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

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

  1. I have never been so furious as I when I received my $25 human hair wefts, and had to pay $22 in duty! So, to get even with these greedy people, I wrote a check, and as soon as the delivery man left, I called my bank and had the check payment stopped. I also wrote a letter to the courier and the customs office, to let them know why I had stopped payment on the check. I haven’t had this happen since, and I still order from China and tell the seller to put “Human Hair” on the documents. I found out that most of the time the customs people don’t even open the packages, they just go by what is written on the documents.

  2. Hi,

    I ordered a jacket for my husband from Italy to US. I got a UPS slip saying that package required a COD of about $250. My husband had a bank check cut as requested and brought to the UPS facility to pick up the package but the worker that have it to him said that there was nothing due. At home we realized that the jacket was the wrong one and returned it via UPS the next day. Weeks later I start getting the $250 bill for customs. I don’t have the package! I sent it back. I called UPS and told them that. I even gave them the tracking # for the return. They’re still demanding payments due keep sending me bills with late fees. What do I do?

  3. hi~there.
    i need your help.
    i bought a phone from shop blackberry canada and i decided to return it after 1 week of received. Good thing is that they have 30 days money back guaranteed program. So I called in to blackberry canada and followed instructions. After, I shipped by UPS with paid for my return shipping, when I check my tracking number, it says such like “awaiting for clearing agency review/ and released by a clearing agency” even they delayed one more day of shipping. And Yesterday it says” the receiver doesn’t accept C.O.D.s and refused the delivery./ we’ll contact the sender or receiver about this delivery”
    and today i received a call from ups and saying need to pay $32.**. but receiver does not want to pay that or I have to pay, even I told her its return shipping of my purchase.
    And I called blackberry canada and told them about this and they said they will investigate on this.

    Is this like UPS scam??
    What should I do and how Should I do….I need your help. PLZ..

  4. Upthread someone noted that they didn’t think DHL charges exorbitant “administration” fees to clear international parcels. They DO. Yesterday I received in Toronto a parcel valued at $155 CAD from England. Small clothing items from Marks & Spencer’s. To this amount was takes on almost $66 CAD in duties (17% duty they noted plus HST and a $14.25 DHL admin fee). I can’t figure out how they arrived at $66 but whatever it is about 43% of the total value of my parcel.

    I am going to find out what delivery service amazon uk and John Lewis use so I can notify those couriers in advance to have my parcel sent to the CBSA for my clearing.

    I won’t deal with couriers for international deliveries ever again.

  5. I truly admire the lengths people here have gone through to do what’s right. I worked with a contractor who was part of developing Fed EX’s version of the brokerage fee scam. I know it’s deliberate, and they they do everything it their power to incur as much administrative overhead as possible so people will just give up.

    I buy a lot of musical gear, often from the USA (often the item I’m looking for is simply not available in Canada) – quite often off Ebay. If the seller won’t honor using USPS and Canada Post I won’t buy from them. It’s as simple as that. At some point you have to abdicate and ask “How much is my time worth?” – also, when buying Musical gear (as with anything else really) there is some excitement waiting for your package to arrive. Spending hours in lines up and driving to CBSA offices isn’t something I want to sully my purchasing experience with. I notice some of these posts as well as those on Ron’s Blog are rife with anger and emotion. Life is too short for that crap….

  6. ^ Hey David… they are called government employees…

    Having my go at shipping soon and we’ll see how it all goes.

  7. We left 2 items at a family member’s home in Vermont. He mailed them to us using UPS and placed a value of $20 on it. We were charged more than half that – $12.71 for brokerage fees.

    Is UPS allowed to charge this for used items that are “Canadian Goods Returned?” We did not order anything. We just had an old jacket and a binder with some photocopies returned.

    They are Canadian goods with a value of $20 Canadian, but UPS converted this $20 amount to Canadian dollars and charged even more.

  8. CBSA play dumb when I go to their offices as if they’ve never heard of self clearance, they then send you to various offices and claim you need various forms. They’re crooks and are obviously in cahoots with UPS.

    This is after UPS said they forwarded my details to CBSA and CBSA failed to get back within the 24 hour period twice, so days later I’m still trying to clear my package. They really are scumbag criminals.

  9. I learned my lesson to avoid UPS long ago, if a shipment is sent by UPS, I will simply get my item somewhere else…

    However, yesterday I tried ordering from Amazon.ca, an American seller; I looked everywhere for shipping method/company, it was no-where to be found… The shipping price seemed low enough to be USPS, so I ordered… Ooops, tracking notice etc in UPS. Package doesn’t appear to have actually shipped yet, so I’ll be attempting to cancel/change shipping method, otherwise I just won’t accept package…

    Bloody crooks, UPS…

    Is what you ordered absolutely necessary ‘now’? IF not, and it’s UPS return to sender/unopened/refuse…

  10. The UPS – string has been very informative and thanks to all who participated.
    I learned that the brokerage fees charged by UPS depend on the service provided. On a $700 US purchase – World wide Express Saver quoted shipping is $50.07 Ground $9.08. However based on the value of the package being sent the total cost including HST, brokerage and shipping ( NO DUTY) for the Saver is $178.24 of which brokerage fees is $10 and for Ground $209 of which brokerage is $82.05.
    So I will try the Saver and see what happens.

