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

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

  1. I’m having a tough time dealing with DHL as well.

    I made a purchase online for ~$500 and paid an extra ~$25 for express shipping. I specifically made note to the seller to put “Self Declare” on the package at the time of payment. This was Friday.

    Now, I wasn’t confident that the shipper was going to do as I had asked, so I also called DHL the next Tuesday morning (Monday was a holiday) and talked to their brokerage department. They lady was rude and didn’t seem like she wanted to be on the phone. However, I continued to tell her that I want to self declare my package and that I do not want to pay for their brokerage service. She continued to type something into the computer then asked me for my email address. She said they will email me the manifest once they have it ready. Great!

    However, by the end of the day, I got concerned as I still haven’t received any emails. I called DHL again.

    The next agent proceeded to tell me that the package is already on the truck and should be delivered to me today (huh??). He then stated that there was a charge of $25 for the package. I asked for more details and the package was changed $10 for duties, $10 for brokerage and another $5 for processing. I asked him why the package was put through brokerage and he said he doesn’t know. I asked him to return the package and that I would self declare and he said it would take approx 2-3 days for the package to return to the depot/customs before I can self declare the package.

    Now, this has become a issue about principle. I’ve done my due diligence to contact the seller and the shipper that I will self declare the package. I paid the extra shipping fees to get the product delivered express. In the end, I end up having to wait for the package to be moved back and forth having more frustrations dealing with incompetent people.

  2. Daryl, I have not encountered the problem you are describing with Amazon (I shop on frequently).

    eBay’s new import charge scam is called the “Global Shipping Program” and they have been tricking their American sellers into using it (from what I can recall reading) by signing them up in a user agreement update and then giving them no option to opt out of the program altogether. Sellers can however opt out of the program by editing their listings afterward (not sure if they can do this beforehand), but eBay doesn’t make this particularly easy to do.

    I recently purchased an item on eBay and the USA seller was nice enough to alter the listing before I purchased the item so that it would be shipped USPS and not using the GSP. No way was I going to pay their 28% import charges instead of MAYBE getting hit with a 13% HST charge at most! They don’t even confirm the amount of the charges until you have already committed to buying! I wouldn’t touch “Commit to Buy” with a 10 foot stylus!

  3. Well, this is so interesting! Thanks to all for the information and comments.

    I bought 2 bottles of shampoo at $20,99 ea. Total was $41.98.

    I was aware of the shipment fees of $23.99 which were high but I could live with that. Then I got an automated call for UPS (it sounded urgent) requesting the name of my broker and asking that I send an email to with the tracking number in the subject line. So I email the information and when UPS delivered the package there was a COD of $34.14.

    I refused the package and called UPS who did not seem surprised nor did they apologize for the outrageous brokerage fees.

    I called the company where I placed my order and they say they will refund my credit card but not the shipping cost of $23.99 that had already been paid to UPS.

    I won’t get my shampoo and I lost $23.99 in shipping but there’s no way I would have paid $34.14 for a $41.98 order.

    This is my last experience with UPS and the USA.

  4. I don’t know if anyone has notice but there seems to be a conspiracy toward Canadians now. Both ebay and Amazon are charging us import charges at checkout. I’ve never seen this before. It looks like a new policy to me.

    It’s not just UPS anymore. I stopped buying from any US merchants who shipped via UPS a long time ago.

    Now it looks like more US companies are getting in on the game of dipping their hands in our pockets. US corporate greed I suppose.

    I’m pretty much to the point where I won’t be buying very much from the US any more. I’d rather give my money to a Canadian company.

  5. Update. UPS gave the shipment to Purolator to deliver. Today went to North Bay CBSA and paid $40 instead of $125. Posted the form B15, a little note to the driver, and commercial invoice to my front door. Got home and boxes were on my porch and documents taken. Might use UPS again now that I know how. Thanks for all your help everyone.

