Whether you’re managing a small business and you’re shipping packages to customers or simply sending out gifts for friends and family, you should always take shipping costs into account. And finding the cheapest way to ship in Canada depends on different factors, like volume, weight, and destination.
Thankfully, there are several major carriers operating in Canada—CanadaPost, DHL, FedEx, UPS, Canpar, Dicom, Purolator, Loomis, and more—so you can always compare their rates and choose the carrier that offers the best value for your money.
But here’s the thing, comparing shipping costs can take up a lot of your time. You have to visit each carrier’s website, request a quote, go to the next website, request another quote, and so on.
Before we get to that, however, let’s get into what goes into shipping costs (such as factors impacting shipping across the country) and ways to lower shipping prices. But first, let’s answer the question: What is the cheapest way to ship within Canada?
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Short answer: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Long answer: Ground shipping is the most cost-effective option for small packages. For larger packages, however, you’re better off with less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping (especially if you’re shipping high volumes of heavy products, but not enough to take up all the space in a truck ). With LTL shipping, you’re only paying for the space your goods take up.
You should keep in mind, though, that ground shipping is not the fastest option. You’ll pay less for shipping if you have the opportunity to plan ahead and are able to get your goods where they need to go on time.
Factors That Impact Shipping In Canada
If you’re looking at the bigger picture when it comes to shipping, especially when looking for the best shipping rates in Canada, you should be aware of the factors that impact logistics throughout the country.
The bigger the package, the higher the shipping costs. As a rule of thumb, you should always pack your items in a box that’s large enough to fit them, but that doesn’t offer too much free space. If there’s too much room, the items might wobble or even fall inside the box during transport, which could damage them.
Shipping distance is a big part of the final shipping cost. The farther your package has to travel, the higher the costs. Long-distance shipping costs more because the shipping company has higher fuel and operating costs. Thus, companies adjust their prices to compensate for these factors.
If your package needs to arrive at its destination quickly, your shipping costs go up. To shorten the package’s transit time, trucks carrying it rarely stop along the way. According to Deloitte, 64% of Canadian shoppers don’t want to pay extra for two-day shipping.
Truck drivers cannot rest as much as they should, so the company will have two drivers operating a single truck so they can work in shifts and decrease the transit time. That’s why expedited shipping costs more than regular shipping.
Shipping costs are closely related to the cost of fuel. Some shipping companies adjust their prices according to the cost of gas on a monthly basis.
If you believe your shipping costs more because of the high price of gas, there’s nothing to do but wait for the price to drop. However, the amount of money you save from sending a package is negligible, so this is not a practical approach.
Usually, the items in your package are automatically insured for $100 in the event of damage or loss. But you can pay a premium to get better coverage if you believe your items are worth more than that.
Most carriers charge about $5 for an additional $100 of coverage. It’s important to note that not everything is insurable, so check with one of our support specialists to see if your items benefit from insurance or not.
Residential Location Delivery
Most major carriers charge a residential fee. This happens because couriers often have to store the package in their depot or attempt the delivery several times because the person is not home when their couriers are out delivering packages.
You can easily avoid this fee by sending the package to the individual’s work address or request that the package be held for pickup and is one way you can get close to the cheapest way to ship boxes across Canada.
Delivery Address Problems
You will be charged an extra fee if there’s a problem with the delivery address and it needs a correction. Some carriers charge a correction fee by package, while others charge by shipment. Either way, your shipping costs can go up rather quickly.
However, if the address you used is wrong and the carrier cannot correct it, you will get it back at your own expense. But if your package is over a certain size and weight, the carrier might charge a correction fee because they attempted to correct the address, even if they were ultimately unsuccessful.
The carrier will often charge an extra fee if you send packages to remote locations, such as small remote towns, locations that are accessible only during certain times of the year, or cottages.
The only thing you can do to avoid this fee is convincing the recipient to pick up the package from another, more accessible location. This location can either be their workplace address, the carrier’s depot, or something else.
Lack of Network
Comparing costs between carriers is essential if you want to find the cheapest way to ship within Canada. Every carrier will come up with a different cost to ship the same package between the same two locations.
Some carriers have higher operating costs than others due to a lack of presence in the region or a poorly established network in certain parts of the country. Comparing shipping costs is a great way to save money.
It’s not uncommon for carriers to charge for package tracking. However, the package tracking fee is relatively inexpensive and it allows you and the recipient to check your package’s status at all times.
You probably know that buying in bulk brings down your cost per item. Well, this applies to shipping costs as well—the more you ship with the same carrier, the cheaper the cost of shipping becomes.