  11. Just did the above. Worked great.

    Bought some car parts online, totaling $250USD. COD fee was $90. Called UPS and asked for the commercial invoice to be emailed to me. Didn’t say anything about self clearing so the phone conversation took less than 2 minutes. Received the commercial invoice within 5 minutes. Took said invoice to the CBSA office (in person) and requested to self clear a package. Received the self-clearance receipt (the B15) within 10 minutes after having paid $24 GST on the items. I didn’t have to provide anything other than the commercial invoice (which has all the shipping and tracking info on it).

    When I called UPS to confirm my intent to self-clear was when they got confused. The person on the phone had no idea what I was trying to do. Instead of calling again and hoping to get someone who I could actually understand on the phone, I just went to the UPS warehouse. I presented my B15 to the UPS worker, who simply asked ‘does this waive the COD fee?’. To which I responded ‘yes, it does’.

    Walked out the door with the package and a spring in my step.

  12. I missed Fedex’s delivery attempt. I called them again, and this time the CSR told me they would waive the clearance fee of $10.50 since I requested to clear the item through customs on my own. All I have to pay is the GST, which works out to $3.12.

    The CSR also suggest I sign up for the Fedex Ship Manager account. He indicated it’s free to register, and there are no costs involved. Going forward, I won’t be subject to Fedex’s clearance fees either. I’ll just need to pay the customs fees.

  13. I recently ordered something only which shipped from Hong Kong via Fedex. The value on the parcel is $50USD, which converts to about $62-63CAD. Fedex called me the other day and indicated I owed $13.62 in fees. When I asked the CSR what the breakdown was, she indicated to me $3.12 was for GST and $10.50 was Fedex’s fee to clear the package on my behalf.

    Since the package hadn’t reached Canada yet, I instructed the CSR I would clear my own package through customs. She left a note indicating I was going to clear my own package, and pick it up from the depot.

    I just checked tracking, and it seems like they cleared it through customs even though I told them not to. Has anyone encountered a situation where you told them not to clear the package, and they did anyway? I’m willing to pay the GST, but not the fee for their clearance service. Will Fedex waive the fee because I told them I would clear the package myself, or will I still need to clear the item before they release it to me?

  14. Hi there, I just ordered a shipment from the U.S. To Hamilton. To my surprise at the door is a notice saying I missed them and on the bottom showed 37.01 charge for C.O.D. This is not stated anywhere on my purchase or was I aware this even existed till reading and investigating.

    I have ordered things online before and never had this issue. Most likely through canada post.

    I don’t want to return and pay shipping to send back when I just paid to get it here. Plus I still want what I ordered.

    But I’m really upset and don’t want to pay something that adds 40 dollars on to my bill.

    I should add I paid 57 dollars for shipping with my order. That makes it 100 for shipping!!!!!! That’s crazy my order was only 200 that’s half the cost!!

    What should I do. The package is here already and ups is coming tomorrow to try and deliver again.

    Not only that but I don’t even have cheques and to get a money order cost 12 dollars.

    And I won’t even be home tomorrow???? Please advise anyone

  15. This happens in the reverse. I ordered something from Canada into the US and I was caught with a brokerage fee too. I sent the package back and called the company I ordered it from and told them all about it.

    I just refused to pay and then was not around the other two times they tried to deliver it. I was not aware of this charge when I bought the items and it smacks of fraud. I told them to shove it.

    I will re-order and instruct the company NOT to use UPS or I will not purchase the item.

  16. Please Help!

    Back in January I ordered a clothes drying rack worth $190 CDN from the US. It was delivered by UPS and they wanted $71. in COD charges. I didn’t expect the charges to be that much, so I refused the delivery. Two days later the UPS driver comes back with the delivery. I ask him what’s up, and I ask if the company I had bought the item from sent it back to me? He said no. I then ask him if there are any charges owing. He says no. I figure this is weird, but accepted the delivery and signed his manifest.

    Three weeks later I received an invoice from UPS billing me for $71.00 COD charges.

    I thought this must be a joke, there is no way they can get away with that. So I ignored the bill.

    Then yesterday, I received a letter from a collection agency trying to collect the $71.00.

    How can UPS get away with fraudulently getting me to sign for a package I had refused? The driver blatantly lied to me about no charges being owed. WTF? This is outright straight up fraud!

    Please help! What are my options? (besides letting them extort the money from me?)

    Thanks, anyone.

  17. I ordered a lead acid battery from California. I noticed when I went to track it that it had flown over me here in TORONTO going from DETROIT to Fredricton where it sat waiting for some missing POWER OF ATTORNEY document which seemed way more serious than it needs to be. They probably hijack my shipment with that document THUS OWNING it themselves until I pay their fee. Then it get’s shipped to WINDSOR where it sits for several days awaiting CLEARANCE. I phone after 2 days to check and am given this rotten explanation about SELF-CLEARANCE not applying to music gear, even though it’s a battery. Makes sense. SO I said, let me check around for the best lowest brokerage fee. Instead I found your website and decided just to fight this hijacking. They quoted me for a $40 dollar u.s. item a $27 dollar cdn funds clearance fee + duties & taxes. I’m not even confident they’d notice it’s made in the usa with all usa parts and by a u.s. owned company. So I’m not even sure at this point that even though it’s supposed to be duty free, I’m thinking they still ring that up, yeah. What a rip off that whole order is.