  6. I’d like to share my experience here as well.

    I had some scuba equipment coming in from Italy and the seller shipped via FedEx. I was horrified to learn this because the eBay listing didn’t mention FedEx and simply “Standard International Shipping” which by my own folly I should have inquired about. Nevertheless, the package arrived here in Canada within two days and FedEx wanted $106 upfront for the package. Having only spent $365 on the equipment, I told the driver that I would be self-clearing. Later that day, I called the incompetent nitwits at FedEx to request the cargo control document (CCD)/manifest/commercial invoice but the idiot on the other line made up some BS about how I would not be able to get the documents due to confidential information apropos of the seller as well as the fact that the manifest could not be divulged until 5 days had passed after delivery. I knew the tool was spewing nonsense so I waited and called back a few hours later. The woman I spoke to this time still refused to send me the documents but did tell me that I should go in to the FedEx centre and get them myself. I wasn’t happy but given that the FedEx location and the CBSA office are a 5 minute drive from one another, I relented.
    Fast forward to today, I got in line at the FedEx location, grabbed the documents (I don’t see why the couldn’t email them to me as they were all printed off!!!), and made my way to the CBSA. Were it not for them being short-staffed and dealing with strange situations I would have been out of there in 10 minutes but alas I waited for 30 minutes before my number was called. The process was very simple and the CBSA officer was efficient. I ended up paying $18 in tax and went back to FedEx and slapped them in the face with my B15 and release form. Total cost, 1.5 hours of my time, about $5 in gas, and $18 in tax. Completely worth it!

    PS: Be firm and don’t relent if those incompetent troglodytes on the telephone refuse to send documentation by email or fax.

  7. Wow, so many stories, I have one for you. I called UPS regarding my shipment from Ohio. She talked so fast and was all over the place that when I got off the phone with her I was so confused. I was told brokerage fees were $72, when I told her I was self clearing she said,”No wait I apologize your shipment is an exception. You can’t self clear since it is registered with customs.” What does that mean? I told her I would call her back. Need answers people!! First time ordering with UPS.

  8. I have a friend sending me a package from the US to Canada. He assumed he was doing me a favour and sent it UPS, unaware of this whole situation. Being that it is a personal item marked as a gift (albeit with a $100 value}, with UPS still try and railroad me with this? The package is apparently due to arrive in 2 days and I’m not at all looking forward to the possibility of these fees.

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  10. People shipping UPS is a deal-breaker for me, the last 2 times I did it fully aware and did everything by the book to self-clear. Still took a month of phone calls and bullshit to finally get my package. They hate people who self clear and it wouldn’t surprise me if their staff are under instructions to make it as horrible and long as possible.

    The first time was a painting from Germany. The art company only shipped UPS and I already knew about their customs bullshit so I asked them to put a note on the package that I was going to self-clear. They couldn’t figure it out since it’s all a stupid automated system. It came to my house when I wasn’t home yet for some reason they just gave it to my landlord/parents despite being a different address and didn’t even ask for the COD. I never heard from them again and about 4 months later I get a call from a collections agency saying I owe UPS like $100. Fuck you. I called UPS and yelled at them and escalated, constantly saying I was going to self clear and if they wanted their COD extortion they shouldn’t have given me my package. Finally they relented and I was happy to pay them the taxes I owed, but not their bullshit fee.

    The next time it happened I had ordered like $30 worth of model train stuff from a company that once again ONLY used ups (why do companies do this shit? Give me a choice). It arrived, I told them I was going to self clear and to give me the paperwork so I can take it to the CBSA office. The driver argued with me saying the customs brokerage fee was simply the tax/duty and there’s no way to get around it. Once again I don’t know if the staff are just ignorant or told to lie. He left, refusing to give me anything. I had to call UPS over in Richmond and after being transferred about 3 times (despite calling the number on the UPS website for self-clearing) I got a lady telling me I had to come to the port of entry, no way around it and she refused to escalate saying that’s FEDERAL LAW. I told her on UPS’s own website they have a guide on self-clearing and I’m following it. She said “There’s no such thing as self-clearing, you mean ‘customs clear’ and you can only do that at the port of entry”

    Furious I called again, got someone else just following a scrip and kept escalating until I got a real human who wasn’t on a script. She actually knew what was up, faxed me the documents I needed. I marched over to CBSA, they helped me very quickly and the lady there also ranted at how fucked UPS was and even though they lost the class action suit and even though they keep telling UPS to stop fucking with people trying to self clear, they keep doing it. She even faxed it back to UPS for me because she told me they don’t tell you you have a 24h window to get your paperwork done or the whole package gets shipped back.

    I then called UPS again, since their instructions say to call to confirm. Suddenly the lady I was talking to earlier was on vacation and a new lady who was filling in for her has no idea about self-clearing and tells me I need to come to the port of entry. Finally she understands it, acts like I was confused not her, but sees that all my paperwork is in order. She specifically asks if I want the package delivered back to my door or at the local Victoria UPS office. I say my door, she says it will be there tomorrow.

    No package the next day, I’m tracking it and it says it’s in Victoria being delivered. By the end of the day the status is now going back to Vancouver. It reaches Vancouver, sits there over the weekend, then comes back to Victoria. Then there’s a message that it’s going back to Vancouver due to customs clearance. I have to phone again, escalate a million times, finally get an off-script human who tells me because I refused the COD at the door the package is flagged to return to Richmond, but in Richmond the package is flagged as cleared and ready to ship. She claims she’s fixed everything up and it is coming.

