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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to Canada

Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 16 Sep 202111 min read

Consumer goods account for 20% of Canadian imports, with motor vehicles, electronics, machinery, and chemical products also ranking highly. The United States is by far the most dominant origin of imported goods into Canada, with China a distant second.

Wherever you’re looking to export or import to Canada from, and whatever your product, this page is for you. It’s a source of information to help you ship ocean or air freight to Canada with greater ease and success.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to Canada?

Flag of Canada to show Shipa Freight capacity to ship to Canada

You can ship commercial goods to Canada via ocean carriers or air freight companies. Each has plus-points and drawbacks, which you will find outlined on this page.

Ocean Freight to Canada

Less than Container Load (LCL): You don’t have to hire a whole container to ship your freight to Canada. LCL shipping lets your goods occupy space in a shared container. You might find this the most economical way to ship smaller consignments.

Full Container Load (FCL): This form of international shipping requires you to rent a whole container for the transportation of your cargo. It gives businesses the chance to seal their container at source and for it to remain sealed until it reaches the recipient in Canada. FCL shipping can be both quicker and cheaper than LCL.

Air Freight to Canada

Whether it’s via a direct cargo-only flight or indirect passenger services, air freight will be the quickest way to ship your goods. It is, however, by far the most expensive option.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to Canada?

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A freight forwarder can provide you with quotes for ocean and air shipping to Canada based on the following criteria:

  • The nature of the goods you wish to ship
  • Your chosen mode of transport, be that air freight or ocean shipping via FCL or LCL
  • How big your cargo is and how much it weighs
  • The distance the freight needs to be moved
  • Your choice of door-to-port, port-to-door, port-to-port or door-to-door delivery

As mentioned above, the weight of your consignment affects the price of shipping. It can also affect your choice of air or ocean freight. If your goods weigh over 100kg, sea freight is usually the most cost-effective option. Under 100kg (but over 35kg) and there’s little difference between the cost of ocean or air shipping, so you might prefer to use the faster option (almost certainly air freight). Consignments weighing 35kg or under won’t be handled by a freight forwarder, so you should look to international couriers to transport these goods.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to Canada?

Of course, the distance to Canada from your chosen seaport or airport of origin will affect the shipping times. Generally speaking, you can expect an air shipment from a major international airport anywhere in the world to take between two and eight days to reach its destination in Canada.

Ocean shipping is a slower process. The cargo vessels transporting containers to Canada move at an average speed of 35km per hour. So shipments can take from as little as 11 days to as many as 53 days to reach consignees in Canada. Your choice of FCL or LCL will also have a bearing on transit time.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea to Canada?

Below are some samples of ocean shipping durations for Canada-bound consignments from various locations:

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Transit Time LCL Transit Time FCL
Australia Melbourne Vancouver 32 Days
Australia Brisbane Montreal 41 Days 45 Days
Australia Brisbane Vancouver 43 Days 45 Days
Australia Fremantle Vancouver 36 Days
Australia Melbourne Toronto 44 Days
Australia Sydney Montreal 49 Days
Belgium Antwerp Montreal 13 Days
Brazil Santos Montreal 18 Days
China Shanghai Vancouver 17 Days
China Shanghai Toronto 31 Days 30 Days
China Shanghai Montreal 29 Days
China Qingdao Toronto 36 Days
China Qingdao Montreal 36 Days
China Xiamen Montreal 27 Days
China Dalian Montreal 33 Days
China Tianjin Montreal 36 Days
China Xiamen Montreal 27 Days
China Zhongshan Vancouver 27 Days
China Zhongshan Toronto 36 Days
China Ningbo Toronto 23 Days
Colombia Buenaventura Montreal 53 Days
France Fos-Sur-Mer Montreal 17 Days
Germany Hamburg Montreal 25 Days 15 Days
Germany Hamburg Toronto 21 Days
India Cochin Toronto 20 Days 34 Days
India Cochin Vancouver 53 Days
India Chennai Montreal 34 Days
India Chennai Toronto 32 Days 33 Days
India Mundra Montreal 28 Days
India Mundra Toronto 50 Days
India Mundra Vancouver 50 Days
India Nhava Sheva Toronto 42 Days 40 Days
India Nhava Sheva Vancouver 42 Days 51 Days
India Kolkata Montreal 42 Days
India Tuticorin Toronto 38 Days
India Tuticorin Vancouver 45 Days
India  Visakhapatnam Toronto 45 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Montreal 34 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Toronto 41 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Toronto 39 Days
Italy Genoa Montreal 14 Days
Italy Venice Vancouver 57 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Toronto 40 Days
Mexico Veracruz Montreal 57 Days 26 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Montreal 16 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Toronto 17 Days
Singapore Singapore Montreal 32 Days
Singapore Singapore Vancouver 33 Days
United Arab Emirates Dubai Toronto 50 Days 39 Days
United Arab Emirates Dubai Montreal 43 Days
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Toronto 53 days
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Montreal 56 Days 38 Days
Vietnam Haiphong Montreal 38 Days

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air to Canada?