    I’ve even got two more things from the same company just ordered thru ebay and on the way for about another $300 CDN funds & it cost 1 hundred fifty for the shipping, and only $150 to cover all 3 items, and at this point this $40 thing is gunna chew up $50 bucks. I’m sunk right there. game over. My stuff is gunna be sent back if I pay this outrageous fee, and I’ll either lose my stuff alltogether, or have to pay to send it back again pay the same shipping again and clear the package with the lying UPS again.

    crime does pay for these thieves, hey.

  18. I ordered a few hobby electronics stuff from a US retailer, items value approx $200, this morning UPS attempted to delivery but I wasn’t present at home, called UPS office they told there is COD receipt of $40.8 which the package, I asked for the details $26.8 was GST and rest in broker fee ($14) which I think is a fair deal I wont have to drive to CBSA or do any of the other stuff.

    UPS guy is expected to make another attempt tomorrow for delivery.

  19. Hello,

    I received a shipment from my cousin a couple of weeks ago and just received an invoice for the package today. The value of package was 1200 as my cousin is letting me borrow an item for my wedding day. FEDEX Paid $197 for taxes on my behalf and just sent me the invoice. I’m upset at the situation as I did not purchase anything. And therefore should not be charged tax.

    I’d appreciate any help. Thank you!

  20. Good day,

    I just received an invoice from FedEx for a parcel I had received in December. I have had many parcels come out of the states without any type of brokerage, this parcel was a value of $61.24 value and they are stating a $19.45 brokerage fee!!!!

    Am I done for because it was so long ago and I did not know about this at the time, or can something be done at this point???

    Appreciate the help!!

  21. Package arrived at door Feb 16, $208 in charges, 115.94 for Taxes (HST) and about $93 for brokerage fees… found this website, called UPS on the 16 they sent me all documents needed to self clear, Paid the taxes to CBSA, received the B-15 form and emailed that back to UPS. Though that was it, nope. They still wanted me to pay the Brokerage fee and taxes to them because they apparently have a lockout date which was conveniently Feb 10, the day the package arrived in my town. They brought it to the wrong address on the 10th and tagged it as wrong receiver. I found the driver on the 15 and had that corrected and they showed up on the 16th at my door. First attempt. I refused to pay the fees. So they say they paid CBSA the taxes on the 10th but they cannot prove it, they have no receipt, but I do, Lady last night fixed it and said I could pick it up today with no charges… Well, not a chance, still have to pay the taxes. They finally removed the Brokerage Fee yesterday and thought they removed the taxes yesterday but no such luck. Called CBSA about a refund Form B2G, they said they will not refund me the taxes because they nor I did anything wrong and the mistake was UPS’s fault and they should correct it. Still waiting on a reply… Also sent a few nasty posts to Twitter and got a reply from the and also waiting for a reply from the Social media customer support team…. screw UPS, never again. Not paying taxes twice, not happening

  22. I purchased an item from a US retailer and it was shipped UPS Standard.
    I contacted UPS this Monday (Feb 9) after I tracked the package online and it indicated: “The receiver must pay the duties or taxes due on the package.” UPS told me that the brokerage fee was going to be $92 CAD. When I told them I wasn’t going to pay they told me that I could perform a self clearance instead. They told me what I needed to do and to contact them after the first delivery occurred to obtain the necessary documentation.
    Today (Feb. 13) I tracked the order online and it showed the following: “Receiver’s customs broker has been assigned. The shipment is now released to move in transit.”
    So I contacted UPS to explain to them that I was doing the self clearing and that UPS shouldn’t have done so. The CSR told me that they will reverse what they did and that I could clear it on my own. But before they did that I asked if they could just wave the fee seeing how it was already cleared and would help me out. And they did! They noted it as a good will gesture and all I had to do was pay for the taxes.
    Being courteous and polite on the phone with CSR always helps.

  23. Here is my frustration story…

    We occasionally ship product into Canada from a large wholesaler in Bristol, Rhode Island (USA).

    I just contacted the supplier to inquire about FedEx Ground freight charges associated with shipping (2 medium sized boxes 20 lbs each) to Montreal and was told it would cost $140 CAD.

    I also inquired about shipping the same order to a U.S. freight forwarding company located 5 km from the border in NY; the cost … $30 CAD!

    Evidently, crossing the border and going the additional 41 miles (66 km) to Montreal costs an additional $100 CAD!

    The trip from RI to the Canadian border in NY is roughly 340 miles…how can FedEx justify the additional shipping cost?

    When I called FedEx, the nice agent had no explanation.To cap it all off, he indicated that the brokerage fee for my order ($360 CAD) would be an additional $48 – duties/taxes not included.

