Importing Perishables and Other Time Sensitive Shipments


To expedite your perishable or time sensitive shipment, please follow the steps listed below:

Ensure goods do not require an Import Permit;

If McMaster is responsible for clearing the goods through customs, ask the supplier to list “FedEx Trade Networks” as McMaster’s Canadian customs broker on their Commercial Invoice and waybill/bill of lading;

Ensure the supplier understands the relevant information that must be referenced on their Commercial Invoice as listed below:

  • Complete shipper name and address;
  • Complete receiver address including name, department, building, room number, phone number and extension;
  • McMaster University Purchase Order number (if applicable);
  • For credit card orders, the supplier must reference your 10 digit McMaster account number (research/departmental/pda) as the Purchase Order number;
  • Detailed description of the goods (part number or catalogue number not acceptable). The description must be detailed enough to classify the goods (i.e. mouse antibody, human protein);
  • identify if there are intellectual property considerations
  • Harmonized System (HS) tariff number for each item;
  • Quantity of Goods;
  • Fair Market Value of each item (excluding shipping and handling charges)
  • Currency;
  • Country of Manufacture;
  • NAFTA Certificate of Origin (if applicable).

Ask the supplier to ship perishables only on Mondays or Tuesdays to avoid customs delays over weekends.

Ensure the supplier includes enough refrigerant to maintain the temperature of the shipment during transit. Customs & Traffic recommends a minimum 5 kg of dry ice for shipments from the U.S. and 10 kg for all other international shipments.

Obtain the courier name, tracking number and ship date from the supplier so you can track your shipment either on-line or by calling the appropriate courier and requesting an update on the status of your package.

Visit the courier’s web site and track your shipment on-line to determine if there are any delays. Normally, clearance and delivery of goods is achieved within 48 hours from the arrival of the goods at the appropriate Canadian port. It is common to see the message “Regulatory Agency Clearance Delay” as the goods are waiting to clear customs. If clearance delays persist, contact the Customs & Traffic Division at extensions 23084 or 24358 for assistance. Please have available the tracking number, courier name, ship date, Purchase Order number (if applicable) and supplier’s name.

The Customs & Traffic Division has no influence with Canada Border Services Agency or other government departments with respect to the timing of customs releases. While our office can ensure all relevant paperwork has been submitted to customs, we cannot expedite the customs clearance process. It is important to plan ahead for your shipments and make sure you leave ample time for possible delays.

If goods are required for installation by a visiting technician, it is advisable that the goods are received by the university prior to the technician’s arrival. Please refer to the Business Visitors section on the Imports webpage.