I live in a Rural area of Canada, so there is some of my advice is for shipping to Canada in general, and some is for shipping to Rural locations in Canada. I will separate these two below so you know which are which.
If you are a shipper in the USA that wants to increase your business - note that every time I won an auction on ebay - it means that I offered more money than any Americans did. It means that the eBay sellers got paid MORE because they were willing to ship to me. (Note also that almost all said they would not ship to Canada, but I show them my eBay record and asked them to make an exception for me - and obviously they all did! In fact, more than 40% of those I ask make an exception for me.)
If you are a purchaser in Canada, and you are new to importing personally, these tips may make your life easier! Note that while UPS is the same name in both countries, USPS stands for "United States Postal Service (or System - I can't remember)" while Canada Post is the Canadian Postal Service.
First of all, in the US, most people ship using UPS. I'm told in talking with sellers that this is because UPS is easy to work with, very fast and very cost efficient (cheap). Unfortunately going from the US to Canada with UPS, most of the benefits disappear.
For example: If you use UPS Ground to ship to Canada, UPS will charge you an outrageous "brokerage fee" to tell you that you don't owe anything in customs, and you owe just GST. Here are some REAL examples I've been stuck with with UPS Ground:
UPS charged me $60 plus GST to tell me that I owed $1.25 on a $25 product. So the cost of the $25 product was over $87 for a $25 product.
UPS charged me $35 plus GST to tell me that I owed NOTHING on a $1 product. So the $1 product cost me $36.
I have never been able to figure out how UPS decides how much to charge for the brokerage fee - but I can guarantee you - they will charge at LEAST $20 more than USPS (Canada Post at my end).
USPS (Canada Post) charges a flat $7 brokerage fee. But only if the product is over a certain $ amount. If it is like my $25 and $1 packages above - they charge ZERO dollars and ZERO cents and they charge me NOTHING for the GST.
If you want to get a package via UPS, make sure it is shipped by AIR. In most cases, the extra cost to go by AIR instead of GROUND is LESS than the brokerage fee. The only exception is with products that are very heavy - and usually that means products that cost $1000's of dollars.
Don't use UPS - Air or Ground - they will MAIL you a letter telling you to come pick up the package! This has happened to me even when the package had clear instructions to my property and had my correct phone number. It is usually faster to simply have it sent by mail in the first place! I once tried using UPS to ship live animals after talking with UPS to "make sure" I did everything correctly... Including the letter they mailed me telling me to come pick up my urgent package, instead of phoning me with the number that was clearly marked on the package, they were dead.
Don't pay extra to get it shipped USPS Expedited. Just have it shipped standard cheapest USPS (they used to call it "ground".)
Now let me tell you why ... And I verified this with Canada Post... Canada Post owns their own courier company as well as the mail delivery system. When someone ships a package to Canada using USPS Expedited, it starts out coming in by the mail system. Canada post then has all the packages sent to some regional distribution centres, the package then goes to the local distribution centres. They then notice that it is a rural address so they won't deliver it, so they - you guessed it - write a letter, give it to Canada Post who delivers it to you, telling you to come pick up the package. And it gets worse ... see below for the real story. Given where I live, here, really, is the path it takes to get to me - and remember, I did confirm this with Canada Post:
But again - USPS normal works JUST fine. Usually I get the package in 7-14 days. Once in a rare time (usually around holidays) it takes up to 21 days.
CONCLUSION: SHIP TO CANADA USING USPS, and if your customer is in a rural location, use the cheapest USPS method, don't pay for faster service - it takes too long.
If you are a shipper TO Canada or a purchaser IN Canada and you can offer more tips, or tell me how I am wrong if I just <fill in the blank>, please feel free to let me know, I'm always interested in learning more and being better, and I'll happily give you credit for your comments when I add them to this page.
If you are a shipper who does NOT yet ship to Canada - notice how many other ebay sellers say they don't ship to International destinations, they only ship to the US and Canada. For years the airlines said "Domestic, Canada and International". Even the Dallas airport, when I (A Canadian) waited in line 2.5 hours to get to the front of the "International Visiters" line was told by the customs official - Oh, you are Canadian and you speak English (a few Canadians only speak French), he said - next time go in the US Citizens only line - and I do now and they don't complain. So, back from my rabbit trail, you should be shipping to Canada if you are located in the US. And shipping anywhere in the world will increase your business even more in most cases.
And as a US shipper - don't worry about the FACT that it is going to take an extra week or two to get to us (clearing customs, yadda yadda yadda) - that's OK - we expect that, so we will still be happy customers.
And yes, just like there are some terrible buyers in the US, there are some terrible buyers in Canada, so not all of us are worth selling to, just like not all of the buyers in the US are worth selling to. That's business.
But if I come asking - please be nice and let me bid. Notice my perfect eBay record. I treasure that and work hard to make sure all sellers are happy with me, so other sellers will also sell to me. You know you can trust selling to me even though I'm in Canada.