    A few days later there is a knock on the door, it’s a UPS guy. He has my package but won’t give it to me saying there’s a big customs brokerage fee on it. I calmly flip out, he calls his boss who says I have to pay, I calmly flip out some more and tell him the story and he hesitantly gives it to me while his boss calls Richmond to sort it out.

  11. Last week, I received a package with $49.32 worth of goods from California to BC. Before I could pick it up, UPS required the C.O.D. payment of $5.92 in GST/PST, $29.70 in Brokerage Fees + $1.48 in GST on top of the Brokerage Fee. Out of principle, I’ve spent part of the last 4 days dealing with this $31.38 problem and come up with some advice for those shipping and receiving cross border.

    Rule #1: Don’t EVER use UPS when shipping to a individual (not a business address) in Canada. Not once. Never. UPS will waive the brokerage fee for a business, but always add it to the invoice for individuals or “new customers.”

    Rule #2: If Rule #1 is ignored, here’s what you can do. Be prepared to waste ~5 hours of your time to get these exorbitant fees waived. Don’t pickup the package – just take a photo of the UPS invoice at your UPS depot. Then call your local Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Explain your situation to a CBSA manager, get their email address and send them a copy of your UPS invoice. They will then call you back and take payment for the GST/PST only and send you a completed ‘B-15’ form. If you bug UPS enough, they may get around to sending you another form called “Casual LVS Self Accounting Procedures.” They will ask you to take it to the port of entry (1 per province) to get stamped ‘cleared’. Forget that. You will instead just email it on to your friendly, neighbourhood CBSA officer, who will stamp it and send it back to you. You’ll then have to email both completed forms to UPS and wait for them to accept them and take the Brokerage Fee off your account (this could take 24 hours). For good measure, you’ll probably want to take those same completed forms to your local UPS depot to pick up your package, but they won’t release the package to you until UPS tells them that the package is cleared for delivery. Oh yeah, you’ll have to do all that before they return the package back to the sender (5 days after arrival and 2 days after receiving the “Casual LVS…” form).

    Rule #3: To avoid dealing with Rule #2, don’t EVER use UPS. Stick to US Postal Service for US to Canada packages.

  12. Paul,
    Good to see you made it out to the airport. I’m being charged $61.58 in brokerage and $15.84 in taxes but because the CBSA closes at 4:00 and YEG is 30+ minutes away from…anywhere, I’d lose more in income missing work to get there than the outrageous brokerage fees. That means UPS has me by the balls on this one.

  13. I called UPS today to get all the required info, thinking I need to poke and prod for half an hour and be sent on a run around. Nope. UPS said that I can freely self clear and good for me for doing it so i can save $44 on the brokerage fee. An agent will actually call ME to tell me what I need to do. Things have changed within 4 years of this article. Big thanks!

  14. Thank you so much for this tip. I ordered something from the states and when it crossed the border one of the representatives from UPS contacted me asking for the invoice (the seller being overly considerate, documented my parcel for $15.00) as she told me whatever I’m ordering does not appear to be so. I of course emailed her a copy of my actual purchase of $280 and $313 with shipping. Since the implicit trust of the invoice appears to have been violated already I see bi reason to refuse as it would just cause further complications.

    Tracy Hunt advised me that this “higher value” item can not be self cleared. Again I saw no reason to argue with her over the phone as they still have my package and I’m no where near her to confront anything. I complied and I will take action later. When item arrived I happened to be unavailable and thus UPS made all three attempts. THE TOTAL CUSTOM AND DUTY CAME TO $96!!!! FOR A $280 ITEM!!! This was in my favor as this packaged is now safely held at the local Depot in Edmonton (11204-151 Street) I then proceeded to go see what’s going on and all I wanted was to obtain the UPS invoice for the C.O.D. The lady at the front desk, once realized my intentions to self clear the package laid her hands on my parcel and said that means I cannot pick up the item at this time. I had no problem with that as I knew exactly what I had to do (thanks to all you helpful people).

    I then proceeded to the Edmonton CBSA office (1727-35th Avenue East Room 100) which is all the way at the airport at the end of one of the runway in the middle of nowhere… And waited patiently as the officer did the paper work and lastly handed me my ticket: the B 15 form and he even broken it down for me how this item: made in China and imported to the US, plus sales tax, came up to $35!!!! Much better than $96! The officer instructed me to call UPS and perhaps forward this info. ups tels me (after several holds and so on) told me someone will call me within 24 hours and instruct me how to proceed. I was so impressed and went back to the UPS Depot the next day and swiftly picked up my package without paying a cent. It was the same lady and recognized me and she was pretty cool with it. Oh and by the way I got no calls back from UPS anyway. What a bunch of bullshit. Hope this further helps everyone!

