Managing international customs: E-commerce lab – Video

3 minute read

This is the sixth blog of our six-part series on how to efficiently operate your e-commerce business with in-house expert Suveen Suri. In our E-commerce Innovation Lab, she’ll walk you through completing a customs form with Canada Post and tips to manage customer expectations via your online messaging to ace international shipping.

International shipping isn’t as complicated as it used to be. Today’s e-commerce tools make accessing international markets easier than ever before.

Take for example the task of completing international customs forms. Once a frustrating reality of international shipping, customs forms added a layer of expense and complexity onto every international shipment. Today, e-commerce integrations automate much of the process.

Master the customs process:
Learn how to prepare international shipments to cross borders with ease.

Download customs guide

How to successfully fill out your customs form

It’s essential to fill out your customs form correctly to avoid customs delays and to get your products into your customer’s hands faster. Today, digital tools are readily available to automate this process, completing these forms faster and more consistently.

With Canada Post, international customs forms are integrated into shipping labels. When processing an international order, your shipping system will prompt you for all mandatory information, automatically filling in fields when data is available. Set default values for fields like “Currency” and “Reason for Export”, select from pre-defined goods stored in EST desktop or create a new good when filling out your form. The more you use the system, the more drop-down options will become available to you. Instead of typing out details, save time and money by just clicking the options you want!

Supported fields include:

  1. Origin Address
  2. Destination Address
  3. Quantity
  4. Item Description Line
  5. Weight per item + total package
  6. Total value of contents (be sure to add the value amount you sold for each item and your tool will calculate the total value of the contents.)
  7. Country of manufacture (an optional field. Add this data and the system will include a 6-10 digit code that classifies goods for customs purposes to help smooth the customs process.)
  8. HS Code: This is an optional field. The harmonized system is a 6-10 digit code that classifies goods for customs purposes.
Pro tip

Make sure you understand the de minimis customs thresholds for your products. If your shipment comes in under the de minimus value threshold, it’s exempt from duties and will clear customs much faster!

Keep the communication lines open with your customers

Communication shouldn’t be a challenge for foreign customers looking to buy from your business. Maximize your sales, manage expectations and mitigate confusion by giving your customers all the information they need up front on your website.

Our advice here is simple: Honesty is the best policy.

Whatever level of services, fees and features you are offering your global customers, communicate it accurately so you set clear expectations and generate better shopping cart conversions.

Use your website to give customers all the information they need up front clearly and accessibly, informing them of the following:

  • Duties and taxes they may have to pay
  • Your returns policy
  • How to reach customer support if there is a problem or question
  • Any information regarding expected delivery times, as well as the carriers that will deliver the package
  • Shipping fees
  • How to track the package
  • Insurance on the package

Take the time to ensure you’re clearly communicating all the information a customer needs to confidently purchase from you. Be concise and comprehensive. Your messaging will minimize inquiries to your customer support team and maximize positive customer experience. When customers know purchasing from you is easy, they’re sure to do so again and again!

Need more information?

Canada Post has representatives across Canada who are ready to assist you.

Contact an international shipping expert
Suveen Suri
Suveen Suri is an Advisor for Ecommerce Solution integrations at Canada Post. She works with hundreds of Canadian merchants each year to help them operate more effectively by integrating the right e-commerce tools and solutions.Read more by Suveen Suri