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

These instructions are the final conclusion to the post

UPS/FedEx Brokerage Fees – avoid scam

and are right for you if:

  • You ordered some goods from US into Canada by UPS and they are on the way
  • Going to import some goods from US into Canada by UPS
  • Already received your package and did not pay anything to the driver. It means that UPS will send you brokerage fees invoice several weeks/months later, or send information right to collection agency
  • Driver showed you collect-on-delivery (C.O.D.) invoice which was ~half of the item’s price and you refused to pay at the door

There are two conditions necessary for the procedure of self clearance at Canada customs:

  • Your shipment’s value for duty is less than $1600 CAD
  • You have one of the local CBSA (Canada customs) offices nearby. You may find the list of offices across Canada here: Directory of CBSA Offices where Courier Low Value Shipments Program clearances are performed.

Here is the procedure of self clearing (confirmed by CBSA main office and proven many times in practice):

  • Wait while your package comes to the local UPS warehouse (where you live). You will see status in the shipment’s tracking information on UPS website. If you don’t track, so just wait for the first delivery attempt and refuse to pay at the door
  • Call UPS at toll free number 1-800-742-5877, press “3” to be connected to the billing department (or other prompt by the system), and ask customer service representative to send you shipment’s invoice. Some of the representatives call it commercial invoice. Just ask for “commercial invoice” associated with your tracking number. They can send it by e-mail or fax. Please make sure they got your address correctly – ask to spell it back. They will send it right away in .zip archive to your e-mail. Shipment’s invoice has the Unique Shipment Identifier Number needed by CBSA as well. This is how it looks like (click on image to enlarge):

UPS Shipment/Commercial Invoice

  • Find out what is the address of your local UPS warehouse where your package is being held. Call and ask UPS if you can’t figure out. CBSA may ask for this information during self clear. For GTA (if you see “Concord” in the tracking information) the address as of Nov. 2010 is:

UPS Center

2900 Steels ave. W,

Concord, ON, L4K 3S2

phone: 800-742-5877

  • Take your shipment’s invoice, address of UPS warehouse, money to pay taxes and photo ID to the nearest CBSA office. Please take the reply from main CBSA office with instructions about self clear process for the case if officers in your local office are not aware with the proper procedure. You may find their reply at UPS/FedEx Brokerage Fees – avoid scam – section almost at the bottom of the post, just between solid grey lines. Last time I visited CBSA office in Brampton at the following address:

CBSA Brampton: office 480

197 Country Court Blvd.,

Brampton, ON, L6W 4P3

office hours: 8:30 – 16:30, Mon – Fri

!! – recently address has been changed to:

5425 Dixie Rd.

  • Present your shipment’s invoice to customs officer and he will do clearance for you. After paying applicable taxes and duties to the cashier you will be provided with CBSA B15 form – Casual Goods Accounting Document, which confirms that you paid all the taxes to Canada customs. B15 form looks like this:

CBSA B15 Casual Goods Accounting Document

  • Call UPS and ask how to provide them with B15 form (proof that you paid taxes) in order to waive brokerage fee invoice. They will give you fax number. Please make sure that you put your tracking number of the cover page. As of Nov 2010 CBSA B15 form should be sent here:

UPS Brokerage Department

fax number: 1-770-990-1724

  • After that UPS Brokerage Department should process your B15 form and waive C.O.D. charges. It may take 1-5 days. You may also try to speed up the process by calling UPS and informing them that you already paid taxes to CBSA and sent receipt to the brokerage department. Ask UPS to schedule delivery.

You are done!

I have not done it with FedEx or other couriers, but procedure should be very similar.

473 thoughts on “How to self clear shipment at CBSA and avoid UPS brokerage fee”

  1. Hi, I have a different situation with Fedex. I received the bill after a couple months after I received the package. Is this even legit since I have no contract with Fedex? How can I know I need to clearance the package myself without knowing there are taxes being charged?

    Thank you

  2. I asked UPS to send me the commercial invoice so I could clear an unsolicited parcel myself. They tried very hard to discourage me, first telling me (incorrectly) I would have to drive to the border to do so (I live in Toronto where there is a CSBA office.). After I made half a dozen phone calls – and each time they promised to email me the invoice “within 2 hours” – I discussed the problem with a CBSA officer who attempted to intervene on my behalf. After she made several phone calls to UPS, and after I began to taper record my conversations with them, they changed their story. The said they were not permitted to send me the invoice while the parcel was out in the field, and that they would recall it back to their warehouse, and then send me the invoice. A few days later – we are now about a month past my initial request- they finally sent me the invoice. The parcel contained a book valued at under $25, and they wanted $17! I took the docs into the toronto CBSA office, and the officer cleared it, no taxes due at all. I emailed the stamped docs back to UPS as they had instructed. End of story? Don’t I wish! But no. Now UPS says that they will not release the pkg to me unless I pay their fee anyway! Why? Because the parcel “has passed its timeline due for Cod cancellation.”
    Any ideas, anyone?

