5 Ways to Determine if Section 321 Fulfillment is Right for You

By Maggie M. Barnett, Esq. COO of ShipHero

High shipping and duty fees are a constant reality of our globally interdependent world. Finding ways to lower these costs, and therefore, increase revenue, is one of the biggest tasks for all eCommerce brands. Now, as inflation has become higher and there is little end in sight, finding ways to save is more important than ever.

We’re going to discuss Section 321, a provision from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows U.S. citizens to order goods duty-free from Canada (up to $800 USD per day). 

How can that help your business? Because, the duty savings isn’t just for the customer, it applies to the business too. Here’s the breakdown of Section 321 and the top ways to know if your brand is a fit for this cost-saving measure.

What is Section 321?

ShipHero began talking about the Section 321 program here, when we opened our first Canadian warehouses. It’s one of the best under-the-radar options for eCommerce businesses to save money. 

In layman’s terms, Section 321 is a provision from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that allows U.S. citizens to order goods duty-free from Canada (up to $800 USD per day).

Here’s how that can help a business like yours:

  • When you import goods to Canada, you will be qualified for a duty deferral or a duty drawback. In both instances, this means that once you send your products to a customer in the U.S., you will not need to pay duty fees on it (duty deferral). OR the Canadian government will reimburse any duty fees you’ve already paid (duty drawback).
  • This savings can easily add up to 20% of your total landed costs and can really make a difference in your company’s success.

So, what’s the catch? There is no catch, which is the best part. And the even better part is that once you are a ShipHero Fulfillment client, we handle all the logistics for you.

5 Ways to Know if Your Company is a Fit for Section 321 Fulfillment

It can seem a little complicated, so here’s a breakdown of 5 key ways to know if Section 321 Fulfillment  is right for your brand.

You already import to Canada and sell to U.S customers.

If you are already sending some or all of your inventory to Canada, and selling to U.S. customers, then you might be paying duty fees that you’re technically exempt from. Make sure that you are getting the benefits of Section 321 if you already ship products from Canada to U.S. customers.

You can decide to send some of your inventory to a Canadian warehouse and see just how much you could be saving. You can still fulfill from a U.S. location as well.

You need to save some money on shipping fees and taxes.

Taking advantage of Section 321 is easy – you just need to adjust your supply chain so that your inventory goes to Canada. You may qualify for a duty deferral, so that the duty fee is waived when the inventory is imported to Canada. Or once a U.S. customer places an order (for $800 USD or less), and that order is shipped, you’ll be eligible for a duty drawback. 

Here’s a possible savings example:

  • Import $12 pair of shoes to Canada
  • 18% Duty rate = $2.16 tax on shoes
  • Duty Elimination or Drawbacks save you $2.16 for just 1 pair of shoes!

Once you multiply that by 10 or 100 or 1,000, you’ll start to see the savings really add up.

You don’t sell or ship any of the items on the Section 321 exempt list.

There are some products that don’t qualify for Section 321. Here’s a rundown:

  • Goods needing inspection as a condition of release, regardless of value
  • Merchandise subject to Anti-Dumping Duty (ADD) and/or Countervailing Duty (CVD)
  • Products that are regulated by the following Participating Government Agencies (PGAs):
    • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with some exemptions
    • Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
    • National Highway Transport and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
    • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA)
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

You’re ready to diversify your supply chain.

If the opportunity of saving up to 20% on duty fees isn’t quite enough to entice you, there’s the very real fact that supply chains are still slow. By sending your inventory to Canada, you can help to diversify your distribution network and possibly alleviate some of those delays. 

You’re ready for partners you can rely on.

Besides the support of ShipHero’s Fulfillment team, we also partner with GHY, a Canadian-based broker that understands the nuances of Section 321 and most importantly, the paperwork.

And, we have partners like Flxpoint, who can make managing Section 321 easier. With their intelligent tracking capabilities, Flxpoint can automatically identify and re-route orders that qualify for Section 321. You can set parameters and preferences to determine how your orders are fulfilled. For example, if a U.S. customer orders less than $800 and that product can all be fulfilled from Canada, then Flxpoint will send the order to ShipHero’s Canadian warehouse, maximizing your savings and order profitability. (This assumes you are fulfilling from Canada and the U.S. or another location.)

Section 321 Can Make the Difference

With more competition and rising costs, eCommerce brands need to find the options that will bring them greater success. By taking advantage of Section 321, your brand can save real money, increasing your revenue and making it possible to reach an even higher level of success. 

To find out more about Section 321, click HERE. To find out more about ShipHero’s fully outsourced fulfillment solution, talk to one of our Fulfillment Experts today.

Maggie M. Barnett, Esq. COO of ShipHero


About the author: Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., is the COO of ShipHero. She is responsible for planning and executing the overall operational, legal, managerial and administrative procedures, reporting structures and operational controls of the organization. Barnett’s greatest strengths are leadership, risk mitigation, change management and a passion for business transformation. She is known for her expertise in delivering operational excellence and an ability to provide guidance and mitigating risk. Her leadership of ShipHero is grounded in a servant mentality, always doing the right thing for our stakeholders. Her passion for ShipHero comes from the ability to drive operational excellence throughout the organization impacting the lives of our employees, customers, and partners.

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