UPS/FedEx Brokerage Fee – avoid scam (Canada)

Here is the legal way to avoid brokerage fee when importing goods from USA into Canada with courier companies like UPS, or FedEx, without driving hundreds of miles to the port of entry. CBSA officially replied that UPS forces customers to pay outrageous customs brokerage fees illegally.

When you want to order some goods for personal use from US into Canada, you want it to be delivered fast and cheap. It can be orders from eBay, and many other stores across US. Many eBay sellers do not deal with UPS anymore because of outrageous customs brokerage fees. Usually buyers face this fee only at the door, when package is delivered.

It is called C.O.D. (collect on delivery) invoice which includes duties and taxes for imported goods, and UPS customs brokerage fees and other UPS fees like collect on delivery fee, bill integrity fee, taxes on the fees and so on. This C.O.D. bill is usually about 50% of the item’s price! Of course duties and taxes must be paid, but it is usually from 5% to 15% for casual goods (no alcohol, or tobacco, or other goods for which duties applied) depending on the province.

When importers see the invoice to pay extra 50% of the item’s price thay order, some of them just refuse to pay, and item is shipped back to the seller. The sellers do not like this as well as importers, and ship items with more expensive and pretty slow USPS mail service. It goes through Canada Post to the addressee in Canada, and they charge $5 for customs clearance. But USPS delivery can take up to 6 weeks, and theirs delivery cost is higher than for UPS Ground.

Depending on the order’s price, UPS Customs Brokerage Fee varies up to 50%. For example, for the order of $40.01 the brokerage fee is $19.45 + tax, according to the table at UPS website.

If you still want to use advantage of pretty fast, guaranteed, and trackable UPS ground service to ship your imported goods from US into Canada,

You do NOT have to pay UPS brokerage fees!

I’m not advising you to use other courier services, like USPS, or driving hundreds of miles to the port of entry in order to clear items by yourself as UPS forces you to do, otherwise paying brokerage fees.

You do NOT have to be in the port of entry to clear your items!

I’ve ordered some auto parts from California, and UPS forced me to pay brokerage fees. They told that there is absolutely no ways to clear items by myself in local CBSA office other than port of entry. I have spent almost two months to investigate and escalate this issue with UPS and CBSA (Canada Borders Service Agency). Finally I got a call with apologies about the incident and official reply from CBSA which indicates the following:

You are allowed to self clear your personal shipments and pay any duty/taxes owing at an office other than where the goods are being held.

UPS SCS (Ground) was also incorrect to inform you that you had to present yourself at the office where the goods were located.

CBSA also advised me that they are going to inform courier company and CBSA offices to ensure they are aware of the proper procedures.

There are local CBSA (Canada Borders Service Agency) offices in GTA (I’m located in Toronto) where you can pay applicable duties and taxes for imported goods. There is absolutely no need to drive into Windsor or Fort Erie to clear your items. There are also a lot of CBSA offices across Canada, so you most likely may choose one which is pretty close to you.

Here is the way how to avoid UPS brokerage fees:

(Important note: this information is outdated, please see update as of October 17, 2010 below for required list of documents, according to which commercial invoice is not required by CBSA. That list is final and allowed to self clear many shipments successfully)

  • Place your order at US store with UPS delivery option
  • Print out your commercial invoice (PayPal invoice, or e-mail receipt from the store). You may want to make sure that shipper will put the correct price on the package for customs (just send them a note about it)
  • Wait for item to be shipped and get your tracking number
  • Call UPS, give them tracking number and tell that you want to clear your items by yourself in your local CBSA office. They should instruct you what you will need to do

Note: this mechanism can be only applied for Low Value Shipment program (LVS),when order’s price does not exceed $1600 CAD. In case of more expensive goods you will need to present yourself at the port of entry to clear your goods, or find a broker to do this for you.

If for any reason UPS still tells you that you can not clear items by yourself in local CBSA office, and you must go to the port of entry in order to pay duties/taxes – it is illegal! Insist on your rights. Tell that they violate the law. Mention that there is an official reply from CBSA. If you get the refusal from UPS, write down the name of the person you talked to, time, and phone number you called in. Please describe your case to me and I will forward it to the person in CBSA who investigated my case and replied to my inquiry. I’m not posting his contact information here to avoid spam. He advised to contact him if this issue is repeated again.