  15. Hello.

    I bought approximately $1500 in art on a cruise in October which was sent by UPS from the art companies warehouse a few weeks later. I was out of Canada for 10 days and when I went through Canadian customs I declared the art and was given a B15 reference number and a couple of other forms. I was told to show the custom forms along with the B15 reference number to the UPS driver as proof that they were declared and that there would be no problems.

    A few week later the UPS driver showed up handed me the tubes and drove off on his merry way. No bill so I figured all was good. A week or so later I received a statement from UPS saying I owed them $336.21! $238.04 in GST/PST and the rest in brokerage fees. I immediately phoned UPS explained what I had done and asked why I was being charged for it. She explained how it worked and since I didn’t see the logic to it she asked if I hold the line while she talked to a manager to see what could be done. After that She asked what custom forms did I have so I told her and offered to fax them. Again I was asked to hold so she could to talk to her manager. Manager told her that even though I had the customs forms it didn’t matter and that I had to pay the bill. I told her since I declared everything with customs and that UPS went ahead and paid the taxes and brokerage fees why don’t they just ask customs to be reimbursed? She told me that I would have to pay them and they would send me a form to give to customs to be reimbursed the GST/PST. I told her that was unacceptable and after a couple of more hold the line manager consulting she came back with, as a good Will gesture on their part, they would wave the brokerage fees but I had to pay the taxes. I asked if I would be guaranteed to get the taxes back from customs and again she said as soon as payment was made they would send the forms out to me. To me that was a no, so I told her that because it was so close to Christmas I didn’t have the extra money and that MAYBE I would pay it in the new year…….I had no intentions of paying it.

    Well 4 months later I received a letter from a collection agency letter today. I called the number on the letter and got, ” thank you for calling UPS. All our agents are presently busy…”. So I hung up and called the number again and on the 3rd try it was the collection agency that answered. I explained the situation to her, she basically said the same as UPS, so I asked if I would be guaranteed to be reimbursed if I did pay? She then asked if I had an accountant and if I did I should consult him because since it was taxes I’d have to declare it on my income tax to be reimbursed and not by customs. So totally confused I told her that my taxes weren’t done yet and that I would talk to them once I received all my T4’s. She then told me I had until Thursday to consult and pay or they were going to send it out for collection.

    I realize after reading a lot of the stories here why they waived the brokerage fees but what I don’t understand is why they don’t recoup the taxes since it was kind of their mistake. If I do have to pay why does UPS say it’s customs that reimburses and the collection agency says it’s to be declared on my taxes!! Anyone know which one it really is?

    Thank you

  16. Continuing the last post. I called UPS today and again they wanted to clear my shipment for me.

    I immediately stopped them and told them No, I want to self clear my package. She told me I had to go to Winnipeg and asked if I was willing to do that. I told them no and immediately began telling them exactly what they were going to do using “CBSA” as much as possible to show authority.

    She put me on hold for a bit and then gave in and told me how to proceed to self clear my shipment in Alberta.

    I hope this is the end of it but I’m not holding my breath.

    Again thanks for all the help in this article!

  17. Hello,

    I am truly grateful of your articles! After receiving the call from UPS earlier today telling me their outrageous brokerage fees they told me that I could clear it myself but I am required to go to Winnipeg to get it cleared as this is the ‘port of entry’.(I am in Alberta) While on the phone I Googled if this was even legal and I found this website.

    I told them I would get back to them tomorrow about it as I began to research. I have learned a lot between this website and the CBSA website.

    I have sent an email to UPS requesting the ‘Commercial Invoice’ as well as an email to the CBSA telling them the situation and asking why I had to go to Winnipeg to clear the shipment when I have a CBSA office within a 15 minute drive from me.

    I hope to hear back from both of them tomorrow. Hopefully this will be fairly painless. I already work 28 hour days as it is, I don’t need another thing added to my plate.

    Again, thank you so much! And I will keep you posted on progress.

  18. I’ve had similar problems with ups before, I wish I came across this page before. currently I am having some problem with Fedex. tracking status shows:

    Arrived at FedEx location

    Clearance delay

    the clearance delay has already been more than two weeks. what does it mean by clearance delay? is it the same thing as brokerage processing? I talked to customer rep. and she said that she doesn’t know how much longer it will take. I wanted to complain but I need to know who is responsible for this delay, the courier or cbsa?

    the shipper has already charged me the tax and brokerage fee:
    Canada ON Sales Tax: $3.45
    International Brokerage Fee: $15.50
    International Customs Duty: $0.87

    I have no idea what customs duty means, I paid it anyways.
    I think it is a rip off, I should have probably refused to pay the seller brokerage fees, and cleared it myself.

    some ebay sellers also charge import fees which I think it includes brokerage fees, I wonder if I could ask these sellers to wave the import fees and let me do my own clearing of the item.

