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: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/)

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

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

  1. Picked up my package today.

    Purchased an item from the U.S., Cdn value approx. $115.

    When I called UPS to find out what the cost would be upon delivery, they told me it was not yet finalized but would be approx $56. I told them I would self-clear the item then. The initial UPS customer service person was cooperative, but really didn’t know what they were doing. The next person was a real winner (sarcasm). I was getting the old, I have to go to Windsor to avoid various UPS fees. I set her straight multiple times, but she told me that she has been doing this for a long time. I told her then she has been doing it wrong for a long time. She finally sent me the commercial invoice, but she was a bitter unhappy person.

    Once my item was in Canada I had it redirected to the UPS warehouse. I contacted two more customer service individuals, that basically didn’t have a clue. One was co-operative & redirected me to someone from their brokerage side. Finally, someone that knew what they were doing & was very helpful. She told me they no longer call it self clearing, but “self accounting” & that someone would contact me within 24 hours with the procedures to follow with the CBSA.

    Within 24 hours I had someone contacting me asking for my email. They sent a copy of the commercial invoice & a “Casual LVS Self Accounting Procedures” form. This had the instructions with respect to the CBSA & what to do with the B-15 & the procedures document that was also to be stamped by the CBSA.

    It took about 5 mins in the CBSA, taxes paid $11.00. Returned home, sent the stamped B-15 (taxes paid receipt) & stamped Casual LVS Self Accounting Procedures form back to the email indicated on the form. I was told that once the COD tag was removed by accounting I could pick up the package. An hour later I had a call telling me my package was ready for pick up.

    When I got to the warehouse, the person brought out the package & told me I owe $56. I told him no & that the COD tag should be removed. He called some number, 5 minutes later, they told him I owed zero & gave him some case number to use to verify the removal of the COD tag.

    UPS is really disjointed. I honestly think they purposely leave customer service misinformed. That way their ignorance or misinformation can fool or frustrate someone into paying all the fees. Even in my case, my time is of value, driving to CBSA & UPS warehouse costs time & money. But this was more of, I didn’t care who got that money, so long as it wasn’t UPS. Next time would be easier, but there won’t be a next time.

    End of the day, I paid $11 instead of $56. Thanks to this site & individuals giving their experiences.

  2. I had my parcel with ups, as they left notice at my door with 125$ to pay as a brokerage fee plus customs and duties. This parcel is from Asia as gift, includes all personal items like dresses some old and new , sent from my parents. They put the value for those belongings about 250$. Now today ups asked me to pay them about 125$ to get that parcel. This is too much. Honestly all those items are purely for my kids , no commercial value or purpose at all. What should I do.

  3. Hi, My package is still in transit & won’t be in Canada for about 4 more days. Would I be able to bring the “commercial invoice” to CBSA before it arrives & advise UPS when I have the B15. That way, the paperwork could be done ahead of time, or do I wait until it arrives in Canada. By UPS tracking, it says the item is already in Mississauga, but the person from UPS says it is still in the U.S. in transit & only the processing paperwork is in Mississauga.

  4. I ordered photography item from the US and it was shipped through UPS. They charged me over $100 in duties which was approximately half the value of the item. I contacted Customs Canada and found out there was no duty on that item. It took over a year of constant calls to UPS before they agreed to refund my money. Despite their mistake and the ordeal they put me through they did not apologize. Shortly after, they started leaving me messages asking for copies of my receipts as they had lost theirs. Taking a page from their playbook I ignored their calls. Then they tried to entice me to call them by leaving me messages stating that I should call them because they may owe me more money. Knowing that wasn’t true I continued to ignore them. Then they started leaving me threatening messages that they would take legal action if i didn’t call them. I never did and I never heard from them again. To this day I will not order anything that ships with UPS.

  5. I sent documents from Pakistan to Canada and paid shipping fee in cash. Now UPS sent an invoice to receiver for brokerage charges 100 CAD for an envelope containing documents. Whats wrong with UPS?

  6. I had a part for my RV shipped to me free and free shipping when UPS came to the door it was cod for $44.38 brokerage fees but know mention of fee until it was delivered. It turned out to be the wrong part so I called the supplier they said they would check it out and get back to me. Two days later I get a e-mail from UPS telling me a parcel was to be delivered the in two days in one day I get an update on delivery also to tell me brokerage fees of $44.25 when delivered so that’s a total $88.63 and still the wrong part. Since then I have found out the part is only worth under $30.00 . Complained to UPS you get nowhere.

  7. Thanks so much for this information. I purchased US$84 worth of hobby supplies from a US merchant and paid US$30 for UPS WORLDWIDE EXPEDITED service. Duty/tax amounted to CD$15. What a shock when the UPS delivery person demanded CDN$54 at my door! Great to know I can pay directly to CBSA and cut out UPS altogether. :)

  8. I made a shipment back to Vancouver from San Francisco using Fedex, I specifically written on the waybill that, as goods to follow, I have to clear custom myself. When the delivery guy ring my bell, I’m not at home and told them I have to clear custom myself, and the guy told me it was cleared already, and there is no custom entry fee to pay. When the finally deliver to me, I ask the guy again, and the answer is no. Six weeks later, today I receive an invoice for C$50.75 + tax brokerage fee …

    I’m going to dispute it with them but since it’s already six week, chances of a easy solution is slim, and I prepare to pick it up with BBB (better business bureau) in case it fail.

