Shipping Sweetwater music gear to Canada used to be a hassle, but not anymore. This post lays out a dead-simple process for getting your order from Sweetwater—or any other U.S. retailer—shipped right to your doorstep in Canada with zero trouble and minimal fees.
In 1979, Chuck Surack founded Sweetwater, the music gear retailer committed to making their customers happy. They sell guitars, drum sets and keyboards, but also DJ equipment, lighting, synthesizers, and a lot more.
Sweetwater’s renowned customer service are best captured through these two company policies:
- 55-point inspection: Before your guitar leaves Sweetwater, it undergoes an extensive 55-point inspection by their in-house experts. They make sure it’s safe, sound, and ready to play right out of the box.
- 2-year warranty: Your purchase is protected by Sweetwater’s Total Confidence Coverage, their free 2-year warranty, which is included with nearly every product they sell.
Does Sweetwater Ship to Canada?
No, Sweetwater does not ship to Canada, but I’ve designed a process for getting any Sweetwater order shipped to Canada with zero headaches. Here’s that process, explained step-by-step.
How To Get Sweetwater Orders Shipped To Canada
Since Sweetwater doesn’t ship to Canada directly, you need to use a package forwarder: a warehouse in the United States that will accept your Sweetwater package and forward it on to you in Canada. Here’s how to make it work.
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 music gear, 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 music gear 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 10 lbs of music gear in their warehouse for a month would only cost you $3.00!
Step 2: Ship Your Sweetwater 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 music gear you like on Sweetwater.com, 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 Sweetwater 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 Shipping Sweetwater Music Gear To Canada
I’ve used Planet Express a handful of times to ship Sweetwater gear to Canada, and the experience has always been very smooth. Here’s how things went the last time I did it.
First, I found what I wanted on Sweetwater.com. In this case, I needed a new Sennheiser microphone.
Second, I had my mic 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 it had arrived. This is partly due to Sweetwater’s extremely fast shipping, and partly due to Planet Express’ extremely fast processing. The other package forwarders I tested took 2-3 days to process incoming packages, so Planet Express is extremely quick on this.
Third, I filled in Planet Express’ super-easy customs declaration form with the four pieces of information required:
- The item being shipped: “Microphone”
- The number of items: “1”
- The value of the item: “$100”
- 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 mic was shipped out later that same day. When it arrived, I didn’t have to pay duties upon arrival, and the mic was in perfect shape.
In my experience, the price I paid ($6 USD + $2 USD in insurance) is pretty standard for shipping Sweetwater music gear to Canada with Planet Express. You also won’t need to pay any customs or duties on your imports thanks to the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal that came into effect on July 1, 2020, which allows Canadians to import up to $150 CAD worth of goods from the US or Mexico without paying any customs or duties. This is a huge jump up from the previous threshold ($20 CAD), and means you probably won’t have to pay any customs or duties on any of your small imports moving ahead.
If you’re ordering more expensive items, though, you can find the customs rate for importing musical instruments by searching this page on the government of Canada’s website.
Sweetwater + Honey = 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.
On top of working on Sweetwater.com, 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 offers 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 Sweetwater gear to Canada using Planet Express is extremely easy and smooth. The costs are low, and in my experience you’ll actually end up saving money, since Sweetwater’s prices can be much lower than those of Canadian retailers. If you’re shopping on Sweetwater.com, or any other retailer that only ships to the USA, I highly suggest making use of Planet Express.