This is certainly an advantage if you ship a lot of packages every month—think tens or hundreds of packages, depending on the carrier—but you normally can’t access good volume discounts unless you do.
That’s where Ship Expert can help. We can offer you the volume discounts normally reserved for large corporations, whether you ship tens of packages per month or a single one now and again. Learn more about how our process works here.
How To Lower The Shipping Price For Common Items
The following tips and tricks will help you find the cheapest ways to ship parcels and common items in Canada.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Ship Small Boxes?
Packaging Matters - When looking at the cheapest way to ship boxes across Canada, one of the best things you can do to lower your shipping costs is packing them properly. If your boxes are not packed properly and your items are damaged during transit, the carrier can refuse to pay out your insurance.
Make sure you pack those items well. The box you use should be just large enough to fit your items. If there’s any room left, fill it with some padding like bubble wrap or newspapers to prevent the items from moving inside the box.
Use Ship Expert - Another efficient way to reduce your expenses while shipping small items is using Ship Expert’s volume discounts. Ship as much or as little as you need. It’s really that simple.
What’s The Cheapest Way To Ship Clothes?
Clothes are some of the easiest items to ship. Most clothing items can be folded without suffering any damage, so you can fit multiple items in a single box or container.
Pack Your Clothes In Boxes - However, some people make the mistake of shipping their clothes in poor packages, such as duffel bags, suitcases, or plastic bins. Most carriers charge additional fees for poorly packed items, so you risk driving your shipping costs up by not packing the clothes properly.
The best way to do this is by transferring all the clothes you want to send into a cardboard box. It’s also worth noting that the size of the box affects the shipping price, so it’s in your best interest to fit all the clothes in a small box.
And here’s the thing, you can find a lot of video tutorials online explaining how to fold your clothes to make them fit in small containers.
What’s The Cheapest Way To Ship Small Electronics?
Use The Right Boxes - When it comes to electronics, proper packaging can go a long way. You should always select the right-sized box for every electronic item (their original box works great for this purpose), use a lot of packaging material, and eventually double-box fragile or sensitive items.
Insure Your Electronics - You should consider purchasing additional insurance if your electronics have a high value. Even though most packages reach their destination safely, some do get damaged in transit or might even disappear on occasion.
Consider Expedited Shipping - One could argue that expedited shipping is better for high-value electronics because the packages don’t have to pass through as many contact points, which means they will be handled less.
As a result, there’s a lower chance of them being damaged. However, expedited shipping is more expensive than regular shipping, so you’ll have to think about the trade-offs.
What’s The Cheapest Way To Ship Luggage Within Canada?
This might not come as a surprise, but shipping your luggage by ground carriers can be significantly cheaper than taking it with you on your flight. However, there are some things you should be aware of to keep your luggage safe and get some of the best shipping rates in Canada.
Ship Your Luggage In Cardboard Boxes - You shouldn’t ship your luggage in luggage containers. You should transfer it in cardboard boxes instead. This should help you avoid any additional handling fees the carrier might charge, and it will also lower the chances of your luggage container getting damaged in transit.
Use Multiple Small Boxes Instead Of A Large One - If you have a lot of luggage, you should consider packing it in multiple small boxes. Large boxes can incur “large package” fees of $90 - $1200, depending on their size and carrier policy.
Carriers usually charge this fee because the package you send is too large for a single person to carry. As a result, the carrier will have to pay someone to accompany the couriers on their route, and they’ll charge you for compensation.
In addition, large packages generally get damaged easier than smaller ones. The larger the package, the more difficult it is to manipulate, which means it will probably hit some walls or doors on its way to its destination.
Compare Rates With Ship Expert - Use Ship Expert to find the cheapest courier service in Canada. Keep in mind that every courier charges a different fee to transport the same package, so use Ship Expert to make sure you always get the best value for your money.
Don’t Pay For The Insurance - Insurance doesn’t cover your personal belongings, so your luggage won’t be covered in the event of a claim. However, this means that you’ll have to be extra careful when you’re packing your luggage to make sure everything will be fine in transit.
Use Boxes To Ship Your Tires - If you’re able to find cardboard boxes that are large and sturdy enough to fit your tires, you could save a lot of money by packing the tires and shipping them in boxes. Keep in mind that shipping heavy boxes might also attract handling fees, so you could try using multiple boxes to avoid the fee.
Secure The Shipping Label - You should also know that the shipping label might peel off the tires if you ship them on their own, so make sure you somehow secure it on all of the tires if you want them to reach their destination.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Ship Snowboards?
Snowboards are likewise bulky, though less heavy but they remain inflexible as one long piece. Carriers will likely charge an additional handling fee if you’re looking for the cheapest way to send a parcel in Canada.
