesale order delivered is by using air freight as your mode of shipping. It is a little more expensive than sea or ground shipping, but it’s the only one apart from Express shipping that gets your goods delivered on time.

Must I pay an import tax when shipping from China to Canada?

Yes, every country has import taxes and duties that you’re liable to pay when importing products into the country in bulk. You  have to pay the dues at the time of import, but you can claim them through your standard tax returns.

What does Canada import mostly from China?

There is a wide range of products that Canada imports from China. While electronics and computer peripherals are the most popular kinds of imports, they also depend on China for clothing, apparel, make up, toys and sporting goods.

Also Read:

Alibaba shipping costs from China to US and Europe

Costs & Methods of Shipping from China to USA

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