How to Sell on Amazon FBA Canada (Amazon.ca) in 2019June 18, 2016 in Amazon, Blog, Chinese Importing, Selling Your Products
Guess what Amazon FBA sellers – if you’re selling via FBA on Amazon.com, Amazon by default does not list your products in the second largest state in the USA. That’s right- your products are not eligible to be purchased by over 35 million consumers. This state is of course none other than Canada.
OK, Canada being the 51st state is about as cliched of a Canada joke as you can get. But in all seriousness, Canada is a big country that’s closer to most Americans than Miami or Anchorage is AND you’re not selling to these customers if you’re simply selling your products on Amazon.com.
If you feel like you’ve tapped out all of your maximum potential on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca is a relatively painless way to increase your sales by an extra 10-20%.
Related Reading: How to Sell on Amazon.co.uk
Why should you sell on Amazon.ca?
- 10-20% boost of sales
- Much less competition than Amazon.com
- Build up your listings and reviews now while competition is weak
- Allows you to ship products from Canada to Canadians from non-Amazon sources
- Easier Sales Tax
Canada has about 10% of the population of the US so simply by this math you can expect about a 10% sales boost for any one product by selling in Canada. However, for almost all products on Amazon.ca, the competition is much MUCH less than Amazon.com so a 10-20% boost is more reasonable.
As Amazon.ca becomes more popular with Canadians, competition will continue to increase. For this reason alone, I think if you have goals of one day expanding to Canada now is the time to do it to solidify your reviews and rankings in Canada and get a first-mover advantage.
One of the other benefits of selling on Amazon.ca is that you can use multi-channel fulfillment to ship Canadian orders from your website to Canadians direct from Canada. This avoids duties and long transit times and is a big positive for Canadians.
Canada also has a much easier sales tax process than in the U.S. Canada has what they call a harmonized sales tax meaning there’s only one tax to collect for most provinces (I’ll get into this shortly).
Who Shouldn’t Sell on Amazon.ca?
Selling in Canada is relatively easy but it does add one more complexity to your business. You’re now dealing with multiple currencies, multiple tax jurisdictions, multiple market places, etc. The fruit is hanging, but it’s not the lowest hanging fruit. If you’re only selling on Amazon.com right now, here’s other priorities I would list ahead of selling on Amazon.ca:
- Sell on your own website
- Launching PPC campaigns, specifically Adwords and Bing Ads
- Setup your email list and do consistent email marketing
- Sell on other market places such as eBay and Etsy
That list isn’t exhaustive, but it gives you an idea that there are easier things to do to grow your sales by 10%-20% than by selling on Amazon.ca. For my company though, I feel like we’d eaten all of the other low hanging fruit and selling on Amazon.ca was a natural expansion area for us.
Popular Misconceptions About Americans Doing Business in Canada
- You will have to pay Canadian income tax
- Product regulations are different and more complex than in the United States
- You will need to setup a Canadian Bank Account
- Americans can work in Canada without a visa
- Canada is the largest Park in Montana
We are not accountants, but normally income you make in Canada will likely be exempt via tax treaty (assuming you have no permanent establishment in Canada). The reverse is true for Canadians doing business in the U.S. Check with an accountant to be sure of your tax liabilities though. However, you will definitely be subject to a sales tax liability.
Product safety requirements, labeling, etc are normally very similar to the U.S. (opposed to, for example Europe, where they are much different). As always though, check with a customs broker to be aware of any potential importing requirements before importing.
Canadian French Labeling Requirements
Canada has a significant French population, particularly in Quebec. By law, all mandatory label information be shown in English and French except the dealer’s name and address. This normally includes the product name and net quantity/measurement information. Directions for use, promotional/marketing statements do not have to appear in French.
This information is generally not checked upon import and, for better or worse, many private label sellers do not adhere to these labeling requirements.
For more information see here: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/01248.html
To sell on Amazon.ca, you can continue to use your American bank account and Amazon will simply convert the funds into US Dollars (normally with about a 3.5% commission. There’s no need to setup a Canadian bank account.
As an American, you cannot come to Canada to work without a Visa. There’s certain activities you can perform in Canada for business, like visiting an accountant, visiting a client, etc. In other words, you can sell your goods on Amazon.ca and essentially pay good Canadian employees to ship your products but you can’t open up your own warehouse and start shipping products yourself without getting the proper work visa.
And finally, a lot of Americans believe Canada is a national park located within the northern part of the United States. It’s actually not! Canada is a real autonomous country formed in 1867 with its very own Prime Minister (sort of like a President).
Things to be Aware Of
- Exchange rate is volatile
- Canadian duty rates are often higher than the U.S.
- No Amazon partnered Carriers going to Canada
- You need a Business Number to import anything ‘formally’ into Canada
- If sending UPS/FedEx etc. to Canada, make sure you send them DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) otherwise Amazon will reject the shipment
- Canada has Federal Sales tax (GST)
You can more or less charge the price you charge on Amazon.com, converted to Canadian dollars of course. In fact, you might even be able to charge more. However, the exchange rate is volatile. For example, in 2011 the Canadian dollar was actually worth more than an American dollar but in June of 2018 a single Canadian dollar is worth about $0.75US. You want to keep an eye on the exchange rate, if not monthly, then at least quarterly. We adjust our prices many times throughout the year to reflect changes in the exchange rate.
Canadian duty rates also tend to be 25-50 higher than in the U.S. (ignoring the 2018 China-U.S. trade war).
If you import goods from China into the U.S. and then re-export them to Canada you have essentially double paid duties for both Canada and the U.S. (it’s technically possible to file to get your U.S. duties back but the paperwork is very pricy).