  3. I will be starting my process today as today was the delivery date and I got the unexpected brokerage fees. A little confusing but I hope it works.
    Crazy thing is, this item was mine to begin with. Seller wanted a refund and returned shipment via UPS.
    $500USD value and $168.40 in fees.
    Not sure where my local CBSA is either.
    I can’t afford these fees. But it seems a little difficult.

  4. My breakage fee was removed( $0 GST/ $0 HST), but went to UPS twice for picking up my package. Thanks for the instruction and hope this one will help more ppl. :)

  5. Hi Guys,

    Thanks for all the info. I have new born baby gift from Mon(US). UPS charging 130 CAD for baby gift??? I got the “invoice” from UPS, and brought to local CBSA (5425 Dixie Rd). Officer told me he can’t give me the B15, because there is no duty and Hst on this. Then I called UPS number with #3 again, UPS customer service said I have to wait for Windsor CBSA call me. And CBSA will provide me form and instruction and some website link to do. I’m still waiting from Windsor CBSA, also I sent invoice paper(a case number provided by local CBSA officer and a blue stamp) back to “imagingfredericton@ups.com”.

    Let’s see what’s next happen to me :(

  6. Just wanted to share my ‘success story’ as well. First of all thank you for putting up this excellent write-up, I’m sure it helped countless people over the years, myself included!

    I bought over 700$ worth of canvas fabric which already cost me an arm and a leg to ship. CODs were over 300$ because UPS wrongfully marked the canvas as non-NAFTA, charging me the 18% ‘duties’ plus the bullshit 70$-ish broker fees.

    Went through the steps and called UPS, requested the self-clearance documents. Either I got a good rep or they’ve gotten better because I got my docs super fast with no fuss at all. Went to my local CBSA office to a slightly confused but incredibly helpful clerk (you could tell they rarely did this, small town).

    Bottom line, I paid about 100$ of expected taxes and saved over 200$ for about 2h of my time. I’d say it was well worth it.

    Thanks again!

  7. I ordered some things from the US – total value before shipping was 335 CAD. The seller shipped it out immediately, via UPS. There was no choice.

    UPS contacted me via email update (that I had signed up for) on Monday and claimed that I owed them 190 CAD COD (or 57%). That seemed a little high compared to the estimated values I got from: https://www.crossbordershopping.ca/calculators/canadian-duty-calculator
    I decided that I would self clear, or let my package lapse (ie sent back to seller). 190? Insane.

    Monday
    I emailed UPS via their website with:
    – my tracking number
    – request for documents for self clearing

    Tuesday
    – original delivery date… was put on hold due to my self clearing request
    – I recieved requested document (shipping manifest)
    – I called CBSA, who instructed me to go to my local (London Ontario) CBSA office – which is at the airport.
    – I went to the airport office, and told them I wanted to “self clear”
    – they entered stuff into the computer, charged me $44.63, and provided me with a proof of duties paid form (they take debit, credit etc. too!!)
    – I DID have to pay $2 for parking at the airport… :(
    – I called UPS to see how to get the form to them (as I don’t have a fax machine)
    – I emailed my proof of duties paid to imagingfredricton@ups.com

    Wednesday
    – I emailed via UPS.com that “I had submitted proof of duties paid to imagingfredricton@ups.com, and I expect delivery ASAP”

    Thursday
    – My package was delivered without COD

    Reasonably painless!!
    The call to CBSA took under 5 minutes.
    The drive the airport took me 20 minutes each way.
    The self clearing at the CBSA in the airport took 10 minutes.
    The call to UPS to get the email address to send proof of duties took 15 minutes.

    Just over an hour of my life.. with the most amount of time spent driving or on hold. Not bad, considering I saved myself $143. If UPS had only charged me something reasonable, I may not have done all this. But UPS’s COD charges are insane. Never pay them.

    I’m certainly never going to pay them again.

    Notes to make it easier:
    – request self clear via email IMMEDIATELY after getting a tracking number. This will give you time to get everything squared away before delivery date.
    – have the fax number to send in proof to UPS on you when you go to the CBSA office. They might be nice and fax it off for your right there and then.
    – email via UPS.com as soon as you have completed the payment, and tell them you expect delivery to be on _____.

    Inland offices for CBSA:

  8. This is my experience with FedEx today in Calgary, Alberta, hope you find it helpful.

    I ordered $339.81 (US) worth of clothing from Brooks Brothers online. FedEx attempted to delivery to my house in Calgary, I wasn’t home, they left a door tag stating they wanted me to pay $128 Cdn in duties and taxes. I was like “WTF?!?!? That’s almost 50% of what I paid for the clothes!!!” So I came across this website and looked into self-clearing through CBSA. I called CBSA’s toll-free number, 1-800-461-9999, they told me I would need to bring the bill of sale and the unique shipment ID number to their Calgary office: unit 162, bldg 175, Aero Way NE. Is the unique shipment ID the same as the tracking number?? Who knows?? So I called Fedex’s toll free line, 1-800-463-3339 to ask for the unique shipment ID number, they said I would have to go to the Fedex office in Calgary to get this information. I also asked them whether I could self-clear through CBSA, they told me no I can’t since they have already cleared it for me, but I could go to the Fedex office in Calgary and they would give me the paperwork to fill out if I still wanted to try.