    There are more items shipped cross the CAD/US border than ever before; much more than in pre-911 days. Canada imports 80% of its merchandise from the US.

    Additional security at the border is clearly evident. More paperwork, more scrutiny for sure; however, I seriously doubt that the percentage of goods being inspected by border security agents has increased substantially to warrant these additional (exorbitant) shipping charges by couriers.

    FedEx, UPS (all major carriers) are now gouging clients with cross border shipping charges. Apart from the FedEx/UPS brokerage SCAM, major courier companies are now inhibiting the free-flow of goods across the border by charging exorbitant cross-border rates.

    Write your MP today and thank them and their border security bureaucrats for erecting this barrier to FREE TRADE and for increasing product prices.

  24. None of this is incompetince. From fees appearing when no other shipper charges them, the drivers specifically do not have phones so deliveries fail often, to then forcing me to drive to the airport to pick up my own package, this is a carefully crafted system to scam people out of as much money as possible.

    I order many many parts online. Only, and I do mean only UPS charges me extra once it is in their claws, and makes me drive an hour out of my way to pick up the package… and guess what, they’ve tried charging me extra for the pickup too.

    For all to read:
    FUCK YOU UPS!!!!

  25. Hi Trueler,

    I just wanted to thank you for your guide. I ordered a set of textbooks from the US which cost $300, the USP delivery charge was $45, but I figured its worth it. Imagine the surprise when I get a call from UPS saying I need to pay an ADDITIONAL $80 brokerage fee. Luckily, I stumbled on your guide and informed UPS I intend to pay CBSA myself. Seriously, I cant thank you enough.

  26. Hi,

    Thank you very much for setting this website up. My problem is not UPS though, but the CBSA officer at my local CBSA branch, who insists on sending me to the CBSA office at the port of entry.

    He says the code written on the documents that I received from UPS shows that I need to clear my personal (!) shipment in the CBSA office close to the port of entry. I’m located in downtown Vancouver, so instead of the CBSA office right around the corner (Main St) I would have to go to the CBSA office in Richmond! I don’t own a car, so that’s really not an option for me.

    I did show the CBSA officer your website but he insisted that I have to clear my personal shipment at the CBSA office close to the port of entry! Not only that, he also claims that for commercial (!?!) imports I would have been able to choose any CBSA of my liking!

    Would you be able to send me a copy of the original CBSA letter you have received by any chance? The one that states that “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”? That would be really super helpful!

    Thank you in advance and greetings from Vancouver,
    -Markus

  27. Geez! This UPS BS is still going on 4 years later???
    I just today refused to pay a $61.63 brokerage fee and to take delivery for $237 (incl. shipping) of goods shipped from Illinois. The driver told me it would be held in a warehouse here in Edmonton for a week. He gave me the warehouse address when I asked for it. Said nothing about alternatives like self-brokerage. Seller had even been asked NOT to send via UPS, but to use FEDEX instead. The latter hasn’t pulled this stunt on me yet!

  28. I’m just going through this today. Actually cleared my package yesterday at the CBSA office in Halifax. Called UPS right away to get the fax number to fax the B15 and the UPS rep on the phone outright lied to me. Said he received the information from CBSA directly and that I didn’t need to fax the form. Also told me the COD was lifted. Driver shows up at my door today with a COD in the amount of $114 for a $249 item. Showed the driver the form and he took it and folded it up with some other papers. I followed him to the truck and told him I will be needing that form back. At first he wasn’t going to give it back but I asked him for his ID number and stood behind his truck so he couldn’t back out of the driveway. When he seen me dialling my cell he quickly handed me the paper and I moved out of the way. Anyway, long story short I called UPS and requested the package be held at the terminal for pick up. The brokerage department does require a copy of the B15 or they will not release the package. Hopefully Friday I will leave there with my package.

    It’s frustrating that these big corporations can get away with gouging and our government does nothing about it. We have rights in this country!!!!

    Maybe this should be escalated to Twitter or TV. I’m sure W5 would love to get there hands on this story.

  29. @SamOttawa – that’s odd; the Victoria CBSA office isn’t listed under their Low Value Shipments Program, but they were certainly able to give me the B15 form and collect my money.

  30. My story so far:

    Purchased a $350 USD item from the US, seller shipped via UPS. The day it shipped, I called UPS to tell them I wanted to self-clear, and to ask about the process. They told me I had two options: 1) physically go to the border crossing in Vancouver (I’m in Victoria, so this would be a 5 hour trip with a ferry crossing), or 2) wait until the package arrives, inform the driver I want to do self-accounting, and send it back to the depot, then go to CBSA to pay the amount. However, they said #2 would not be possible if CBSA puts a “manifest” on the item, but that that isn’t likely.

    So, I waited for the item to arrive, make sure I made a copy of the waybill with the unique shipment ID, as well as the shipment invoice with the cost for duty. Went to my local CBSA office today. The officer there thought it was very strange that I didn’t have any other paperwork, as apparently there is a form UPS is supposed to send them. However, he did take my money for the taxes and gave me a stamped “B15” form for the item.

