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Ocean and Air Shipping From France to Canada

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French exports to Canada totaled US$5.4 billion in 2018, helped by the ongoing trade agreement with the EU. The goods most frequently shipped as an import or export from France to Canada include:

  • Electrical equipment
  • Machinery
  • Wines and spirits
  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceuticals

Whatever you’re importing or exporting, a freight forwarder can help your business exploit the trading opportunities between the two countries. Your forwarder can make it easy to send your goods across the Atlantic by an ocean carrier, or fly them west to Canada aboard a passenger or cargo plane.

Shipping Ocean Freight From France to Canada

Freight forwarding professional in orange top, leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to the flags of France and Canada

Transporting goods in a shipping container from France to Canada can take as few as 17 days, or as many as 32 days, depending on your port of departure and arrival. Your choice of FCL or LCL ocean shipping also affects timings.

A range of containers is available to ship your sea freight, including:

  • Standard containers that open at one end
  • Tank-style containers for liquids and gases
  • Flatback containers for heavy goods
  • Refrigerated containers for temperature-sensitive goods
  • Half-height containers for small volumes of bulky freight

Sending a Less-than-Container-Load (LCL) From France to Canada

If your consignment isn’t large enough to fill a container, it can share one with other products in what’s known as an LCL shipment. Cargo handlers in France will consolidate freight to fill the container before it’s sealed and transferred aboard a cargo vessel for shipping to Canada. This process explains why LCL can take longer than FCL. De-consolidation will be required when your goods arrive in Canada.

Full Container Load (FCL) From France to Canada

In FCL shipping you send your goods in a container filled exclusively with your products. Your container can be sealed at source in France and stay sealed until arrival at your destination in Canada. However, customs officials in either or both ports can decide to inspect your cargo.

Cargo Ports of Origin in France

Le Havre

France’s first-ever container port has three terminals for processing freight, and docks that extend for 6.5km. It’s the second-largest port in the country, located on the North Coast of France, close to Caen and Rouen and under 200km from Paris. Road links to the port are via the A29 and A31 motorways. Railroad connections offer access to and from locations across Europe within one or two days.

Owned By: Grande Port Maritime du Havre.

Annual Container Volume: >2.8 million TEUs.


Fos Sur-Mer

This port is situated on the shores of the Golfe de Fos just under 40km northeast of Marseille. It’s a great choice of port if your supplier or manufacturer is based in Marseille, Montpelier, Avignon, Toulon, or other areas of Southern France. Shipping from here to Montreal can be completed in 17 days by FCL service.

Owned By: Marseille Fos Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.25 million TEUs.



This river port covers 184 hectares and is named after Edouard Herriot, a former mayor of Lyon. It’s regarded by many as the most important containerized freight hub in France. It has two terminals and strong links to the port of Fos-Sur-Mer near Marseille, 300km to the south. Shipping from here to Vancouver can be completed in 32 days by LCL service.

Owned By: Compagnie National du Rhone.

Annual Container Volume: >220,000 TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in Canada


Canada’s largest port is the third-biggest in North America in terms of cargo throughput. Four container terminals can handle your import from France to Canada. Goods traffic is expected to triple by 2030 and major initiatives are underway to ensure the port is ready for the influx of new business.

Owned By: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >3.3 million TEUs.



Situated on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, this port is 1,600km inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It offers the shortest direct route for ocean shipping from Europe and the Mediterranean to North America. In 2019, over 2,000 cargo ships visited the port’s three container terminals.

Owned By: Montreal Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.6 million TEUs.



This inland cargo hub is an ideal port of arrival for goods requiring distribution across Ontario, Northeastern Canada, and the Northeast of the United States. Toronto is Canada’s financial and commercial hub. And it’s less than 100km from Buffalo in upstate New York. The port is easily accessed from the Atlantic Ocean.

Owned By: Ports Toronto.

Annual Container Volume: >Unknown.


Air Freight From France to Canada

Air shipping from France to Canada takes around five days. Freight forwarders will use direct services where available. Otherwise, your export from France to Canada will be flown aboard connecting passenger or cargo-only services.

Air freight is a good option if:

  • Your consignment is relatively small—at most three or four pallets
  • Your cargo is high value so will benefit from the stricter airport and airline security protocols
  • You want to pay a lower insurance premium than you might when using an ocean carrier
  • Your goods are temperature-sensitive, perishable, or fragile

Airports of Origin in France


Also known as Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, this freight hub serves the third-biggest city in France. Lyon is just 20km away and the airport is linked to the Lyon-Part-Dieu Business District. So if your goods originate from there, getting them to the airport is easy. Freight forwarders can book your consignment aboard a passenger flight direct to Montreal. Other destinations in Canada will be reached using indirect services.

Canada airports served: Montreal.

Lyon to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Marseille Provence Airport is France’s third-largest air freight hub. It’s located 27km northwest of central Marseille. If your supply chain involves the movement of goods through Arles, Avignon, Toulon, or elsewhere in the South of France, this airport is a good choice for importing to Canada.

Canada airports served: Montreal.

Marseille to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.