I believe that it should be applied not only to UPS, but to all other courier services. For example, FedEx brokerage fees must be avoided in the same way.

Updated information as of October 17, 2010.

Canada Customs (CBSA) officially replied and provided procedure of self clearing process which UPS, CBSA offices, and importers should follow:

How to pay duties and taxes for imported goods

If you are planning to have future shipments sent to you by courier from outside Canada, you do have the option of refusing the accounting services offered by the company, choosing instead to clear the goods yourself through your local CBSA office. If you choose to do this, you will not incur any brokerage fees. The two options available to you are the following:

1. Prior to receiving your shipment, you can contact the courier company and inform them of your wish to self-clear any shipments that are addressed to you and on which brokerage fees are applicable. The company will explain their procedures to you.

2. As an alternative, when a casual shipment is delivered to you, you can refuse delivery and advise the courier company of your intention to self-clear directly with the CBSA. In this case, please ensure that you take note of the unique shipment identifier number on the package, as the shipment will be returned to the courier’s warehouse.

With both options, you will need to visit your local CBSA office and provide them with specific details, including the courier’s name, the unique shipment identifier number, a description of the goods and their value so that the CBSA can correctly assess the goods. This information is usually indicated on the shipment’s invoice, which will be provided to you by the courier company. When you have paid the applicable duties and/or taxes to the CBSA, you will be given an official receipt indicating that the goods have been accounted for. You will need to present this receipt to the courier’s warehouse where your shipment is stored, in order for the courier to release your shipment to you.

Thank you for contacting the CBSA.

Internet: (

Canada Border Services Agency

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0L8

Government of Canada – Gouvernement du Canada

(Some personal information has been omitted, and CBSA e-mail address also to avoid spam. Some key phrases has been highlighted by editor, not by CBSA)

We may conclude, that in order to self-clear goods in local CBSA office we need following:

The final and proven way of how to avoid UPS brokerage fees:

– Courier’s name: UPS

– Unique shipment identifier number: UPS must provide

– Shipment’s invoice: UPS must provide

– Place where the package is being held

Let’s stop UPS outrageous behavior and lawlessness, and force them to obey the simple law and allow importers to self-clear without paying brokerage fees!

Tell about this procedure to all people who use UPS (or other couriers with high brokerage fees) to import goods from US into Canada! If UPS will hear about it from importers hundreds/thousands times per day, they will definitely start to use new procedure.

The exact procedure of self-clearing with scanned documents is given here:

How to self clear shipment at CBSA and avoid UPS brokerage fee

562 thoughts on “UPS/FedEx Brokerage Fee – avoid scam (Canada)”

  1. I had no idea! I just recently had a similar experience with UPS. On a $75.00 purchase before shipping they charged $65.00 on top of the $10 duties & taxes on my credit card! Can I get them to still refund me the money so that I can call CBSA myself to pay for the duties and taxes directly? I purchased a bedding set for $75.00 and got two free pillows with the purchase. But since the pillows were originally priced at $99.00 normally they charged me for the cost that the pillows would have been even though I got them for free. Huge Scam, I’m so mad at myself.

  2. wow. followed these instructions and surprisingly UPS was more than happy to accommodate me in self-clearing my package. After speaking with the CBSA they directed me to visit their facility closest to me that handles LVS. I showed up and the agents working were absolutely clueless. I was instructed that they cannot provide me with a B15 form because I do not have the goods that I ordered with me. I showed them the receipt from the sender as well as the commercial invoice. “these are just pieces of paper” I was told. I needed to have the item I ordered with me physically. I asked the border officer how I could possibly have the item in my possession if duties haven’t been paid on it yet? “not my problem” I was told. I left defeated and called UPS to schedule another delivery for my item, much to my surprise they waived the brokerage fees. woohoo. such a headache but i’m finally getting my package without having to pay an arm and a leg.