    I took that to the UPS depot, but they refused to release the item, saying I needed to fax the form to their brokerage department, and gave me the phone number. I called the brokerage department, and was told that UPS had already paid the brokerage charges on the item, so there would be a COD. I explained that I had said all along I would self-clear, and in fact had already done so, so there should be no COD. They said they would call “the port” (not sure what they’re referring to here, but presumably the same depot I was just at) and ask them to contact me within 24 hours to tell me how to send them my documentation.

    And now I wait.

    I wonder how much of this entirely predictable gong show is an intentional barrier to protect their exorbitant brokerage fees, and how much is simple incompetence.

  31. Success! Here’s my story.
    Went to CBSA office in Ottawa at 140 Thad Johnson ave.

    I gathered all the paperwork from UPS, I called UPS in 3 steps, first time to know who it was from. Second to get a copy of the commercial invoice, she emailed it instantly, very nice UPS lady. Third time to ask for Unique shipment Identification number, he wasn’t sure what I was talking about but after a minute he asked if I meant Shipment ID, I assumed it was what I was looking for (it was!), I also asked where the package was help he let me know it was on Moodie drive warehouse.

    Went to CBSA office, first the CSBA officer says I need a manifest, I told her that I didn’t think I needed it, she insisted and told me I needed to go see UPS to get it, but as she was pointing she mentioned they are located 10 doors away in the same building so I went to see UPS. The UPS lady was very nice, she looked it up and confirmed that I didn’t need themanifest, she contacted the CBSA office and told her that I didn’t need it because the package was already cleared. So that’s why you might need a manifest, it’s for if the package is not cleared (I assume).

    Went back to CBSA officer, she took my payment, stamped the commercial invoice PAID and gave me the B15, I went back to UPS 10 doors away in the same building and gave it to her, she called the headoffice asked for the package to be released for self-clearance grounds and reshipped.

    This was yesterday, she asked for it to be shipped today so I should be receiving it today.

    It was actually a very pleasant process, I didn’t need to argue with anyone (although UPS calls it a “shipment ID”, now I know, and a manifest is not required – because it already cleared when an attempt is made.) I willnever pay brockerage fees again, now I can use UPS again, I had stopped using it for years and avoided sales where UPS was the only shipper.

    Thanks for this info Trueler, saved me $30 and lots more in the near future.

  32. I am livid ! I should have done my research prior to giving them my credit card information. I just paid $210 in brokerage fees for a $500 clothing item !!!
    I assume there’s nothing I can do after the fact…?

  33. I think with all the problems and headaches that UPS causes, its time for a nice success story.

    Today was my second attempt at clearing a package via CBSA personally to bypass the UPS brokerage charges. I went to the CBSA office to fill out the proper B3 form (since it was a commercial goods shipment). The snag I encountered came when I did not have the proper Carrier Code for the form. The border agent, who was much friendlier and more helpful than previous agents I’d encountered) instructed me to attain the shipping manifest from UPS first. So I drove down the road to the depot (in Calgary) and asked for a copy of the manifest. Snag number two – the package was out for delivery and the manifest was only accessible on the package itself… even though i’d called UPS two days prior and told them to hold it for pickup at the depot.

    Disappointed, I returned to the CBSA office to ask a few more questions just to be certain I had all my ducks in a row for a second attempt when the package had returned to the depot – which at this time I was assuming would be Monday the following week. The border agent asked if I’d had any luck with UPS to which I responded “no” and told her what had happened. Here’s where things started to turn around. She offered to fill out a one-time-only B15 form on my behalf and accept my payment on the duty charges. Quick and painless. $40 was a nice alternative to the ridiculous $125 UPS wanted to gouge me for.

    Now armed with my official B15 form I went home, planning to return later when the package had returned to the depot. After a less than helpful phonecall to UPS to ask about the status of the package I decided to just go there and wait. Having been told it would be back between 6pm and 8pm I figured 7:30 would be a good bet. Unfortunately I mistakenly forgot to take note of the fact that the depot closed at 7:00pm.

    I arrived at 7:05pm. As luck would have it, the fellow at the desk unlocked the door and let me in. The package hadn’t returned yet but they allowed me to wait. 7:45pm the delivery truck returned and I was given my package. Even better, they accepted the B15 form without any argument or hassle over me having to pay the additional brokerage fees.

    The system works people!
    Best of luck to all of you!

  34. Hi Trueler,

    I`ve found a trail bike in a Store in Canada with a good discount- being last year`s model. They will send me an invoice using UPS (their store partner).

    I do not know anything about US Customs taxes/fees rates, but I want to figure out wether US Customs would charge me for this NEW bike going through boarder (cost around $2.250 dollars). Chances are they will, so the only thing for me to do is to declare the actual price with discount in order to get a lower brookrage fee (instead of the retail 2014 price – $3200)? Also, could you inform me what fees would incur in this case?

    Also, if I order a small product from Taiwan for example that costs $250, would they tax it?

    Thanks!

  35. OMG, UPS is one shady company!!!!Must Avoid and stop using them!!!!

    Here is what happened.

