Shipping into Canada

1. Before you Ship

Documentation is a critical part of trans border shipping; any error can result in costly delays at the border. Following documentations are needed to ensure safe and timely movement of cargo into Canada.


Shipper's Bill of Lading *

A properly completed shipper’s Bill of Lading should have following information:

  • Shipper’s name and address
  • Country of Origin
  • Consignee’s name
  • Destination full address
  • Shipper’s or Consignee’s order number
  • Shipment gross weight
  • Number of pieces in the consignment
  • Proper description of the product being shipped



Commercial Invoice *

If a shipment's value is less than $1,600 (Canadian) the only document needed is the Commercial Invoice. A copy should be attached to the bill of lading. If a shipment's value is over $1,600 (Canadian) the shipper must complete the Canada Customs Invoice. Three copies should be attached to the bill of lading, and copies sent by mail or fax to the consignee and/or the consignee's broker. (Note it is very important that the quantity/number of pieces and weight match exactly the information on the Bill of Lading)

* To simplify trans border documentation, Vitran provides a user-friendly fillable border pass form which includes both Bill of Lading and Commercial Invoice.


Export Declaration

The U.S. Shipper's Export Declaration (U.S. Form 7525V) is no longer required for shipments to Canada except under certain circumstances: Goods are in transit through, or being stored in Canada for ultimate re-export to another country. A U.S. Department of Commerce or U.S. State Department License is required to export from the U.S.A. The goods are subject to U.S. International Arms Traffic Regulations.


Exporter's Certificate of Origin

Under the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement), Duties or Taxes on certain goods made in the U.S.A. or Canada have been, or soon will be, reduced or eliminated. To benefit from this agreement, exporters/manufacturers must determine whether their goods qualify under the Rules of Origin. These agreed upon Rules of Origin define those goods and materials which are entitled to Free Trade Agreement benefits. The exporter must complete a U.S./Canada FTA Exporter's Certificate of Origin and send a copy of it to the importer. This is not a transportation document and is not required to accompany the shipment. However, to claim benefits under the FTA at the time of entry, the importer must possess the Exporter's Certificate of Origin. It must be available if requested by customs. Customs officials in both Canada and the U.S. will accept either country's certificates. But, if the certificate is not available, the FTA benefits will not be applied and the appropriate Most Favored Nation tariff will be applied. If you have any questions about the Free Trade Agreement or the use of the Certificate of Origin, contact your local Vitran service centre or your customs broker.


2. After you call for Pickup

  • Vitran driver picks up your shipments and takes it to our service centre
  • Shipments will be billed into Vitran system and you can start tracing the shipment
  • Customs Documents will be faxed to the designated Customs Broker for PARS clearance
  • We verify the Custom Brokers has filed an Entry with the Canada Custom before putting your shipment into our truck
  • We forward your original paperwork to cross the border with your shipment

3. When your shipment arrives at the border

  • Canada Customs will clear your shipment immediately through the Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS). If your shipment cannot be cleared at the border, it will move In-Bond from the border to a sufferance warehouse (in most cases it is Vitran service centre)


4. When your shipment arrives at Vitran Service Centre


Shipments cleared at the border receive prompt local delivery or are sent on in the Vitran network to the final destination

Shipments not cleared at the border (moving in-bond)

  • Goods will be reported to Canada Customs (CBSA) upon arrival
  • Goods will be reported via fax to the importer of record's broker for clearance
  • Goods will remain in the bonded facility until an electronic release confirmation (EDI) has been received from the CBSA's Release Notification System (RNS).
  • Shipments will be delivered to the final consignee once clearance confirmation has been received through the RNS systems.