Import from China to Canada – Your Ultimate Guide

Canada is one of the most significant business friends of China. And the importation is increasing day by day. In 2021 Canada imported 68.62 billion dollars, nearly double that of the previous year.

If you want to import from China, you must know all the ins and outs. Otherwise, you will face a series of problems.

Also, you’ll need a reliable freight forwarder to help you get the service and rates you’re looking for.

Winsky freight has been helping importers from Canada to import goods from China to Canada for over a decade. This guide will help you know all the prerequisites you need to know before importing from Canada.

1. What steps to follow to import from China to Canada?

Before importing from China, you have to follow some procedures. That will make the importation process easy for you. Here are the steps:

Register for a Business Number and Import/Export Account from CRA 

This is the first step that every importer in Canada has to follow. If you are a new importer, then you will need a BN or Business Number provided by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). Then you will need an import/export account for transaction purposes. You will get this import/export account after finishing your BN free of cost, and it does not take much time.

Official Website of CRA

Remember, NO Canadian citizen will be able to import from China to Canada without a BN number. So, make sure you obtain a BN number. You can visit the official website of CRA to apply and get more information about this.

Select the Product you want to Import from China

The next step is to identify the product you want to import from China to Canada. This is not an easy thing to do. China is the global leader in terms of exporting goods. From manufactured items to food items, China exports everything. But, as an importer, you need to find the right product for you.

The easy way is don’t just go with the trend. Trendy products do not sustain for a long time. Also, do not import seasonal products. Another important suggestion is DO NOT import anything you don’t know about.

Do proper market research before you import. Without doing proper market research, you can face severe economic loss. For example, if you are looking for dropshipping, here you will find the best products for dropshipping. Like this, you have to understand the market and select your product wisely.

It would help if you learned everything about the products you plan to import. Gather detailed documentation and data on the product’s composition. This will help you to find the exact customs duty, taxes, and other tariffs when you receive your goods from China.

Make sure the good is permitted in Canada

Every country has its own rules regarding which products are permitted to import. Likewise, Canada has rules on which products are permitted to import. There are prohibited products and restricted products.

If the product you want to import falls into the restricted products category, you have to take special permission from the Canadian government. On the other hand, if the product is prohibited or banned in Canada, you can not import that product from China to Canada. Please visit  Memoranda Series D9, Prohibited Importations page to learn more about prohibited items.

Find a Supplier

After selecting the product, you have to find a supplier. Though China has many suppliers, it is not easy to find the ideal supplier for you. But you can find one with some effort. First, you can ask other importers who import the same product you intend to import.

Online research is another good option. Good suppliers have a good online presence. You can visit some business fairs. That is also another great way to find a good supplier.

Find a Freight Forwarder

A freight forwarder is responsible for cargo movement between countries and is usually the last point of contact for a shipment before it reaches its destination. It is also responsible for managing cargo logistics from when it is shipped from its origin to the place it is delivered to.

Freight forwarders from China to Canada

They help move the cargo from the place of origin to the place of delivery, protect the goods from damage, and ensure the goods’ safe and timely delivery to their destination.

As a global export leader, China is full of freight forwarders. But not all of them can deliver the best service. Whether you are a new importer or have been in the industry for a while, you must know how to choose a good freight forwarder.

Select a Customs broker

Customs brokers help you to pay customs duties and taxes and show all the required documentation. You MUST hire a licensed customs broker from the Canadian government. Here are the services you will get from a customs broker

  • Getting the items released from customs;
  • Paying the applied duties, taxes, and other tariffs.
  • obtaining and presenting the documents or data that are required;
  • After payment, respond to any CBSA concerns and
  • Maintaining Records

Some freight forwarders also provide the services that a customs broker does.  If you use our DDP shipping from China to Canada, we will take care of all the customs procedures, and you won’t need to hire a separate customs broker.

