Canada Post for Small Business: Contract or Non-Contract Shipping


With the growing need for on-demand and fast delivery of online products, many eCommerce businesses stress over the entire shipping process. Minimizing the time and cost of sending packages across the country and beyond can seem daunting, but Canada Post (as well as other shipping carriers) tries to make it as streamlined as possible. They offer many Web Services for eCommerce brands to utilize on their website to simplify the shipping process.

One of these services is known as Contract Shipping, which means you’ve entered a partnership of sorts with Canada Post to efficiently send packages. The choice of contract or non-contract shipping offers an even more customizable opportunity for eCommerce brands.

When signing up with Canada Post small business, you have the choice whether you want to incur contract or non-contract shipping – but what do they really mean and which one is best for your business?

Contract Shipping with Canada Post: Explained


Contract Shipping with Canada Post is a commercial contract between your business and their shipping carrier services, which allows you to automatically print and ship parcels without the need to purchase individual or even bulk shipping labels. Instead, you pay monthly based on the number of parcels that have been shipped. With contract shipping, busy businesses can manage and process shipments using the Shipping and Manifest services to label and send out parcels for delivery.

With Contract Shipping, you must create a mandatory manifest with every shipment or group of shipments. This is done after you request the shipping label and trigger billing to Canada Post. The manifest is printed and sent to Canada Post with your shipments.

Contract Shipping customers do get discounted rates on shipments, but there are more steps to follow when completing the shipment process. Most of these steps are done automatically when working with a shipment automation software such as PluginHive, so they don’t become an issue and are worth the extra bit of work in order to meet commercial shipment demands.

There are specific steps in the Contract Shipping process that are mandatory. These are: Once shipping info and delivery rates are entered either manually or automatically into the database, a shipment is created. From there, the shipping label can be printed and billing info is triggered to Canada Post, the mandatory Manifest is then retrieved and must be printed and included in the shipment. That’s it.

There are multiple “calls” available for Contract Shipments, including optional steps, as described by Canada Post. These are:

Create Shipment
Used to create a new shipping item, to request the generation of a softcopy image of shipping labels, and to provide links to these shipping labels and other information associated with the shipping item.

Get Shipment
Used to retrieve the same links originally provided by create shipment (used for recovery).

Get Artifact
Used to retrieve the rendered label(s) for a shipment created by a prior “create shipment” call. It can be called more than once to reprint a spoiled label. Once you have printed the shipping label, you must complete the shipment process by creating a manifest. See Manifest Service below.

Get Shipment Price
Used to retrieve the shipment pricing in XML format for a shipment created by a prior “create shipment” call.

Get Shipment Receipt
Used to get settlement information in XML format for a shipment where no manifest is required that was paid by credit card. The data in the response can be formatted to print a credit card receipt.

Get Shipment Details
Used to retrieve the shipment details in XML format for a shipment created by a prior “create shipment” call.

Get Groups
Used to retrieve the list of unique group-id codes associated with a customer (or mailed-on-behalf-of customer) for which there are shipments created that have not yet been transmitted.

Get Shipments
Used to retrieve links to all shipments associated with a specific group or manifest.

Void Shipment
Used to indicate to Canada Post that a printed label has been spoiled or cancelled and that it will not be used and should not be transmitted or billed.

Request Shipment Refund
Used to request a refund for a shipment that has already been transmitted and for which a label has been printed, but is spoiled and will not be used.

What Does Canada Post Non-Contract Shipping Option Mean?


If your small business chooses not to sign up for Contract Shipping, this means that you will have to individually purchase shipping labels. Considered a Solution for Small Business users, Non-Contract Shipping is a somewhat easier way to ship and is more often used when fewer shipments are made each day. There are fewer steps required than with Contract Shipping.

With Non-Contract Shipping, a manifest is not needed. Instead, the business creates a new non-contract shipment with each new shipment and then prints the shipping label. Small business owners can still request tracking information and provide this to their customers. All payment is authorized each time a new non-contract shipment is made.

Basically, there are two mandatory steps: creating the non-contract shipment and retrieving the shipping label for printing.

There are multiple “calls” or requests available to be made, including optional ones, in regard to Non-Contract shipping to Canada Post. As described by Canada Post, these are:

Create Non-Contract Shipment
Used to generate and pay for a shipping label, including validation and payment authorization.

Get Artifact
Used to retrieve a pdf of the shipping label created by a prior Create Non-Contract Shipment call.

Get Non-Contract Shipment Receipt
Used to retrieve XML details regarding the shipment paid for in the Create Non-Contract Shipment call.

Get Non-Contract Shipment Details
Used to retrieve XML details about the shipping label, including system-generated values such as the tracking number and final shipping point.

Get Non-Contract Shipments
This call invokes a search for previously created shipments. It is used to recover from communication failures or hardcopy print failures.

Get Non-Contract Shipment
Used to retrieve the label and receipt information for a previously created shipment. Typically used after a Get Non-Contract Shipments call.

Request Non-Contract Shipment Refund
Used to request a refund for a shipment /label that you created in error. You can only request a refund for a shipment that has not been sent and has no scan events associated with the label.

Whether you require a commercial Contract Shipping option for your business, or you prefer to sign up for Small Business Solutions and use Non-Contract Shipping, be sure to make the best decision for your business needs. Either way, using a shipment automation solution providers, like PluginHive, is required to integrate Canada Post’s Web Services into your website, including the steps required to request either a contract or non-contract shipping label.

Reach out to PluginHive’s customer support team to learn more about how to integrate PluginHive into your eCommerce website.