    BTW, I found they now put this in their waybill, which can be a trap to those who ship goods themselves, the term read “Fedex International Ground shipment will be cleared buy our in-house broker,. The shipper is responsible for clearance entry fees.”… and they didn’t collect it, give you and estimate, or tell you on the spot when you ship. I actually ask the girl about this issue and she said it’s Canadian side business, she don’t know, but I she didn’t aware that I, as shipper, has to pay anything except the shipping charge.

  9. UPS is wanting $15 in brokerage fees on a package valued at $10 that I ordered with a coupon that made the package free. These contents are product samples made in the United States and, to my knowledge, are covered under NAFTA. UPS’s fee is 150% of the original (before coupon) value of my package. No thanks UPS, return to sender.

    Thanks Trueler for the article. I will definitely be self-clearing my parcels from now on!

  10. I am being told by fedex that they will not allow self clearance on packages unless they are Toronto bound. They say that packages are cleared in the U.S. and therefore I MUST use fedex trade networks to clear the packages. They implied if CBSA knew it was fedex ground, and not some other fedex ship method that they would agree.

    My last two packages via UPS I have cleared myself without issue. So thanks for these guidelines

  11. Hello

    1) 12.07.2016 UPS attempts to deliver my parcel and since I wasn’t home that day the delivery man left a notice. On that notice UPS claims $CAD182.14 for brokerage customs taxes and duties and so on.
    2)I called UPS customer service to ask if I could clear customs and duties by myself. I received all the documentation regarding that matter.
    3) I went to the nearst CBSA office located in Montréal to clear the duties and taxes then I went to UPS head office in Montreal located in Lachine to hand the papers to the clerk at the reception dock. They told me that my package will be delivered the following day free of charge.

    4) 13.07.2016 : The following morning I called UPS again at 8:45 am to confirm that my package will be delivered without any charges. I.ve been told : YES SIR IT WILL.
    The delivery man showed up a 2nd time and insisted that I pay $CAD182.14. I tried to explain him my story and in the meanwhile he nodded and left.
    5) I called UPS again to know what was going on and that I wanted to filed a complaint. I was told that they’ll call me back within 1 hour. No one never did call me back that day.
    6) I faxed all the documents and filed a complaint via USPhelp E-mail.
    7) No one e-mailed me back
    8) I am afraid my parcel will be return to sender yet I’ve paid the duties and taxes for an item I’ll never be able to see. Outrageous. I consider this as a scam.

  12. This is outrageous. This company is a complete SCAM!
    I will not use them ever again and I know 2 big manifacturies that uses them ( my uncle and his partner ) and I will definitely make phone calls and block business with them. I rather support the couriers than these ass wipes.

  13. Since posts are still being made..

    The first time I tried to self-clear a UPS shipment (I’m in Calgary), they told me if I wanted to self-clear, I would need to do it at the Port of Entry, Richmond, BC.. This was last summer.

    That was a fun adventure..

    Little more experienced now.. Also discovered, depending on the CBSA agent working, if you can do the paperwork after the shipment is local, or just somewhere in this country.

  14. UPS wanted cod 75 bucks for taxes and bokerage fees on a 55 dollar item i bought that had 50 bucks shipping charges as well… and i was like WHAAAAAT?!

    UPS cannot collect brokerage fees/ the COD if you have cleared it yourself. They just submit the paperwork back of payment to the cbsa as proof of cleared purchase. So here is what i did and it worked…

    So Step 1 was i refused delivery and requested to hold until i return, they said they could hold it for 5 days.

    Step 2, I went to CBSA… There is one at my local international airport….i had my invoice, my gst number, some ID, the UPS tracking number and the B3 form filled out (not as completely as i thought but close)..

    in order to fill out a B3 form you must have a RB business number not just an RT…. however they informed me if its only a few items they can enter into the computer there on a B15-C form. They did it and i paid the tax….a whopping $3.86

    took my reciept and presented it to UPS as the goods were self cleared, they took a copy of it and handed me my package and said have a good day.

    Easy peasy lemon squeezy

  15. For anyone in a border city… I live in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and there is a trucking company on the American side that allows deliveries to be made to their address for pickup. You can then drive across or get someone to drive across and pick up your package and clear it yourself as you normally would when going across the border.

    I used to work for a local delivery company and at that time they would do cross border pickups for a small fee of course + border tolls/taxes.

    They would cleay the item for you… no brokerage fees.

    If there is a Mailboxes Etc. outlet in your cross border city you might be able to ship to their office in the US. You’ll need to ship it in the name of the person who is picking it up as ID is required.

    Then you or the person picking it up can clear it at customs.

    I have not tried Mailboxes Etc. personally so please do some investigating.

    The trucking company said I just needed to first notify them of my intent to use their address so that they were aware of it’s expected arrival and that when the order was made tell the shipper to ship to “Your Name” CO/ “Shipping Company Name”

    Hope this helps anyone out there that may be having UPS issues.

  16. Whoops – I forgot to look them up under their business name, which IS listed — I take it back!
    In the meantime, since I ordered my high-value item for my business, I am going ahead with obtaining an import/export number and clearing it myself which I can do apparently as a commercial shipment. Still horrid paperwork though…

  17. I just got a $56 bill for a $117 product I bought out of the USA. I received the product last month, so I can’t even refuse delivery now because the bill just was received in the mail today. Do I have any options here? I’m assuming I can’t self clear the item anymore? 6 kids t-shirts shouldn’t cost so much for shipping

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