  19. Is there only one place, TORONTO LESTER B. PEARSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT to do self-clearing in Toronto? Or any CBSA location which offers LVS service? Please advise.
    Thank you.

  20. This is brilliant!!!

    I fell victim to this scam last summer when I ordered a set of lowering springs for my car from turnermotorsports. The value on the invoice is US210 and I paid UPS CAD78 for their so-called brokerage fee. I am just a few minutes drive from a CBSA office and I would have been able to clear my shipment with minimum hassle.

    Thanks a million mate..

  21. Hi,
    I recently bought an item in ebay. It was shipped from Mississauga,ON, Canada to me at Troy, Michigan. It was shipped by FEDEX and I did not have to pay anything to Fedex while receiving the item. The item (mobile phone of $529.99) was not as promised and I had to return it. I shipped it to the seller via UPS ground and was charged $19.00 (approx). I was not mentioned anything about brokerage charge. UPS has now asked the seller to pay UPS brokerage charge of $80.00 approx. The seller has refused to pay it and has not accepted the item. Now it is held up in Windsor, ON, Canada.

    UPS is telling me they can attempt to deliver to the seller again, if I pay them approx $80.00 for that as the brokerage charge. If I want it back then I will have to approx $110.00 for return shipment.

    Please advice what I can do.

  22. I realise this is an older article but seeing as it is the first Google hit for this issue I wanted to chip in some information I got from UPS. The agent I was in touch with was actually pretty helpfuly, mostly probably because I have a business account with them and they don’t generally try to strongarm businesses perhaps, though that’s just speculation. In either case, I actually don’t know what I stood to be charged, the sender had indicated that they’d pay. What I can add is this:

    I received a call with a callback number ( 1 888 520 9090 ) and a reference number. The reference number didn’t go into tracking.


    Not sure if this is new practice or old, or only occurred because I was a business, but I thought I’d put that out there as a FYI.

  23. Now that Parliament has dealt with cell phone companies and contracts, and cable TV packages racket, perhaps it will turn its attention to this scam, because it really does hurt unsuspecting consumers. I’ve been caught by it more than I care to say and I would love Ottawa to legislate against it.

  24. what about the disabled? we can’t just sashay off to the nearest cbsa – and rural people, are we denied the right that everyone else enjoys of ordering internationally?
    its just a bribe system, I been around the world and in some places customs could be cleared with a couple of porn magazines and a bottle of good whiskey
    nothing has changed, they want their cake and eat it too – its like going into a store and buying something and someone saying ‘wait, you have to pay another fee to take it to your car’ it is a human rights violation and should be stopped

  25. Glad to have come across this articular. I order some parts for my septic system from the US. Paid seller shipping and they shipped UPS.

    UPS doesn’t even deliver to my area so the pawn it off on Puralator, who also doesn’t come to my house but has a depot near by. I picked up the package didn’t have to pay anything. There was an invoice attached to the box for the brokerage fee and I thought forget that, they didn’t contact me an ask to clear it. They wanted $38 on a $60 item.

    Fast forward a couple months down the road and I get a letter from some collection agency. Wasn’t worried about credit issues because they don’t even have my full name SIN or anything. But I though well I should probably deal with this.

    I contacted UPS after I got a copy of the invoice from the collection agency. I explained that I think it would be fair to pay the tax but I am not going to pay for a inflated brokerage fee that I did not ask for them to broker it for me and I wasn’t even informed it was being done.

    The lady was pretty good, she waived the fees and I just paid the tax.

  26. I had no idea UPS did this until it happened to me:

    item cost: $10
    shipping: $20
    surprise UPS brokerage fee: $23

    Yeah, the UPS fee is 230% more than the item. Return to sender.

  27. Hi, I purchased an item from stampla which was supposed to be shipped to BC, Canada. On the shipping the only option was UPS and the fee was $60 usd. I don’t even know what kind of service it is if its a express or standard service.

    I ordered it on Friday and on Monday it says it shipped.
    Since I asked to send any notifications to my email on my package. On Wednesday it sent me an email saying PACKAGE DATA PROCESSED BY BROKERAGE. WAITING FOR CLEARANCE
    which is why I looked it up on the internet and found this site.