    My item
    Commercial shipment of $2895 USD.
    Ship From Irvine,CA,USA to Oakville,ON,Canada
    Items Toys (not toys for under 3 year old)

    I got a phone call by UPS on Nov, 29, 2014. They gave me their Unique shipment identifier number and a phone # for me to call them back. They need my info to clear custom.

    So I did and told them I want to clear custom myself. They refused and I said it is my right to do so and they went away for a while and came back and said, we will call you back to give you the instruction to clear the item yourself.

    They never did and I had to call back again after 2 days. They said that I cannot clear the item myself due to it is high value item. I told them I will call them back.

    I called Canada Border Agency Service (CBSA). I told them what happened and they said I have my right to do so but I have to present myself in person to Windsor, ON, Canada to clear it myself. The location is 3 hours drive away from me so there is no way. The person from CBSA said that she will call me back on Monday to confirm if there’s any other way to do it.

    2 days had past, and it is Monday today.

    I got a call back from the lady from CBSA. She said that she can not contact anyone at Windsor but I have to go there myself in person to clear custom.

    So now, I have no choice but to use UPS broker to clear it. I called them and I asked all their prices and stuffs to make sure they won’t rip me off again! They asked me for my info, company name, name and GST or Importer number. I do not have those 2 numbers so I said I will call them back. I had the call recorded because I know in fact that they are really really shady company, I must protect myself in some way.

    As I try to get my Importer number, I found another broker that is cheaper than UPS. They are on a site call ClearSmart.ca, their company name is J.W Smith Broker Ltd. I ask them questions and prices and sound good and is much cheaper than UPS.

    I called UPS again and told them I would like to use my own Broker to clear the item. They said NO, they refused. They said I already “authorized” them to do so. I DID NOT “authorized” them to do so because they do not have all my information! It was an incomplete request!! I told them I had the call recorded and It is my right and freedom to choose another broker company to clear custom. They keep saying NO, I can’t. I asked for their supervisor and the lady kind of refuse but I insist. She finally did it and put me on hold for a while. She came back and said, there are no supervisors able to take my call now. She asked me to leave name and phone # for the “supervisor” to call me back, which I don’t think they will ever do.

    I called CBSA again and ask for the same person. She wasn’t there but she called me back after.

    She said that there is NOTHING CBSA can do. I asked her if there’s any way to report this. She went away for a while and gave me a contact of Canadian Society Of Custom Brokers (CSCB). I called them, they are not government agency. I told them what happened anyway and they suggest me to call CBSA back. I said I was refer by them…

    They told me sometimes items get “auto” clear. The broker can “go ahead” and do it first before the call me. May be that is why they keep refuse to let me do anything except to use UPS broker to they can rip me off!!!!!

    The lady in CBSB suggested me to call my own broker (J.W Smith Broker Ltd) and have THEM due with them.

    I called them and gave them my tracking # and Unique shipment identifier number. They said they will call them and deal with them.

    About 10 mins later, I got a call from them and they said everything is done, UPS will send them the paper work and there will be no extra charge by UPS.

    So, in conclusion.
    The Canadian Government/Border are actually have no control what so ever on any pirate shipping company like UPS and FedEx. They seems to be above the law and ripping us off everyday. Those laws or rules that are “suppose to” protect us are made in those companies favor.

    We can not clear custom for large value items but to go to where the located physically, in person or use broker.

    What is this? 1980? E-mail/phone/Fax does not work? No internet???

    That is the main reason I do not have my shipping center located in Canada or USA. I have my shipping center located in Hong Kong. This is a special case that must ship to Canada first. This is a Nightmare.

  36. I just recently went through the major headache of dealing with UPS and the local CBSA office to attempt to bypass the ridiculous brokerage fees. I run a small hobby business where I repair and manufacture custom audio cables (microphone, instrument etc.) for people and I was tired of being gouged at my door by the outrageous COD fees for my parts & supply shipments.

    I got the same lines that most of you were – that I would have to go to Winnipeg to clear the package myself etc. After UPS attempted delivery I refused to accept it and told them to hold it at the depot until I picked it up myself. UPS actually ended up being fairly courteous by calling me personally and telling me what I had to do in order to clear the package myself. Unfortunately it was the CBSA office that were bull-headed and belligerent. The less-than-friendly CBSA officer determined that my shipment was a commercial shipment and therefore I had to declare each item on my list (there were a lot) individually in order to clear them.

    When UPS called and told me I merely needed to acquire a B15 from the CBSA I figured that was simple enough – what I didn’t know was that B15’s are for personal packages only and not for commercial goods. When I attempted to acquire the B15 from the CBSA I had almost completed the process when the agent I dealt with yesterday noticed me and immediately stepped in and kiboshed the process by accusing me of trying to cheat the system by not declaring the goods as commercial and threatened to fine me. I didn’t know B15’s weren’t for commercial goods.

    After they finished explaining all the BS red-tape I would have to go through I had heard enough for one day, was completely flustered and frustrated so I just went to UPS, paid the stupid brokerage fees and went on my way.

