Our neighbours have it good when it comes to access to cheaper goods. Unfortunately the exchange rate is not the only factor to consider when shopping online on foreign websites. Transportation costs can turn a “too good to be true” online purchase into to a real nightmare. Luckily you have a few options available to you when using “ship-to addresses” in the USA.
‘Ship-to’ addresses are locations across the US that, for a small fee, will allow you to use their warehouses as a shipping destination for your shipments. There are a couple of warehouses along the US/Canadian border that offer this service. This is interesting for online shoppers since it shortens the drive you would have to take in order to get the item, making it a more feasible option. It is also a potential excuse for a well deserved mini-vacation. You potentially get to save money and relax!
This is also an ideal solution if your chosen website does not ship outside the U.S. When completing your order on the vendor’s shopping cart, you can enter your ship-to address to avoid the dreaded “we only ship to the continental US” message.
How to use a Ship-To Address:
-Sign up with the company you have selected. Depending on the warehouse there will be a registration fee. This is not the case for the two companies listed at the end of this article.
-Place your order and have your purchase shipped to the warehouse. They will keep your shipment for a specified amount of time. They will usually notify you when your shipment has arrived. Some even offer the option of sending you a picture of your package to make sure that it is what you ordered. How convenient!
-Head to the warehouse, collect your package and pay the fees.
-When you are ready to come back to Canada you can either self-clear–or, if you are a business, hire Border Bee to pre-clear the package for you. For more information on pre-clearing commercial items see here.
Unless you have an American aunt living conveniently close to the Canadian border, you will likely have to pay a warehouse to hold and receive your packages. Luckily the fees are very modest. The pricing will depend on the size of the shipment as well as the amount of time it will sit at the warehouse, although rates will start around $5.
Please also note that many of these warehouses also have time limits in which the package must be picked up before they start charging storage.
Here are two popular ship-to service providers:
If you do not live close to the border, you can also select a service that will forward the parcel onto you.