There are several options available to expats who want to ship their belongings to Canada. You can hire the services of a professional moving and relocation company, combine the services of a professional moving and relocation company with your own time and efforts, or chose to do it yourself.
Shipping times to Canada vary according to departure destination and shipping method, and can be as little as 2 weeks and up to several months.
In some cases, you may be able to negotiate costs with some shipping companies.
Note that shipping goods as excessive baggage on your flight is sometimes the fastest and cheapest option.
Electricity in Canada is 100 volts, therefore domestic appliances from many other countries (e.g. UK) will not work in Canada and should not be shipped.
Choosing a Move Date
If possible, chose a move date in the spring, summer or autumn. Moving in Canada in the winter can be difficult due to bad winter weather and driving conditions.
If you must move to Canada in the winter because of your visa or work, make sure you have accommodation organized before you arrive and that your or your moving or relocation company has reliable transportation arranged for your goods.
Moving and Relocation Services
Most moving and relocation companies offer a variety of services to assist you in this sometimes-stressful process, such as:
- Packing Service
- Full Packing Service (all of your goods, packaged in boxes and crates)
- Part Packing Service (fragile or large items only)
- Dedicated shipping containers
- Half or part load shipping containers
- Crate building for artwork and fragile items
- Shipping cars, motorbikes, and boats
- Arranging transport for pets
- Packing Inventories
- Assistance with customs Clearance
Our service pages will give you a list of international movers for Canada and you will be able to contact them by sending a simple form to request a quote.
To find quality moving companies, look for logos and accreditations such as British Association of Removers (BAR) or Household Goods Forwarders Association of America (HGFAA) or the FIDI Global Alliance of international removal companies.
All overseas international shipments require a packing list or inventory. Some moving and relocation companies will provide this service to you for a fee.
If you chose to ship in self-packed boxes, you must provide your moving or relocation company with a content list for each box.
Inventories do not have to list individual items, but the more detailed an inventory list, the easier it will be to obtain customs clearance.
An inventory list may look like this:
- Box 1 – clothing and shoes
- Box 2 – books and CDs
- Box 3 – artwork
- Box 4 – children’s toys and clothing
Your boxes should display numbers on at least one side accordingly.
Shipping by sea
Most relocation and moving companies offer several international shipping methods, such as:
- Door to Door: including packing and loading for export, transport, customs clearance, delivery, unloading and unpacking. This is the most expensive option.
- Door to Port: Excludes customs clearance at the destination, terminal handling charge (THC), and delivery.
- Port to Port: Includes ocean freight or air freight and documentation only. This is the least expensive option.
Some moving and relocation companies offer ‘groupage’ rates if you are willing to ship your goods in half or part of a container, which is then filled with other peoples’ goods.
Doing it Yourself
You may choose to arrange for the moving and relocation of your goods yourself. In this case you will package your goods, deliver them to a shipping company, arrange for their clearance at customs, collect them at an airport or port, and move them to your new home. Your shipping company may provide insurance for your goods at an additional cost, or you will have to insure your goods against loss or damage yourself.
Remember that you must create a full inventory of the contents of your boxes or crates to clear customs. If your goods are arriving in Canada after you, you must present this inventory to a customs official to avoid paying duty on those goods.
By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.