  3. Called USA’s USPS at 1-800-742-5877 and got the invoice. It’s important to not mention about self-clearing and just ask for the invoice. Otherwise they’ll keep transfering you around with the calls disconnected at the end for no reason.

    Once you get the invoice, you need to print out two copies and take them with you to a CBSA office along with a photo ID. The location I was referred to go to by CBSA is They open 24 hours. They’ll keep one copy and you take the other copy with their notes to the cashier window in the same place to pay the fees. After the payment, they’ll stamp that copy and give it back to you along with a receipt. The stamped copy is what you’ll take to UPS to get them to release your package.

    My package was worth 100 USD and UPS was charging me 58 bucks for COD. I only paid 16 bucks to clear it myself.

  4. Received a call from the UPS brokerage dept regarding a shipment foe a gift valued at $19.99. Told
    D there+would be no fee. Had already paid $26.13 in shipping fees.
    When the parcel was delivered there was a brokerage fee of $22.80.
    I have contacted UPS and they insist there is a brokerage fee.
    Never again will I use UPS

  5. So frustrated – UPS has told me in no uncertain terms (repeatedly) that I CANNOT self clear my shipment without going to the port of entry in Winnipeg. They are refusing to provide me with any documentation/invoice for my shipment to even attempt to self clear it, stating that they “don’t have access to the documents I require.” What more can I do?

  6. Thank you so very much for this very valuable information! I just called UPS and informed them I will be clearing my package myself. I am located in British Columbia. Enough is enough with outrageous fees from UPS. My total invoice invoice for my USA order was only $44 (including shipping) and UPS sent me brokerage invoice for $33.85. Outrageous! To think of all the money I wasted paying UPS for brokerage on numerous past orders – I only wish I found your site earlier. Thank you so much! Have a great holiday and may God bless.

  7. I operated a small mail order business years ago before the new online internet businesses became possible. But I had to order in critical “sub-components” from New Jersey in batches (around $25 each)…..

    Unfortunately the supplier was tricked into using UPS exclusively….which is when the trouble started….. Subsequent $25 shipments arrived by UPS with a tacked on $50 flat rate brokerage fee in addition to the typical US Customs/exchange/duties etc.

    End result was that I had to shutdown my business…..
    The excessive fees imposed by UPS (acronym often confused by many as USPS) was IMHO ipso facto, parcel extortation.

    These days I purchase most international item directly from Singapore, HongKong and other Asian cities w/o any duties and virtually no exchange or shipping charges….. saving typically 65 to 75% compared to same items going thru the infamous US import hub for all North American businesses.

  8. I suspect this is why FedEx has started mailing you the bill for the brokerage… I have had this up to 2 months after I received the item which means I had no chance to go to the CBSA to clear the item myself… something has to be dine about these ridiculous charges… such a rip off!

  9. Hi Alex,

    Since you’ve already paid taxes, please tell it to UPS mentioning that double taxation is prohibited in Canada.


  10. Through this process, I paid $150 to CBSA instead of $270 to UPS. However, a couple days ago (approx one month after the delivery etc.) received an invoice from UPS for $270! I am concerned they will send collections after me and ruin my credit score. Could anyone give me some advice on how to proceed?

  11. Hello,
    I am wondering if there is anything I can do regarding my shipment through Aramex. They have been contacting me through emails and call to notify me that I have to pay for:
    Custom brokerage fees on top of the GHS Duty MFN Rate (is this Canadian duty charge?) and GST. Is there any way I can avoid the brokerage fee?
    Does CBSA accept calls as I would like to get clarification before I make an hour drive to clear the parcel?
    Thank you in advance!

  12. Cleared auto parts myself recently here in Calgary. The CBSA office it by the airport on Aero Drive.

    UPS wanted $79.xx for clearing the item, but in the end I paid $13.xx clearing it myself. That’s a $65 difference.

    I called UPS, said I want to clear the item myself, buddy on the phone said “It’s already cleared.”, I said; “I don’t really care, I didn’t ask you to.”.
    He put me through to their brokerage department they sent me an email with all the pertaining paper work.
    Went to CBSA office and it took me all of 10 min,
    Wen’t to UPS and picked up the item without paying a dime to those goons.

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