    I’m sure there’s a way to properly clear your own goods, but this was a nightmare. A lot of driving back and forth to the airport (30 mins each way for me), belligerent and unpleasant CBSA officers to deal with who don’t give a damn about your plight and ignorant UPS drones who will send you on wild goose chases to hassle you into paying the fees out of sheer frustration. There’s a lot of money to be made in scamming people like this, and if you make the alternative enough of a pain in the ass I suppose people are far more likely to go along with it.

    I will never ship with UPS again. Ever.
    I advise most folks to do the same.
    Its a trap.

  37. Oh my goodness.
    First, let me add my thanks to Trueler for the information as well as the forum.
    I am writing as a small business owner. We make art studio furniture and direct ship it only. A customer in Canada wrote to ask if it were possible to purchase a single easel. I told him that it was, but because of the item’s weight and dimensions, it must be sent via a courier. I ship occasionally to Canada, and asked for his school’s customs broker info. He responded that his school was small, seldom imports, and has no brokerage contract. I spoke to UPS and got a quote of $67 to do the accounting for us. On a $400 item, neither of us was delighted with that, and I thought he would decline the sale.
    I probably spent a good six hours researching what a broker does before I stumbled on this site, and after reading and checking the Canada Border Services Agency info, I told my customer that it would cost him time and travel, but I was confident that between the two of us, he could get his easel cleared himself. He ordered it.
    Because of its awkward shape, his unassembled easel was packed in TWO CONTAINERS (a cardboard box and a sealed PVC tube). I drove 25 miles to collect the packages, then waited 30 minutes at the UPS center to ship it.
    I told the clerk that my customer was going to do his own GST accounting, and provided her with my NAFTA certificate of origin and commercial invoice. I also e-mailed those to my customer together with the tracking numbers.
    The easel reached the UPS warehouse in Lachine, where it languished. UPS made no effort to contact my customer. I tracked the shipment via the website, and told him he could go to the CBSA office to make payment of the tax (simple and small, as our easels are U.S.-made, and I’d provided the HS tariff classification.)
    I’d given my customer the CBSA office location identified as handling low-value shipment clearance, but he called the one closest to his work and found that even though the website didn’t show it, they would process his tax as well, so it’s worth checking if there’s an office near you.
    He took his documents there and hit a snag–I’m not sure if it was because we’d used his work address for the shipment, but he was asked for an IMPORTER NUMBER. CBSA gave him a phone number to call to get one, he did, and he made trip #2 to the office and paid the 5% GST on his easel.
    He didn’t report by what method (i.e., whether CBSA faxed it, he e-mailed it, or what), but UPS was provided a copy of his B15 and the next day, his easel arrived at his place of work.
    Or rather, HALF OF IT DID.
    The ninnies at the UPS shipping center–despite being provided with a single recipient, single address, single NAFTA CoO, and single invoice, neglected to indicate that these two packages constituted a single shipment. My customer likewise apparently neglected to clarify that there were two packages with two tracking numbers when he paid the GST.
    So now he’s got half an easel, CBSA says he needs to return (for a THIRD trip) to get the clearance extended to his second package, and UPS–after I spend half an hour on the phone with them–said they’d be happy to broker the second package for us, only now the fee (on HALF the original value) will be $75.
    I called UPS again this morning and spoke with a different agent (Brad), who initially suggested that we might be able to retroactively consolidate the shipment with a letter from me, but then reported that that would have to be done at CBSA. By my fatigued customer.
    I asked if, since the problem originated with the UPS inadequate labelling, they could do the brokerage, waive the fee, and *I* will re-pay the GST.
    GST’s $22, but I’d rather the Canadian government get $44 out of us than UPS any.
    ———–
    So, my takeaways:
    I do think it was appropriate to advise UPS of the intent to self-account at shipment.
    If your shipment is more than one component, look to see that your shipper identifies it as one shipment.
    MAKE SURE RECIPIENTS UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY’RE RECEIVING!! Get clear identification of all components!
    If you get a sucky response from UPS, try, try again. The next agent may be far more reasonable.
    Especially on your first effort, this process can be frustrating, so do your research and ask for help. Check the CBSA website, and I’m losing track now, but try 1-800-461-9999 for help from them.
    And lastly, I sent this easel on 23 September, and as of 17 October, my customer still hasn’t gotten the second part.

  38. I sent a package USPS.

    It took over a month, We refunded a very unhappy customer over 300$

    He got the package 2 days later and had to pay 53$.

    Very disappointed

    :(

  39. So, what’s the best way to hold UPS and FeEx responsible for brokerage fees fraud? I mean, when you meet a gangster with a knife, you use the same? I see no difference here.

  40. PLEASE ALSO REMEMBER THAT THE COURIER MUST BE REGISTERED WITH THE COURIER LOW VALUE PROGRAM,BUT REALLY ARE THERE ANY OTHERS? DHL? IF YOU ARE DETERMINED ENOUGH TO SPEND YOUR SURPLUS INCOME ON RETAIL,THEN BY ALL MEANS, BUY FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY!!

  41. Just adding that I did get a reply from UPS today after sending in one more email one business day ago. So the reply was relatively quick this time around. I wonder if the customer survey I filled out helped it along.