As the examples below show, you can expect an air shipment to Canada from a major international airport anywhere in the world to take between two and eight days:

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Transit Time
Australia Brisbane Calgary 3 Days
Australia Melbourne Vancouver 2 Days
Australia Sydney Toronto 3 Days
Brazil São Paulo Montreal 6 Days
Brazil São Paulo Vancouver 6 Days
China Guangzhou Toronto 6 Days
China Shanghai Toronto 5 Days
China Shanghai Winnipeg 6 Days
China Shenzhen Toronto 8 Days
China Xiamen Toronto 8 Days
France Paris Montreal 5 Days
France Paris Edmonton 5 Days
France Paris Toronto 5 Days
Germany Dusseldorf Toronto 11 Days
Germany Frankfurt Calgary 5 Days
Germany Hamburg Vancouver 5 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Calgary 8 Days
India Ahmedabad Toronto 7 Days
India Bangalore Edmonton 6 Days
India Bangalore Vancouver 7 Days
India Mumbai Montreal 7 Days
India Mumbai Toronto 6 Days
India Mumbai Vancouver 6 Days
India Mumbai Winnipeg 6 Days
India Delhi Montreal 8 Days
India Delhi Toronto 6 Days
India Delhi Calgary 7 Days
India Delhi Vancouver 6 Days
India Chennai Toronto 4 Days
India Chennai Calgary 6 Days
India Coimbatore Toronto 7 Days
India Cochin Toronto 6 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Montreal 7 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Toronto 7 Days
Italy Rome Toronto 3 Days
Italy Milan Toronto 4 Days
Singapore Singapore Montreal 8 Days
Singapore Singapore Vancouver 8 Days
South Korea Seoul Toronto 6 Days
Switzerland Zurich Calgary  5 Days
Thailand Bangkok Toronto 8 Days
United Arab Emirates Dubai Toronto 4 Days
United Arab Emirates Dubai Calgary 4 Days
United Kingdom London Vancouver 4 Days
United Kingdom London Toronto 6 Days
United Kingdom Glasgow Toronto 2 Days
United Kingdom London Calgary 2 Days
United Kingdom London Vancouver 2 Days

Import Customs Clearance in Canada

All commercial shippers seeking to import goods into Canada have to observe customs regulations. As these can be confusing, many businesses choose to hire a freight forwarder to manage the process. By engaging the services of experts, businesses can avoid unnecessary shipping delays and ensure their consignments comply with Canadian customs rules.

Even when using international shipping experts, it’s still essential for a business to prepare and submit certain documents. Here are the documents that Canadian customs officials are most likely to require:

  1. Commercial Invoice

  2. Packing List

  3. Certificate of Origin

  4. Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)

  5. Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

The above list is not exhaustive, as other documents, such as certificates, permits, and licenses might also be necessary for your goods. Your freight forwarder will advise you on the precise requirements.

If you want to see samples and discover more about each of the documents, we’ve gathered them all for your scrutiny on this documents list page.

Ship Ocean Freight to Canada: FCL or LCL?

Depending on where in the world your shipment begins its journey to Canada, you can expect ocean freight to take anywhere between 11 and 53 days to reach your consignee. Most of the world’s major ports are served by ocean shipping lines ready to convey your goods to North America. A forwarder can help arrange and coordinate your shipment and get you the best port-to-port sea freight rates.

It’s highly likely that your goods will be transported aboard a cargo vessel inside a standard 20ft or 40ft container. If your shipment should require a specialist container your freight forwarder will outline your options. In any event, there are two ways to ship your goods in a container to Canada—FCL or LCL.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Canada

This form of shipping is likely to be best for your Canada-bound freight if it’s:

  • A relatively small shipment.
  • Not urgently required by your consignee in Canada.
  • Able to be shipped alongside other goods from other businesses in a shared container.
  • Too big for air shipping, or not suitable to be flown aboard an aircraft.