Shipping Snowboards Might Be Costly - Most carriers will ship your snowboard, but each of them accepts snowboards that fit into certain weight and size limits. But you will have to pay extra if your snowboard surpasses those limits. And sometimes, the extra fees can be as high as $900.
Take Your Snowboard As Luggage - The cheapest way to travel with a snowboard is by taking it with you as extra luggage on your flight, train, or bus.
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The Cheapest Way To Ship Within Canada: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Cheapest Parcel Shipping Within Canada?
Shipping a package within Canada can be cost-effective if you choose the right service.
One of the most affordable options is Canada Post's Regular Parcel service. This service offers low rates, tracking, and delivery within 2-9 business days, depending on the destination. To further reduce costs, consider using a flat rate box if your package fits, as it can save you money on heavier shipments.
Another of the cheapest ways to ship parcels in Canada is by working with Ship Expert. No matter how much or how little you have to ship, you can save up to 70% on shipping costs—we’ll get you the cheapest shipping in Canada, from FedEx to Canada Post.
Additionally, purchasing postage online can yield further discounts, and reusing packaging materials can minimize expenses. Lastly, comparing rates between various shipping carriers may uncover even cheaper alternatives.
Compare Shipping Rates in Canada: Is Canada Post Cheaper Than FedEx?
As the national postal service, Canada Post often provides more competitive rates for domestic shipments, especially individuals and small businesses sending parcels infrequently—making it a strong contender as the cheapest way to ship within Canada for small business.
What is the Cheapest Way to Ship to the US from Canada?
Canada Post's Small Packet – USA Air service offers competitive rates for lightweight parcels, with delivery times of 5-8 business days.
For heavier packages, consider using the Tracked Packet – USA service, which includes tracking and delivery confirmation.
To save even more, purchase postage online and take advantage of any discounts.
It's always a good idea to compare rates across different carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, and it’s easier than ever to compare shipping rates in Canada with Ship Expert.
What is the Cheapest Way to Send a Parcel in Canada for Small Businesses?
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to ship within Canada for a small business, you should consider Canada Post's Solutions for Small Business program.
This program offers discounted rates on domestic shipping services, such as Regular Parcel and Expedited Parcel, based on the volume of shipments. Signing up is free and can help you save.
You should also explore third-party shipping consolidators and platforms that provide cheap shipping in Canada with multiple carriers, such as Ship Expert.
Comparing cheap courier services in Canada and negotiating rates can lead to the most affordable shipping solutions for small businesses. Even better? We negotiate these rates for our customers, business owners just like you.
What is the Cheapest Way to Ship Heavy Objects Within Canada?
Canada Post's Regular Parcel service offers competitive rates for packages weighing up to 30 kg, with delivery times between 2-9 business days. If your heavy item fits, using a flat rate box can save you money.
Alternatively, explore options from other carriers like FedEx, UPS, and Purolator, which may offer better pricing for heavy shipments.
Obtain quotes from multiple carriers and consider using a freight shipping service if your item exceeds weight limits for standard parcel delivery. Lastly, reuse packaging materials and pack efficiently to minimize overall shipping costs.
How Can I Find The Cheapest Way To Ship Products?
Ship Expert makes finding the cheapest way to ship products easy. We collaborate with all the major carriers operating in Canada. When you want to ship something, simply visit our website and get a shipping estimate.
By doing this, you’ll find out which carrier can transport your package to its destination, and you will also learn how much the shipping will cost before ordering a pick-up.
And that’s not all. After deciding on a carrier, you can access our exclusive volume discounts, which can save you up to 40% off the regular price.
How Do I Calculate Shipping Costs?
Most Canadian carriers offer cost estimation tools on their websites. You can calculate your shipping costs by visiting each website and entering your shipping information.
An easier way of doing this is by using Ship Expert’s comparison tool to get the shipping cost estimates from all the major carriers at the same time. The process is super easy, and you’ll get your results in as little as one or two minutes.
Greg Woo is a seasoned expert in the logistics and distribution industry, with a career spanning over two decades. He has a comprehensive understanding of shipping and distribution needs, and has extensive experience integrating with e-commerce stores as well as customer specific WMS (warehouse management systems) and ERP’s (enterprise resource planning software). His tenure in the industry and established courier and LTL partnerships have allowed clients to benefit from reduced shipping expenses, as well as improved operations through software and specialized integrations.
Greg is currently the Director at Ship Expert Inc., a role he has held since February 2015. Prior to his role at Ship Expert, Greg held significant positions at Juxto, a telecommunications and managed internet service provider.
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