    You may disregard this invoice. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you.

    So at least that is resolved. You just have to keep on top of UPS and repeat yourself. Apparently that is part of the process?

    Here’s hoping it is actually resolved and I don’t end up hearing from a collection agency another month later.

  42. I went at the Lachine, QC facility, where my package is located, to ask for paperwork to do the brokerage by myself. I was told I had to call the cutomer service to do so. In the UPS parking lot, I called and had a friendly representative offer me 15$ off the brokerage fee. I refused and asked for the paperwork. I was asked my phone number which I gave out and was told I would be called back to go at Lachine get the paperwork when it’s ready. So far everything is fine. Then I get home and check my tracking number. My package was set at the very same time I was on the phone to “return to sender”. They lured me into thinking everything was fine to get the paperwork when on the other side they would screw me over against my consent. Since it was 20h30 when I checked the tracking, Lachine was closed so I chatted with UPS online. They placed an emergency request that will be treated by monday but they cannot change the status of the package. They admit that by monday my package will be more than likely sent back to the USA. I talked to a UPS international representative by phone (the only customer service still open at 20h30). She told me the same thing. They can change the status of your package against your consent to “return to sender” but they cannot act to interveine to stop this process, just send a notice to the facility that will be treated on monday. All of this mess, that’s criminal behavior to me.

  43. And I just wanted to add: truly the best way is to avoid using UPS in the first place. If a business only ships UPS, or does not make it clear which shipping service they use, let them know you would like to buy from them but not if the only shipping option is UPS. Some businesses would be willing to make alternate shipping arrangements for you to get your business.

  44. Make sure you keep copies of all your documents, people. I did self-brokerage in Richmond, BC in mid-July, and now I have a brokerage fee bill from UPS. I’ve called and emailed with documents. So far this problem is still not resolved. I was told I would get a reply one business day later, when they’ve gotten a chance to look into it, but it’s been several business days and I still have not gotten a reply.

    This is frustrating to say the least. UPS sure tried to make self-brokerage a pain in the ass at every turn. They just ignored “I will clear customs myself / UPS do not need to do brokerage” written into the shipping instuctions (the shipper even wrote it in two places – in the shipping instructions and in the second line of the address, so they couldn’t miss it).

    I called when the package was in Canada and got “oh, it’s already out for delivery, you have to tell it to the delivery guy.” Delivery never came, I’m 100% sure because I was home all day and I have security cameras. (But there was a “delivery attempt” in the tracking, I double-checked the surveillence footage in the time the delivery attempt was claimed to have been made. There was no delivery attempt.) I called again and was told they’ll call me back the next day when they have documents ready for me. The next day no call yet, so I called again (again) and was told to wait some more. The day after that I finally get a call back. Then I went and waited in line at the UPS office for my documents, then went to CBSA, then back to UPS again.

    I put up with all that waiting and now I still have to wait for them to sort out that I don’t owe them any money (I even provided them with copies of documents to prove it)?

    I’m going to be pissed if this ends up going to a collection agency and I get pestered by a collection agency because of the incompetence of UPS.

  45. It look likes UPS change attitude . i called them today ,ready to get all sort of excuses why they cannot let me clear my package, i was surprised how cooperative the rep. was.
    i told her i want to self clear package bc i don’t wanna pay brokerage fees.
    She put me to hold for few minutes,then she said she cannot do it but someone from different department will call me within 24 hours . in less then 2 someone really called , confirmed that i wanna self clear package, asked for email and she sent me invoice with all info on it and one more sheet with all explanation what i need to do to clear the package. in the email she asked to send her copy of b15 back to her .
    and that was it.
    went to CBSA,he asked if i refused package and if i’m there voluntarily.i confirmed .he did some paper work,sent me to casher and after paying i got b15 form.
    very straight forward experience . absolutely no problems whatsoever.
    Glad i found this site. thank you very much!!!
    Good luck to everyone.

  46. Here is another good one: Sold expensive shoes on ebay. Buyer stated that they did not fit and shipped them back with UPS and informed me about it later. I phoned UPS and they told me they want CAD$74 for broker’s services and no import tax. I informed them that would like to self-clear the parcel. The phoned me back after weekend and emailed me instructions and invoice. With these 2 papers and my buyers email indicating that the shoes did not fit I went to 1 Front St W in Toronto and took me only 5 minutes to get Casual Goods Accounting Document with stamp. Did not have to pay even a dollar.
    3 documents were scanned and emailed back to UPS brokers immediately and 3 hours later their driver shows up at the door with delivery. Unhappy both of us were: I refused to pay and he refused to give me the parcel.
    Phoned UPS immediately and they said my request has not been processed yet.
    I hope I will waste their time a bit by requesting to re-ship the parcel to me again after my request and email has been finally processed.
    My concern is: why there is brokerage fee and no import tax? They insist that they represent me in clearing the parcel. But why do you have to clear something when there is nothing to be cleared?
    What a scam!!!

  47. Does ups only charge you those additional fees if items are over $20? Or has that changed? Does anyone know? Because i have a us amazon account and i was thinking of just making many tiny orders to avoid the bullsh*t.

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