Arrange in-land Transportation

This is the last phase while importing from China to Canada. After receiving your goods, you have to travel to your Wearhouse. Freight forwarders also play a vital role here. They have good connections in many countries and can arrange the delivery process for you.

The incoterm and shipping method also play a role in arranging inland transportation. After you complete the in-land transportation, you have successfully imported from China to Canada.

Most Imported products from China to Canada

China is the second-largest trading partner of Canada, providing 14% of Canada’s exports and 22% of Canada’s imports. China also exports over $100 billion a year in goods and services to Canada, making it Canada’s biggest trading partner after the United States.

According to a recent report by the United Nations, Canada is the sixth-largest supplier of natural gas to China. By year-end, Canada will have shipped 21.8 million tonnes of natural gas to China, up from 17.9 million tonnes in 2016.

In fact, the other side of the equation is that China has become Canada’s biggest trading partner by far in recent years and is a major source of foreign direct investment in Canada.

Therefore we can say that both the countries have healthy business relations. Here is the list of top imports in 2021:

  Item  Value in Billion Dollars
 Electrical and electronic equipment  16.59
 Machinery, boilers, nuclear reactors  14.01
 Furniture, prefabricated buildings, lighting signs  4.37
 Toys, games, sports requisites  3.55
 Plastics  3.21
 Articles of steel or iron  2.82
 Vehicles other than railways, tramways  2.67
 Articles of apparel, crocheted or knit  1.75
 Rubbers  1.47
 Optical, technical, photo, and medical apparatus  1.46

2. What Shipping Methods are Available to Import from China to Canada?

While importing from China to Canada, you have several options. However, most people use shipment, which is a service that ships all your packages to you on a set day and time. With shipment, you have more peace of mind knowing that your package is well-protected and that your order will be delivered safely.

Besides, there is express shipping from China to Canada. But as they are more expensive than regular shipping, most businesses don’t prefer express shipping over the regular business shipment.

There is no Rail or Road transportation between these two countries. So, you have two options, Air and Sea shipping. However, there are various methods in these two routes for you to choose from.

Air Shipping

Air shipping is the quickest way to import from China. As it is a quick and safe process to ship your goods, the cost is also high. Therefore, importers from Canada prefer air freight for high-value goods and time-bound products.

Air shipping from China to Canada

But air freight can reduce some of your other costs. For example, air freight doesn’t demand high packaging like sea freight. So, you can reduce the packaging costs. Again, you don’t need a warehouse while using air freight.

Our suggestion is if you are not importing more than 500 Kg, then air freight is a good option for you.

Sea Freight

Most businesses prefer ocean shipping for its low-cost nature. According to OECD, sea shipping is responsible for 90% of global trade. The foremost reason for preferring this shipping method over all other methods is the cost.

Sea shipping from China to Canada

Sea shipping is cheap compared to air or express shipping. Moreover, there are no boundaries like air or express shipping. For example, if you want to ship dangerous goods like lithium batteries by air freight, your goods must meet the requirements of IATA. But if you use sea freight, there are nearly no limitations. You can ship anything you wish.

If you are importing more than 500 Kg, sea freight will be the most cost-effective way for you.

But don’t think that sea freight is only for large volume imports. That is the beauty of ocean shipping. You can use LCL shipping for less amount of goods. LCL shipping is ideal when you are not shipping a huge amount of goods from China to Canada.

In LCL, you will only pay for the amount of space you will use. Therefore, you don’t have to hire an entire container. That’s why most medium to small businesses use LCL shipping.

Winsky freight is famous for its LCL shipping globally. We have a dedicated team to take care of our LCL customers. That’s why our customers always stay satisfied with us. If you are looking for the best LCL shipping quotation, ask for a quote from us.

3. Importing from China to Canada costs

Cost is the most important factor for any business. Therefore, we have accumulated importing from China to Canada costs below:

Air freight costs

Though air freight is considered an expansive shipping method, that is not entirely true in every case. Air freight is a cost-effective shipping method if you import between 100Kg to 500 Kg.

