Instacart has a strong presence in the U.S., with operations in over 5,500 cities and hundreds of thousands of shoppers. But is the company’s claim to be the “leading online grocery platform in North America” limited just to the States?
Is Instacart in Canada as well? Can our neighbors to the north also partake in Instacart’s convenient grocery delivery service? Here’s what you need to know!
Is Instacart in Canada In 2023?
Instacart went international when it expanded into Canada in 2017 and 2018, beginning with two cities and 17 stores. Soon after, its presence grew to 200 stores in 10 different cities. Its initial partners were Loblaws and Walmart, but now Instacart boasts over 40 retailers in hundreds of cities in 2023.
To learn more about when Instacart came to Canada, what cities currently support Instacart delivery/pick-up, what retailers you can expect to find on the marketplace and more, see below! I’ve got all you need to know.
When Did Instacart Come to Canada?
In September 2018, just six years after its founding out of San Francisco, CA, Instacart began a major pilot testing of the Canadian market.
Beginning in just two cities, Toronto and Winnipeg, the delivery experiment focused on Walmart Canada as its main partner.
(This is in addition to the earlier 2017 partnership Instacart began with the Canadian chain Loblaws Supermarket.)
Just a month shy of its one-year anniversary in Canada, Instacart announced it was expanding its presence to include provinces like British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
The company reported that demand for Instacart grew “more than 150 percent year-over-year.”
By 2021, Instacart had grown to reach 90 percent of Canadian households, with over 40 retailers in 2,400 different stores on its marketplace.
Where Is Instacart’s Headquarters in Canada?
For its Canadian operations, Instacart maintains an office in the city of Toronto.
This makes sense, as it was one of the first cities to support Instacart operations, back when they began in 2017.
Located in the Liberty Village neighborhood, the building was once a carpet factory, and now houses over 200 employees.
Of those 200, 80 percent are actually part of the engineering department.
You can see a video here with a tour of the beautiful Toronto office.
What Cities Are on Instacart in Canada?
Instacart Canada hits all the major cities, like Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Montreal.
However, the grocery app’s reach now constitutes 90 percent of Canadian households, so even if you don’t live near any major cities, chances are good that you have access to Instacart.
Instacart Canada has this helpful landing page, where you can browse the list of available cities, organized by province.
Also, you can simply enter your Postal Code in the box at the top of the page to see if your address is eligible for delivery.
What Stores Are on Instacart in Canada?
As in the U.S., there are a diverse group of retailers on Instacart’s marketplace in Canada.
In fact, it’s slightly more diverse in terms of product type than in the U.S.
Naturally, you can find major grocers like Walmart Canada, Loblaws, and Costco.
However, there are also retailers like Sephora Canada (make-up), H&M (apparel), Mastermind Toys, and Indigo (books).
Another early partner was actually Staples, the office supply and equipment chain.
To find out what retailers are available for delivery and/or pickup in your area, the best course of action is to enter your postal code in the Instacart app.
How Much Does Instacart in Canada Cost?
Instacart in Canada is pretty much the same as in the U.S. when it comes to the cost of using the service.
Same-day delivery on orders of $35 or more starts at $3.99, and fees are calculated based on the items in your cart.
In Canada, essential-type grocery items aren’t taxed (provided they aren’t junk food), and Canadians won’t pay tax on them via Instacart, either.
Just as in the U.S., Canadian households who find themselves using Instacart more than three times a month could benefit from Instacart Express.
Membership with Instacart Express nets customers free unlimited delivery for orders over $35, free pickup (usually over $10, but it varies), and reduced service fees.
It costs just $10/month or $99 per year.
Is Instacart More Expensive in Canada?
Canadians, whose grocery prices already tended to be more expensive than in the U.S., are angry with Instacart because of its markups.
The Canadian CBC Marketplace conducted an investigation, and found that customers using Instacart were paying about 10 percent more than in-store prices.
However, in the U.S., markups tend to hover around 15 percent (sometimes as much as 23 percent), and the retailers are transparent about it.
Unfortunately, this is just sticker shock, as many Canadians experience Instacart for the first time.
The savvier they become with the service, the less likely the markups will faze them moving forward.
Can You Use Your US Instacart Account in Canada?
If you have a U.S.-based Instacart account, but find yourself in Canada and in need of groceries, you’re in luck: you can use your account in a different country.
You don’t have to create an entirely new account to use the grocery delivery app in Canada (or in the U.S., if you’re Canadian).
According to this thread on Reddit, where a young person asked just this question because they started attending school in Canada, you’ll have to “switch it to Canada mode.”
In this instance, it’s the app, and user u/mulk_the_hulk directs the OP to press on the three horizontal lines in the upper-left corner of the app.
This action will drop down the account menu; press on Account Settings.
The menu that appears should have (for Americans) “United States of America” nestled between Accessibility and EBT SNAP info.
Press on that flag logo, and the next screen gives you the option to switch to “Canada” mode (with its own little flag logo).
Now you can shop, using your U.S.-created account, anywhere Instacart operates in Canada.
Instacart has a strong foothold in Canada now, growing from just a few cities in 2017 to now more than 90 percent of Canadian households with access to the service.
Operations in Canada are staying close to the U.S. model so far, with delivery, service fees, and even item markups similar, if not precisely the same, as in the States.