Pro-tip: The country of origin of your products never changes. For example, if you import a widget from China to the U.S. and then import it into Canada, Canada still considers that widget “Made in China”.
Also, with Amazon, there are no partnered carriers for shipping your goods from the U.S. to Canada. You need to arrange shipping from the U.S. to Amazon.ca warehouses on your own.
You will also need what Canada calls a Business Number to formally import into Canada. It’s easy to file for though.
When you’re shipping to Amazon.ca FBA you must make sure that all duties and taxes are paid prior to arriving at Amazon.ca. With UPS and FedEx you can ship via “DDP” (Delivered Duty Paid) which will basically have these charges passed on to you and keep Amazon from rejecting your shipment.
Sales Tax and GST/HST
Canada has a federal sales tax that is called GST/HST. Compared to the U.S. it is extremely simple. Each province sets it’s GST/HST rate, there’s only 13 provinces/territories, and you remit everything on one form.
There are four exception for Amazon.ca sellers: Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba which have provincial sales tax (similar to sales tax in the U.S.). Not registering will not affect your ability to import into Canada or sell on Amazon.ca but you are supposed to collect these. Further, Quebec has a significant economic threshold of $30,000 that you may not exceed and Saskatchewan and Manitoba have a total population of less than 2.5million. For better better or worse, many international sellers never register to collect provincial sales tax.
You cannot and should not skip out paying GST/HST in Canada. Technically anything you ship into Canada needs a business number (there’re ways to get around it with UPS/FedEx which I address below) so there will be a record of anything you bring into the country. So this means, at some point, a Canadian Revenue Agency agent is going to see you shipping a lot of goods into Canada and never filing a GST return. At some point the Canadian government will track you down.
5 Easy Steps to Get Started Selling on Amazon.ca
Here’s the easiest way to get started selling on Amazon.ca.
- Send a small shipment to Canada – get your feet wet; Work it up to Pallets.
- List your products on Amazon.ca.
- Turn on Sponsored Ads for Canada!
- Monitor the exchange rate every month.
- Register for GST/HST.
Send a Small Shipment to Canada
As you probably did when you first started with Amazon.com FBA, you probably sent in a box or two of goods to test out FBA, and not a full 20′ container. The same goes for Amazon.ca. Send a box or two via UPS or FedEx to get your feet wet. The procedure is almost identical as sending to Amazon.com.
You will need to send your goods via UPS or FedEx or another service that allows you to be billed for any duties and taxes, also called DDP. Do not send via USPS. If you do Amazon will be asked to pay taxes when your product arrives and they will reject your shipment.
Pro-tip: In America, there is an $800 de minimis value (any orders less than this do not have to pay duties/taxes). In Canada this de minimis value is just $40.
List Your Products on Amazon.ca
When you sell your products on Amazon.ca you will need a new Amazon.ca professional account and you will also need to re-upload your products to Amazon.ca. Your inventory from Amazon.com does not transfer over to Amazon.ca. However, you manage your Amazon.ca from within one Seller Central account.
Your reviews from Amazon.com will transfer over until you get your first review on Amazon.ca
There’s also a few other settings like shipping that you need to set-up for Amazon.ca but the whole process should only take a few minutes.
Turn on Sponsored Ads
The first thing you should do once you get your inventory to FBA is start using Sponsored Products if you’re using them for Amazon.com. You will pay dramatically less than what you pay for Amazon.com (see our stats below – we’re paying just 0.2% ACoS!)
Monitor the Exchange Rate Every Month
When you price your products in Canada, you’re likely simply converting from U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars and maybe adding a bit of a cushion. Monitor this exchange rate on a quarterly or monthly basis as it will change and you should change your prices accordingly.
Setting Up a Canadian Business Number
If you’re sending goods up to Amazon.ca FBA via UPS or FedEx as a trial, you can likely avoid this requirement for your first couple of shipments. However, once you do any significant volume you need a business number.
If you’re sending anything that requires a customs broker to clear (i.e. you’re sending an LTL shipment) you will definitely need a Business Number. A business number is simply a number that you can use to collect/remit GST/HST and to import goods into Canada. It’s similar to the U.S. EIN.
Registering for a Business Number in Canada is quite easy. You simply need to complete a form RC1. As of this writing, this form needs to be either faxed or mailed in (there’s no option for non-residents to do it online). Once you fill it in, you’ll be issued a Business Number within 10 days. When you register for this business number you can also get your GST/HST and Importer numbers – this is on the RC1 form you fill out. There are simply checkboxes for each one.
Alternatively, your customs broker can register you for a business number for free or a nominal fee (under $500). Pacific Customs Brokers can help you with this (let them know that EcomCrew sent you).
The form is self-explanatory and should take no more than 5-10 minutes (when it asks for social insurance number, simply leave this blank). When it asks for your estimated taxable sales in Canada it’s wise to enter something below $100,000 as otherwise you will be required to prepay half of your estimated GST (The Canadian Revenue Agency will determine in your second year if you need to prepay a percentage of your GST/HST). One final note, if you’re registering as a corporation, submit a copy of your Articles of Incorporation with the form.
Pro-tip: If you want someone to set-up your business number and help with your sales tax filings you can contact David at Small Biz Pro – he has a lot of familiarity with non-Canadian sellers on Amazon.ca and can help you get set up for those who don’t want to self-register.
Hopefully this article has outlined my arguments for why you should be selling on Amazon.ca (as well as who shouldn’t be) and also how to get up and rolling. Since late 2015, Amazon.ca has been a significant driver of growth for my company and I think it can do the same for a lot of other companies seeking 10-20% sales growth.
Have you had any experience selling on Amazon.ca or other Amazon market places? Do you have any questions about selling on Amazon.ca? If so, comment below.
Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He’s also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.