    I have no idea when my package will get here and judging my some posts found online, if I have to pay more or I can pick the item up myself. It doesnt tell me where though.

    The item was $140 USD so im guessing I’d have to pay around 70 dollars extra which sounds bs to me.

    what should I do to avoid paying those extra fees? thanks.

  28. I order a gaming keyboard, mouse & pad from California US and of those cost $124.99US on top of that I had to pay $30 for shipping and handling. UPS tried to deliver the package to my home while I was at work, therefore, they left 1st attempt notice and require a cheque for $62.09 for tax + brokerage fee. I was so outraged with this requirement so I googled to find out the heck of that COD and brokerage fee from UPS was. And I found this article from Trueler.

    I did exactly instruction from Trueler on the next day: Called UPS, provide the tracking number (or notice # from UPS), got the Commercial invoice faxed to me (luckily I have a fax machine, there were 2 emails I supposed to receive but did not get it). Anyway, the next day, I went to CBSA office at 5425 Dixie Rd. Mississauga paid for a total of $16.97 and received the B15 form.

    Next morning, I called UPS and inform them that I have got the B15 form and I would like to pickup my package… After verifying my order and transfer my call to 2 more departments, I was told that they will arange home delivery for me and I don’t have to pickup.

    I thought, they would hold my package for a few day before delivery to me, but instead they have delivery to me right on the next day

    I would like to thank Trueler for sharing this information. And I hope that if courier did not try to rip off us (and just charge a reasonable amount like “commission fee”)then would a least get some money and we don’t have to waste our time, gas and UPS get absolutely NOTHING!

    Finally, I think I owe Trueler (or this website) a donation :-)


  29. I just ordered an item from for $55 (it was out of stock with and it clearly states on my invoice that I have prepaid $11.15 for “Import Fees”. Does this not cover me for my duties and tariffs? What if this item comes via UPS and they still try to extort even more money from me? Do I simply state that I have already paid and then show them my invoice? Or is my only recourse to go to my nearest CBSA office to sign my paperwork and take care of this myself?

    This is a real rip off…I have had UPS do this to me in the past, but this time I have already made up my mind to ship the item back to if UPS tries to extort extra money out of me.

    I always liked using USPS because it usually took 5-7 days to arrive, and because UPS would always try to deliver the damn package 3 times, even though I was at work, by the time I would be available to pick up the item from their warehouse it would take an additional 4-5 days anyway.

  30. I purchased 2 items from Fedex and a few weeks later they sent me a letter telling to pay brokerage fee.

    It’s a good thing I used my initials of my first name and my full last name.

    I didn’t pay the fees.

    Fedex sent to collections and they asked to pay.

    I crossed out the letter and sent back to collections saying that person no longer lives there.

    I never received any other letters again.

    No credit score damage, cuz I used my initials.

    If you have a very common name, then they will never find you, cuz they have no info on you. Collections can’t do crap cuz they don’t have your SIN.


  31. For those in Edmonton Alberta there is hope, I successfully self-cleared a UPS shipment from the USA @ our international airport. It was a long hassle because of UPS’ incompetency, but long story short wait until the package crosses the border, then tell UPS you want to self-clear. They will e-mail you a document from the port of entry which contains the fax# and the contact who will handle your case, you must wait for this instruction email. You can get the commercial invoice from any agent on the phone regardless of them saying that’s not the document you need (it actually is, the phone wenches are morons) but you still need the number and person handling your case from the port of entry.
    Anyways, take the commercial invoice to the border guys, the lady that helped me out knew what she was doing.

  32. It takes a while to read through all the info and posts here. The posts I find the most interesting is the exchange between Trueler and Fred.

    re Fred: You keep repeating that the only thing brokerage involves is paying duty which is BLATANTLY FALSE. I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion at all.

    re Trueler: – “Brokerage services” indeed involve only paying duties and taxes on behalf of importer. You are saying that it is “blatantly false”. If no taxes due, there is no brokerage fee. Even UPS website confirms this.

    I think this point is key. If there is actually more work involved for the Courier bring items from the USA to Canada then there should be a fee for that. Myself, I’ve paid these fees before and find them way too high. To combat this I would wait to purchase items until I was close to a border and have the items shipped to a US address that I set up through Kinek Point. Note: shipping fees were a lot less this way too. Having brought the items through the border myself I have to say it was pretty easy. Just declared everything and paid taxes. That was it. Very easy…

    I’m not near the border as often anymore and that is what brought me to this site. I’m in Halifax and I noticed in a previous post that an importer was told that the item would have to be cleared at the port of entry, Montreal. My fear is that if I contacted UPS ahead of time to tell them I wanted to clear the item myself there response would be: No problem… Meet us in Montreal:)

    If it is fact that broker fees being charged is only for the service of paying the taxes on the importers behalf then I have no issue to go down to the local CBSA and doing that myself. The office isn’t far. I think I might go buy something now to see how the process goes.