You should be aware that although LCL is often the most cost-effective way to ship to Canada, it can have a downside. Because your goods will be sharing container space with others, they will need to be consolidated in your port of origin. They will also need to be deconsolidated at your port of arrival in Canada. Both are essential logistics steps that can result in longer transit times than other forms of shipping.

You should avoid LCL shipping to Canada if:

  • Your freight is high-value, fragile or perishable.
  • Frequent moving or handling of your goods might damage them.
  • You cannot accept shipping delays.
  • Your goods are very large and/or extremely heavy.

Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Canada

This could be the right shipping option for your consignment if:

  • It’s needed in Canada by a specified date.
  • It will occupy at least half the capacity of a standard 20ft container—14CBM or more.
  • It’s delicate or heavy freight.
  • You want your container sealed at the point of origin and to remain sealed until received by the consignee..

Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Canada


Port Facts:

  • Situated on Quebec’s St. Lawrence River.
  • Only 17km from Montreal Trudeau Airport.
  • Located 1,600km inland from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Offers the shortest direct shipping route into Canada for ocean carriers from North America and Europe.
  • Its three cargo terminals handled more than 2,000 vessels in 2019.
  • Easy onward distribution from the port to Ottawa, Drummondville, and Sherbrooke.

Owned By: Montreal Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.6 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario.
  • It provides easy access to over 25% of Canada’s population.
  • Quick onward distribution of goods to consignees in Brampton, Mississauga, Markham, and Hamilton.

Owned By: Ports Toronto.

Annual Container Volume: >Unknown.



Port Facts:

  • A gateway into Canada for over 170 global trading economies.
  • Situated at the mouth of the Fraser River.
  • Easy access to Kerrisdale, Burnaby, Delta, and New Westminster.
  • Cargo traffic is expected to triple by 2030.

Owned By: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >3.3 million TEUs.


Air Shipping for Your Freight to Canada

  • You should seriously consider shipping your goods as air freight if any of the following apply:
  • Your cargo is fragile or has a short shelf-life.
  • Your goods are required urgently in Canada.
  • Your consignment is small, comprising just a few pallets of goods.
  • Your recipient in Canada is situated closer to an international airport than a seaport.
  • Your cargo is valuable and will benefit from the tight security measures taken by airlines and airport operators..

Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Arrival in Canada

Edmonton International (IATA Code: YEG)

Airport Facts:

  • Located 26km outside Edmonton city center.
  • Ranked Canada’s fifth-busiest airport for cargo.
  • Boasts six freight terminals, three with temperature-control facilities.
  • Aprons and runways accommodate the world’s largest air freighters.

Calgary (IATA Code: YYC)

Airport Facts:

  • Gateway to Northwestern Canada for air cargo from Europe and Asia.
  • Infrastructure includes four runways, including Canada’s longest at 4,260 meters.
  • 50 million people live within a day’s drive of the airport.
  • Adjacent to three trade parks: McCall South, McCall North, and Deerfoot South.
  • Lies at the crossroads of the north-south Canamex corridor and the east-west Trans-Canada highway.

Toronto Pearson (IATA Code: YYZ)

Airport Facts:

  • Canada’s biggest and busiest airport.
  • Situated 14km northwest of downtown Toronto.
  • The facility handles over half of Canada’s air cargo.

Winnipeg (IATA Code: YWG)

Airport Facts:

  • Full name is James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.
  • Easy access to major trucking routes including the Trans-Canada highway.
  • Strategically located in the heart of the Mid-Continent Trade Corridor.
  • Ideal port of arrival for goods destined for Grande Pointe, Headingley, Rosser, Lockport, and others in Manitoba Province.

Montreal Pierre Trudeau (IATA Code: YUL)

Airport Facts:

  • Canada’s third-busiest airport for freight.
  • Serves Canada’s second-biggest city, Montreal.
  • Strategic gateway between Europe and North America.

Vancouver (IATA Code: YVR)

Airport Facts:

  • 12km from Vancouver city center.
  • 302,000 tonnes of air freight was processed here in 2019.
  • Winner of ‘Best North American Airport Award’ for ten years in a row.

Ocean and Air Shipping to Canada: Why Choose Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight is a digital-first freight forwarder. Our online platform makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to ship to Canada by air or sea. Our consignment tracking features and quick quote, booking, and payment functionality simplify the international shipping process.

Here are some other benefits of using us to coordinate your shipping to Canada:

  • Friendly 24/7 customer support service available via phone, email, and online chat.
  • Rely on us to let you know the shipping documents your consignment needs.
  • Expert help and advice to simplify customs complexity.
  • Your shipment will adhere to international shipping rules and regulations.

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