Buying from U.S. online retailers can be a pain if you live in Canada, but it doesn’t have to be. This post lays out a dead-simple process for getting any item from any U.S. retailer shipped to your doorstep in Canada with zero trouble and minimal fees.
If you’ve ever shopped on USA retailer websites, you’ve probably seen some version of this message upon checkout:
“We cannot ship your order to Canada.”
This is frustrating to say the least, and you might think that there’s no way around it.
But I recently developed a process for getting any item from any U.S. retailer shipped to you in Canada with zero headaches.
Here’s that process explained step-by-step.
How To Get Any Online Order Shipped From The USA To Canada
Since the website you want to buy from doesn’t ship to Canada directly, you need to use a package forwarder: a warehouse in the United States that will accept your order and forward it on to you in Canada. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Choose A Package Forwarder
Choosing the right package forwarder is a big deal, because that decision will determine how quickly you get your order, and how much you have to pay for the service. I spent many hours doing some deep research on eight different package forwarders, scoring each of them on a wide variety of relevant metrics. Here are five of the main metrics I looked at:
- Service Fees: How much do they charge to provide their core service of accepting and shipping packages, plus ancillary services such as long-term storage, re-packing, package consolidation, and more.
- Monthly/Annual Fees: How much do they charge in monthly or annual fees, if at all.
- Pricing Transparency: How much do I know about their pricing structure before sending a product to their warehouse.
- Speed: How quickly will they process my package.
- Customer Service: How satisfied are other users with their service, and how thoroughly/quickly do they respond to my questions.
After reviewing the data I collected on these and other metrics, it became clear to me that Planet Express was the best choice. Their customer service team responded to my emails quickly and thoroughly, they have thousands of 5-star reviews online, and their fees were consistently lower than all of the other package forwarders I looked at.
Here are a few other things I like about Planet Express:
- Planet Express has a tax-free warehouse in Oregon, so you can avoid paying sales tax on your orders.
- Planet Express will consolidate multiple packages into a single box, saving you a significant amount on shipping when you make multiple purchases.
- Planet Express sends you free photos of your package as soon as it arrives at their warehouse.
- Planet Express offers extremely cheap storage for your packages. Every package receives 10 days of free storage, but after that, Planet Express only charges one cent per pound per day. That means storing 1 lb of clothes—something like a jacket and a pair of jeans—in their warehouse for a month would only cost you $0.30!
Step 2: Ship Your Order To Planet Express
As soon as you’ve signed up for Planet Express, you’ll receive a unique mailing address at their warehouse. Once you find the clothes you want to buy, just enter your Planet Express mailing address instead of your home mailing address and you’re all set.
Step 3: Forward Your Package
As soon as your order arrives at Planet Express’ warehouse, they’ll send you photos of the package to let you know it’s arrived. You’ll also be given a series of shipping options to choose from. I find that there’s generally at least 4 shipping options corresponding to 4 different price-speed combinations. Sometimes there can be as many as 10 or more shipping options—it just depends on the weight and size of your package.
My Personal Experience Using Planet Express
I’ve used Planet Express dozens of times to ship items from various stores to Canada, and the experience has always been very smooth. Here’s how things went the last time I did it.
First, I chose the items I wanted on the retailer’s website. I’ll use my recent order of some Nike Free Flyknit 3.0s from Zappos.com as an example.
Second, I had my shoes shipped to my unique address at the tax-free Planet Express warehouse in Oregon. Less than 24 hours later, I received an email from Planet Express letting me know that the order had arrived. This remarkable speed is partly due to Zappos’ extremely fast shipping, and partly due to Planet Express’ extremely fast processing. Some of the other package forwarders I tested took 2-3 days just to process my incoming packages, so this is very quick.
Third, I filled in Planet Express’ super-easy customs declaration form with the four pieces of information required:
- The item being shipped: “Shoes”
- The number of items: “1”
- The value of the item: “$50”
- Whether the item contains batteries: “No”
Then I chose the shipping option I wanted from a list of eight. Prices ranged from $6-$35 USD, plus insurance at an additional $2 USD, so I chose the cheapest one ($8 USD, including the insurance), and I was done. My order was shipped out later that same day. When the shoes arrived, I didn’t have to pay duties upon arrival, and they were in perfect shape.
In my experience, the price I paid ($6 USD + $2 USD in insurance) is pretty standard for shipping products to Canada. Of course, the exact shipping price will depend on the size and weight of what you buy, but if you aren’t purchasing anything too heavy (eg. a new desktop computer), you’ll see similar prices.
Even more importantly, I’ve never had to pay any import taxes or duties on my orders. If you place a large order, you may have to, but this has just been my experience.
Bonus: Use Honey For Greater Savings
Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds you coupon codes for thousands of online stores. It crowdsources coupon codes from users and the Internet at large to offer you the best deals every time you shop online. Honey is completely passive and completely free—just install the Honey plugin, and whenever you reach the checkout page of a store Honey has codes for, it will automatically apply every code in its database to find you the best deal.
Honey has discount codes for over 5,000 online stores, including marketplaces like eBay and Etsy, big-box stores like Best Buy, Walmart and Target, online titans like GoDaddy, Microsoft, Udemy and Adobe, and even the odd discount on Amazon. You won’t find a working code every time you try, but I can’t count how many times I’ve saved 10% or more thanks to Honey.
Sign up for Honey (free!) using this link and you’ll receive an extra 500 Honey Gold (worth $5) after your first purchase using a Honey discount code.
Overall, shipping items from U.S. online retailers to Canada using Planet Express is extremely easy and smooth. The costs are low, and my experience has been nothing but positive.
If you’re buying from a U.S. retailer that only ships to the USA, I highly suggest making use of Planet Express.