If your imports from China to Canada are between 150 to 500 Kg, air shipping can be a cost-effective option for you.

But one important suggestion, especially for new importers – is the weight system of air freight. Air freight does not use a conventional gross weight system to apply charges on your goods. Instead, they use different chargeable weight processes to calculate your shipping rate.

You will get an overall idea of air shipping costs from the table below:

 Chargeable Weight  Cost (USD)
 0-45 Kg  140
 100 – 300 Kg  26
 300-500 Kg  17

Air freight is by far the fastest for the price. Express air freight is a little more expensive. Shipping rates never stay the same, and it varies for various reasons. So, it would be best if you always asked for quotes from different freight forwarders.

Sea freight Costs

As we stated earlier, sea shipping is the most popular shipping method all over the world, and that is also true for Canadian importers. Especially if you are importing anything over 500 Kg, then sea shipping is the most cost-effective shipping method from China to Canada.

Ocean freight can carry over twenty 10,000 40-ft containers at once. Therefore, the shipping costs are automatically reduced compared to air freight. But after the COVID-19 breakdown, the ocean freight costs rose too much, which was a major concern for all businesses who import from China to Canada. Thankfully, the cost is reduced now and you can ship with minimal cost by ocean freight now.

We have created a

 Shipping Mode  Port of Arrival in Canada  Cost (USD)
 LCL  British Columbia  1100 – 1150
 LCL  Ontario  1250 – 1400
 LCL  Quebec  1200 – 1250
 FCL  18,000 – 20,000 (40 Ft Container)

Sea freight costs depend on various factors. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to tell the shipping costs without knowing what you are importing and the distance between two ports. So, you should always ask for a quotation from various freight forwarders before importing from CHIna to Canada.

4. How long does it take to import from China to Canada?

International shipping is a complicated process. Various factors affect the shipping time, and it is nearly impossible to tell or maintain the exact timetable unless you are using express shipping. So, the first factor is your shipping method.

Air freight is the fastest shipping method. Again, express shipping is more rapid than standard air freight shipping. If you use express shipping, you will receive your goods between two to five days.

You can use express shipping for urgent goods, product samples, prototypes, and documents. But express shipping is costly and not ideal for shipping regular business items. If your goods weigh more than 150 Kg, then express shipping is never cost-effective.

Sea shipping is much slower. Moreover, FCL and LCL have different time schedules.  In FCL, you don’t share your imports with any other importer. In this method, you book an entire container. But in LCL, you share a container with other importers. That’s why LCL shipment is a bit slower than LCL.

There are some other factors you should consider while calculating the time duration. For example, if you import in the peak season, such as Christmas, you will need more time. Again, if you ship during the Chinese holiday season, you have to wait more days than the standard time.

You can get an overall idea of how much time it takes to import from China to Canada from the table below:

 Shipping Method  Door to Door  Port to Port
 Express Shipping*  2 – 5 Days
 Standard Air Freight  4 – 11 Days  2 – 5 Days
 LCL (Sea Freight)  35 – 65 Days  25 – 50 Days
 FCL (Sea Freight)  30 – 55 Days  25 – 50 Days

*Express Shipping by default, a door to door service.

5. Customs Rules and Regulations in Canada.

Canadian customs duties and taxes are one of the many reasons why importing from China to Canada is such a complex process. The Canada Border Services Agency, better known as CBSA, collects duties on all imported and exported goods.

Customs department Canada

The CBSA also collects taxes on various goods and services, such as sales and property taxes. Understanding the different types of duties and taxes will allow you to avoid paying too much or getting ripped off by unscrupulous border services or customs officials.

The Canadian Government implies import duties and taxes to collect money and raise funds for the country, just like any other country in the world.

