STEP 5.1.3

Logistical support
Managing your export supply chain

Shipping goods internationally can be overwhelming, but thankfully there are services that can assist with this, at times painful, process.

Shipping Firms

Shipping firms can cover the entire transport of your shipment from end-to-end, or provide conveyance for just one leg of the journey, depending on the company’s scope.

International firms, like UPS and FedEx, can usually get your product from A-to-B anywhere in the world using a combination of their own global logistics networks and third party contractors.

National shipping firms like CN have extensive infrastructure within North America, and can utilize a network of partners to get your goods to overseas destinations.

Smaller firms may only transport your goods within Canada, in which case you will need to find a separate firm to take them overseas, and, if you choose, to your customer’s place of business in your target market.

Deciding what kind of firm to use comes down to cost, timing and convenience. You need to decide when your goods have to be delivered, how much cash you are willing to spend and how much time you have to spend dealing with the details.

Many large, international shipping firms offer a full suite of services, including in-house customs brokerage.

The process of getting your goods overseas is incredibly complicated, so having a customs broker is highly recommended (and in many cases mandatory).

This video from FedEx offers some tips on preparing your shipment for international freight, and while it is geared toward American exporters, the basics are universally applicable:

Customs Brokers

Custom brokers can ease the process of clearing customs.

They are typically licensed by local customs regulators, and have in-depth knowledge of that country’s customs laws, tariffs, export regulations, shipping procedures and trade documentation.

In most countries, you are required to use a local broker to clear your goods.

Brokers serve the following functions:

  • Review your customs documents
  • Prepare and submit documents
  • Ensure tariff classifications are correct
  • Prepare declarations for determination of import duties
  • Cover customs process fees
  • Help with warehousing, insurance, taxes, duty drawbacks

Freight forwarders

Freight forwarders do not ship your goods, but instead coordinate with shipping firms, customs brokers and insurance firms to create a supply chain for your product, doing much of the hard work on your behalf.

These services can negotiate rates with shipping lines, airlines, trucking companies, customs brokers and insurance firms. They can also handle the logistics of your shipping, provide the benefit of improving your delivery times and customer service, and typically offer a service that is more cost-effective than doing it yourself.

Freight forwarders perform a variety of services:

  • Negotiating rates with shipping lines, airlines, trucking companies, customers brokers and insurance firms
  • Recommending the most secure and efficient routing of your goods
  • Advising you on appropriate packaging and labeling
  • Advising you on clearing customs in the country you are exporting into
  • Arranging insurance
  • Providing warehousing
  • Finding alternative shipping methods in the event of an emergency
  • Consolidating small shipments into larger loads
  • Providing a global support network
  • Providing general advice and consultation

Exercise diligence when picking a freight forwarder: ensure that the firm you choose has a good credit rating and payment record, and that they have a list of satisfied customers you can reference. If the freight forwarder is a member of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, this also bodes well.

Freight forwarders can make the process of international shipping relatively painless, especially if you are using multiple shipping carriers to get your products to their destination. If you have merchandise that needs to find its way across the world, this is a service worth looking into.


International carriers only assume limited liability, leaving the exporter responsible for the goods up to the point of delivery.

As such, transportation insurance is a must have.

Marine transport insurance protects both sea- and air-bound goods and connecting land transportation.

These are the three main types of marine insurance:

  1. Free of particular average: This is the narrowest type of coverage. Total losses are covered, as well as partial losses at sea if the vessel sinks, burns or is stranded.
  2. With average: This offers greater protection from partial losses at sea.
  3. All risk: This is the most comprehensive insurance, protecting against all physical loss or damage from external causes.

Marine insurance covers the following types of risk:

Catastrophic Risk: Shipwreck, fire, flood or collision—risks associated with the mode of transportation

Accidental Risk: Dropping, crushing, breaking, corrosion, contamination

War and Political Risks: Wars, strikes, terrorism, civil unrest

Theft and Willful Damage: Theft, piracy, malicious damage, non-delivery

Goods shipped by sea are usually insured for 110 per cent of their value, to compensate for extra costs involved in replacing lost goods.

Duty Relief

Individuals importing goods to re-export them may be able to make use of the Duties Deferral Program, run by the Canadian Border Services Agency, along with other programs run by the Canada Revenue Agency.

These program relieve or defer duty payments if the goods are in transit through Canada or being processed in Canada for the purpose of being exported, and will not be sold on Canadian soil.

For more information, consult section 5.2.

Sources: EDC and TCS


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