  33. Hello Admin,

    Can you please get in touch. I would like to publish few relevant theme based content at your site “trueler”.
    Any specific guidelines you have?
    Looking forward to hear from you.

    Best Regards,
    Miranda Owen

  34. This is currently happening to me. My Aunt in Florida sent me a anniversary gift. The contents is worth approx. $54 USD. They are trying to charge me $45 in brokerage fees in order to obtain my gift. First they said it’s because my Aunt put the value of the contents at over $100 (total lie she never was even asked how much the contents were worth). The second time I called they said it’s because she dropped it off at the UPS store which is considered a business so that’s why I’m being charged. If I need to pay the GST on the gift that’s fine….a whole whopping $3!!! But not $45!! I have half a mind to tell them to ship it back to my Aunt on their dime and my family will just pick it up for me when they visit in December! What a scam!!!!

  35. To the Mod, Would it be possible to relay my message to JC since email is required to response to a comment, can there be some way to send the message, this is a long shot, it would help me if i get some feedback.. thanks

  36. To JC,

    I am wondering how much fee did you end up paying with your Order from Philippines, as I did make a similar transaction and wanted to know if i should just cancel the transaction if the fee too expensive. Hoping you read this.

  37. Okay, I am supposed to receive a package by the end of the day (Aug. 29, 2013) (as per UPS tracking notification) coming from the Philippines, and the shipping service is UPS Worldwide Express Saver. The items are (5) different videoke song chips that costs me $340 Canadian and it’s for personal use.

    Here is the current status of the package:

    Winnipeg, MB, Canada 08/29/2013 8:08 Import Scan
    08/29/2013 7:14 Arrival Scan
    08/29/2013 7:14 Package data processed by brokerage Waiting for clearance / Receiver’s customs broker has been assigned The shipment is now released to move in transit

    Reading all your posts here makes me wonder if UPS will charge me big amount on brokerage fee. But I have also read on UPS website that UPS offers free routine customs clearance of UPS Worldwide Express Saver…Does this mean the brokerage fee?

    I hope someone would be able to reply on this post before UPS arrives. I would really appreciate your input. And I thank Trueler for posting this very informative article which I just came across today — it would really help a lot of people here in Canada. Thank you so much…….

  38. So, it appears that UPS really is a scam. I ordered a $150 keyboard from the U.S. They charged me a hefty $35 “international shipping” fee to Canada. Then when UPS showed up, they wanted another $53!!! The GST was only about $10, while their brokerage fee was $40! This means my total shipping cost for a $150 keyboard would be $88! Luckily I wasn’t in the office at the time, so they were not able to collect. I phoned up UPS to complain–fortunately I got a receptive agent. She said she “could tell by the tone of my voice” that I was quite upset, so she offered to do a “one time only” discount for goodwill. At first she offered to knock $20 off, but when I pressed she upped it to $30 off. A $10 brokerage fee I can take, but their regular fees are a ripoff. I urge everyone to always make sure to check ahead of time which courier is used by the retailer and refuse to order if it’s UPS.

  39. Soo great news…

    So today I received 2 packages one worth 400$ and were requesting 120$ of brokerage, and the other 66$ and 40$ of brokerage. So this mornings disputed and then I called ups asking for a commercial invoice in which they gladly told me that they sent my order or whatever to another person who will then deal with the commercial invoice and that it may take up to 24hours. So I call again a couple hours later, and same thing 24hours. So finally by mid after noon I get an email from them but only receive one of the invoices. Note: I emailed them the night before requesting an invoice for both, but the info number for one the packages was not entered in the system so it was not found. So after receiving the first email, I quickly call ups, as the cbsa office will close in an hour and a half, and ask about the package with the info notice, and the guy on the phone for some odd reason had athority to send the invoice himself rather than getting another person to do it. So get all the paper work printed, left with just the 2 invoices and my ID, and get to cbsa where the woman just took the papers, asked If I knew where the shipment is and told her that they were still on of their trucks. So she says alright, gets me the paper stamped, and DONE. Afterwards I go to the ups warehouse a couple doors down, and talked to a man who photocopied the papers and said that he’ll try and get me the packages tomorrow with all COD’s voided. Paid only 60$ for taxes and what not instead of 160$

  40. I just ordered three salon chairs which cost $118.00 each. Salon chairs plus shipping was about $620. When UPS delivered the chairs they said we needed to pay $650 brokerage fees. When I complained they said the Canadian government wants $650 for taxes which isn’t true. I was also overcharged by $100 for the chairs and shipping. We are requesting a refund.