Duties and taxes are two similar but separate taxes. Duties are usually imposed on imported goods to protect domestic producers, whereas taxes are imposed on a class of people to fund government operations and to pay for government services. Duties and taxes are also imposed to reduce the number of foreign products entering the country.

Tax Calculator for importing from China to Canada

The Canadian Government made the import duty and tax process easier for importers in Canada. You can use this duty and tax calculator to calculate your estimated duties and taxes. But before you calculate import duty and taxes, you should make sure you covered the followings:

  • Accurate value and cost of your import.
  • Payable charges for inspection.
  • Full shipping costs.
  • Logistics and brokerage fees
  • Your residential and business province.
  • The category of your imported goods. For example, automotive, furniture, electronics, etc.
  • Type of your goods.
  • Sales tax on the product.

6. The Right Way to Find an Ideal Supplier from China

Finding suppliers can be difficult in China because it is hard to find a good relationship. Also, it is hard to do business with suppliers without having a strong connection with them.

  • A better way to find a supplier in China is to use a Chinese online-search engine. These provide a variety of options, such as providing exact and broad matching results, helping you read Chinese, and enabling you to communicate directly with potential suppliers in your target language.
  • You can find a supplier who is already delivering goods to other businesses in your region.
  • Visiting trade shows is another great way to find good suppliers. China organizes many trade shows each year. There are many events where businesses in a specific genre present their items. You can visit those trade shows to find the ideal supplier for you.
  • If you are not certain about which product to import from China to Canada, you can contact third-party agents. Third-party agents can deliver you different products from multiple suppliers. Besides, their MOQ is lower than suppliers. So, if you are not sure which product will have more demand in the market, you can contact any third-party agent and import a lower amount of different goods. After selecting a product, you can contact a supplier or manufacturer to get less price.
  • Alibaba and Aliexpress are great starting points for new importers. So, if you are just starting a business, those sites are excellent starting points.
Trade shows are great place to good suppliers

By finding a reliable supplier, you can buy products at lower prices and still get the same quality. You may find a source in one country, but it may not be the best source.

If you are still confused watch the  below video to find an ideal supplier from China.

7. Door to Door shipping from China to Canada

Door to Door shipping is the most convenient shipping method from China to Canada. Especially if you are new in this business and don’t have all the necessary documents for importation, you can use the door to door shipping method.

In door to door shipping, a freight forwarder takes all the responsibilities. Here a freight forwarder receives goods from the supplier and delivers that to your desired location. You can use any shipping method – air or sea freight for door to door shipping.

Winsky freight is famous for its top-quality door to door service from China to Canada. We have a dedicated team to take care of door to door shipping clients from Canada.

8. Is taking Insurance Mandatory while Importing from China to Canada?

Insurance takes care of your goods if anything happens to your goods when you are importing from China to Canada. You can file freight claim for any damage or loss of your goods if you have insurance. But insurance is not mandatory.

Normally both air and sea freight from China to Canada are very reliable. So, you don’t need to worry about your goods. But if you are importing sophisticated or expensive goods, we recommend you take insurance. It will give peace to your mind, and if anything happens on the road, the insurance will cover your damage.

9. Why is Winsky Freight the first choice of many importers in Canada?

International shipping is a complicated industry. There is no alternative to experience in this sector. Besides, a vast network is crucial to complete a successful delivery. With over 12 years of experience and a strong network, Winsky freight ensures the best shipping experience for Canadian importers.

As a result, you should hire a freight forwarder who is familiar with the Chinese and Canadian import-export processes. This method will appear more difficult if you are a first-time importer.

We’ve been dealing with the Canadian market for over a decade and are well-versed in its intricacies. Our devoted crew continually learns new things to give our customers the most fabulous shipping experience possible.


Importing from China to Canada is a very profitable business. But if you don’t follow the right process, you can find yourself in severe economic disaster.

We hope this guide will help you if you are planning to import from China to Canada. We tried to cover the most important topics. If you have any questions, please send us a message. One of our team members from Canada will join you soon.