This small airport is 10km southwest of Strasbourg. It has a single runway and one terminal. Freight forwarders will route shipping to Canada from Strasbourg using indirect flights, as no direct services to Canada operate from here.

Canada airports served: None.

Strasbourg to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Paris Charles de Gaulle

France’s biggest airport is the second-busiest in Europe. It’s site covers 32 square kilometers. Shipments from here to Montreal, Edmonton, and Toronto can all be completed in just five days.

Canada airports served: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

Paris to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Destination Airports for Freight Arriving in Canada

Edmonton International

This airport is 26km south of the city. It’s popular with businesses based in Northern and Central Alberta, as well as Northern British Columbia and Yukon. Passenger flights serve 55 destinations worldwide, but there are no direct services from France. So French exports will be routed here via indirect flights.

Connected Airports in France: None.

France to Edmonton Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Also known as James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, this facility is a hub for the freight airline Cargojet. If the goods you wish to import from France to Germany are destined for locations in Manitoba Province, this is a good airport of arrival. Freight forwarders will coordinate the shipping of goods from France via indirect flights.

Connected Airports in France: None.

France to Winnipeg Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Toronto Pearson

The largest and busiest airport in Canada boasts five runways and numerous cargo facilities on its 1800-hectare site. Over half of Canada’s air freight is handled at the facility. FedEx Express has its Canadian cargo hub at the airport. Shipments from Paris to Toronto can be completed in five days.

Connected Airports in France: Paris.

France to Toronto Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Montreal Pierre Trudeau

Montreal is the third-busiest airport in Canada and the major air facility in the province of Quebec. It’s one of only two airports in Canada to operate flights to five continents (the other is Toronto). Three runways receive passenger and cargo-only flights. Shipping from France will be routed here via indirect flights.

Connected Airports in France: Paris.

France to Montreal Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Just 12km from downtown Vancouver, this air facility is a trans-Pacific hub. It’s been the winner of the Skytrak Best North American Airport Award for a record ten years in a row. Freight forwarders will route cargo consignments from France to Vancouver using indirect services—unless your airport of origin is Paris Charles de Gaulle. Your goods can be shipped in the holds of passenger flights direct from the French capital.

Connected Airports in France: Paris.

France to Vancouver Cargo-Only Operators: None.


5 Documents You Need For Customs Clearance in France and Canada

Shipments of commercial goods from Europe to North America must be accompanied by at least five specific documents:

  1. Airway bill for air shipping or bill of lading for ocean shipping (Shipa Freight will provide the one you need)
  2. Commercial Invoice
  3. Certificate of Origin
  4. Packing List
  5. Letter of Credit or other payment terms (the specifics of this will depend on the nature of the deal negotiated between the contractors)

You can find samples of these documents on our documents list. Please note that the list above is not exhaustive. Depending on the nature of your consignment you may be required to complete additional paperwork.

How Long Does It Take To Ship Freight From France to Canada?

Consignment needed in Canada in a hurry? You should choose air shipping. Five to eight days is the average transit time when importing from France to Canada. Less urgent or large shipments can be transported as ocean freight in 17 to 32 days.

How Long To Ship Ocean Freight in a Container From France to Canada?

The trans-Atlantic journey from France to Canada typically takes 17-32 days, as the following examples show:

  • Fos-Sur-Mer to Montreal—17 days FCL
  • Lyon to Vancouver—32 days LCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Air Freight From France to Canada?

Direct flights operating from Paris to various airports in Canada mean air shipping can usually be completed in five days, as indicated by the route examples listed below. Goods shipped from other French airports will use indirect services, but can still be completed in five days.

  • Paris to Edmonton—5 days
  • Paris to Montreal—5 days
  • Paris to Toronto—5 days

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Cargo From France to Canada?

air of hands on a desk, with the left hand operating a desktop calculator and the right hand writing on a notepad with a pen

A freight forwarder will consider at least 5 key factors when calculating the cost of your shipment:

  1. The sea ports or airports of loading and discharge
  2. Whether a port-to-port, port-to-door, door-to-port or door-to-door service is required
  3. Your choice of ocean or air shipping
  4. The weight, dimensions, and volume of your goods
  5. The specific nature of the goods you are looking to ship

The weight of your consignment can sometimes be the deciding factor when choosing air or ocean shipping. If your consignment is under 100kg, air cargo is likely to be just as cost-effective as ocean shipping—and it’s faster.

Goods weighing over 100kg are usually more cost-effective to send as ocean shipping.

Please note that Shipa Freight does not provide quotes for goods under 35kg.

7 Reasons To Choose Shipa Freight for Cargo From France to Canada

Make Shipa Freight your freight forwarding partner for the following benefits:

  • Easy and convenient online shipping management
  • Quotes generated in a matter of minutes for most consignments
  • Real clarity on customs clearance requirements
  • Fast and secure online bookings and payments
  • 24/7 customer support service via online chat, email, or telephone
  • Access to the expertise of worldwide shipping professionals at Agility Logistics
  • Shipment tracking on your smart devices using our platform’s GPS technology

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

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