  41. I agree with all here who have had bad experiences with private courier services particularly UPS as I have often felt robbed by this rogue company and since then I have been very alert in telling sellers to please ship by their post offices both in the US as well as overseas.

    Now Canada customs has been holding package. NOT GUNS, NOT DRUGS, NOT PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION, NOT REPTILES THAT KILL KIDS or WILD ANIMALS FOR PETS or ANY HAZARDOUS MATERIALS (all these pass through the customs undetected) but a simple package of “EYE-DROPS” that I so desperately need is still sitting at the customs for what? What Investigation? They are probably going to charge me a bomb and release the package when the product expires. Just who the hell will reimburse me for that? This is the height of wickedness towards its own citizens.

    May God burn the flesh of wicked ones with His fire and grind their bones to dust… So may it be, I pray.

  42. I live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
    Ordered 9 lbs of pure ground chicory from Arco Coffee, 2206 Winter Street, Superior WI US 54880.
    9 lbs of pure ground chicory cost: $35.67.
    UPS shipping cost was: $33.06.
    UPS Brokerage Fee plus GST was: $28.61.

    I was told by UPS clerk the brokerage cost wouldn’t be very much. It ended up being 80.2% of the cost of the coffee.

  43. I stopped using the Brown courier years ago. They have a horrible damage rate and always overcharge for brokerage.

    Other couriers do usually charge a fee for brokerage but it is usually quite small.

    Now I just use the mail and wait a few extra days. It is the simplest and least expensive solution.

  44. Hi,

    Does anyone know more information or updates on fees and how to avoid them for FedEx? What I’ve read here is that they are only charging $10 and it’s more convenient to just pay the fees.

    Also I thought before that if my package was written off as a gift, no duties/taxes would apply, now as I read the CBSA website, it says only packages under $60 and written off as a gift are expemted from duties/taxes. Does anyone know more about this?


  45. Ikea canada uses Fed-Ex to get the furniture you order online to come from quebec to toronto, once it gets to toronto you as a consumer are dealing with the Lazy ass-drivers of fed ex and their fake attempts when tracking your shipment, no card is left at the door you wait all day and because the driver does not feel like delivering in the hot day that it is … he punches some bullshit into their system the night before , “an attempt was made at 1pm the next day , no one available or business closed” clearly , you call customer support bullshit is bigger than the driver’s we will try to get him to come back today.. or the next business day.. so all 2 days you sit home from 9am-5pm till this bullshit business gets it together… do your self a favour ask ikea or any business you order from online to ask for a reliable small business who wants your business for shipment.. fed-ex toronto sucks.

  46. Hi all,

    Trueler, thank you very much for this post, I am so glad I found your website before I accepted my most recent packaged.
    I have two watches being shipped to me in Ontario from California and UPS was trying to charge me $161 for duties, taxes and brokerage fees. I followed your steps, and must say that everyone that I spoke to from UPS and CBSA was very friendly and knowledgeable about self clearing a package. All said and done, I was able to get my B-15 form and only had to pay $29!

    Once again,

    Thank you

  47. Hi all.
    Im facing this filthy ugly UPS Scam in Taiwan now.
    I ordered 166$US of nutritional supplement + 80$US shipment from USA to Taiwan. and they are asking me to pay 70US$ to clear my customs.
    I checked how much of tax that I have to pay through Taiwanese customs website. and its only 12$US for the tax.
    my shipment status showing its still in “import scan” seccsion. my package could deliveried at this moment as it scheduled, if agreed to pay them the brokerage service charge.
    Im dealing with the customs to clear the customs myself at this moment.
    thank you so much for sharing your experience. It help me so much.
    lets let the world know how ugry they are!

  48. What I don’t understand is why don’t they charge
    us 100% of the value of the item.Surely we will pay.?
    I paid $143 for shipping 14 lbs from Ohio to B.C.
    And they want $44 brokerage on an $85 item.
    Robbery is what it is.
    If it was sent via USPS they would be no fee.
    Forget UPS.

  49. I bought some silver bullion ( there are no taxes or duty fees on importing bullion ) and ups charged me $67 brokerage fee on a $750 purchase when it came across the border into Canada from the US , I paid the fee and called ups to argue it, they offered to refund me $30 of it.

    Can they charge me a brokerage fee for something that has no taxes or duty?

    Can I self clear the item after it has been delivered?

    Can I get the remaining $37 back from ups ?

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