    So off I went to the Fedex office in Calgary, 24 Aero Drive NE. I told them my story and they pulled my commercial invoice and receipt and explained the charges. Of the $128.34 Cdn, only $10.50 was FedEx’s fee!! They call it an advancement fee. Duties were $90.65 and the GST was $27.19, for a total of $117.84. Remember that my order was $339.81 (US), or about $443 Cdn. Duties on textiles are 20% (I’m told), and GST is 5%, so $118 seems like a reasonable estimate for the duties and taxes. They told me that by driving over to CBSA, I could pay the duties and tax myself, and save the $10. Hardly seemed worth it for the time it would take. Also, the people at the FedEx office were really nice and patiently explained it all to me.

    Unless I’m missing something here, it doesn’t seem to me that Fedex is “scamming” anyone, and they didn’t seem to charge a brokerage fee at all. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. Would’ve been better to arrange a second drop-off time with Fedex and just pay the $128. But at least now I know.

  9. I’ve dealt with DHL, UPS, and Fedex and Fedex is the worse one. All of them tells the total BS about how you can’t self clear, but they will provide the package’s manifest either by faxing or emailing to you. Fedex, however, refuses to do so siting privacy blah, blah, blah… The thing is, regardless if the manifest is sent, the person claiming for the package must go to the CBSA office and show ID to the CBSA agent. If nothing matches up, you won’t be able to do anything about the release of the package and also the package won’t be released from the courier’s warehouse. So, for any of these courier service to scam people into paying the extra customs and duty when the original shipping is already paid for, it’s ridiculous! It’s like you paid for delivery charges up front and then you have to pay for more delivery on delivery – WTF! I don’t mind paying for the GST and whatever duty is necessary based on Canadian law, but to have to pay a ransom charge that’s almost 50% of the cost of the merchandise?!?

    Why isn’t there laws in Canada to protect consumers in regards to how couriers are ripping us off?

  10. I as well do not have a CABS office in the city where I live and wonder if this process can be done over the phone? Thanks so much for all this info!

  11. Is it possible to self clear via CBSA by telephone, sending in documents, etc, in cases where you live a long way away from a CBSA inland office or do you absolutely need to do this in person?

  12. Since I have a UPS My Choice account I can change the delivery option before the first delivery attempt. I can request that it be held for pick-up at the warehouse or at a UPS Store.

    Does anybody know if the package has to be held for pick-up at the local UPS warehouse or can it be held at a local UPS store when self-clearing?

  13. Hi Ben,
    UPS guy misinformed you if you have not implicitly agreed to clear it by UPS on your behalf. You still can clear it yourself. Please follow instructions.
    Thanks,
    Trueler

  14. Hey i just refused the package at the door and told them i would self clear the package. Then the UPS guy said because its already cleared I would have to pay the brokerage? I sent the package back to their warehouse for now. Please HELP

  15. Hello,

    This is my recent experience with FedEx, hope it helps.

    My package from Sweden was shipped with FedEx International Economy and after 2 days in transit, I received a voicemail from FedEx notifying me of a duties/taxes charge of $20.66. My package valued at $72, so clearly brokerage fees were levied, which was surprising as I thought brokerage fees are inclusive when you ship with FedEx International Economy or the other faster methods.

    I called the 1-800-GoFedEx number to inquire how much of the $20.66 is duties/taxes and how much is brokerage. The representative, although courteous, was useless to say the least. I was transferred to a representative in Canada for further assistance after expressing my desire for self clearance.

    Steve, the Canadian rep., told me of the $20.66, $9.36 are taxes and $11.30 are brokerage fees. After telling Steve I’d like to self clear the package, he proceeded to marking my package as self clearance and explained the next steps. As he didn’t have the commercial invoice, which was not ready at the time since the package was still in transit, he said someone from their customs clearance department (or something like that) would be in contact with me once the package arrives in Canada and if I don’t hear anything within 2 days, just call them back.

    The following day, FedEx left another voicemail notifying me that they received my request for self clearance and that I should contact 1-844-248-1049 (M-F, 0800-1630) for more information and instructions. I called on Monday, chose Option 1 for something like customs/taxes/duties/ inquiries, Heather, the representative, said when the package arrives into Canada, they will have the commercial invoice ready for me to bring to CBSA office to pay the taxes, then bring the B15 form (taxes/duties payment receipt) to the warehouse where the package would be held to pick it up. She took down my email address to send the invoice to.

    Almost immediately after I ended the call with Heather, Dana, a representative from the same department called me to give me the same information and instructions. I guess they must have had Dana assigned to my package. Luckily she called because my email address failed to save into the system, perhaps it hadn’t gone through yet since Dana called right after I ended my previous call. Anyway, she said she will send me the commercial invoice the following morning when it touches down onto Canadian soil.

    As promised, Dana sent me the commercial invoice along with direction to the CBSA office at YYZ. I went into the office with the invoice and ID, paid the $9.36 in taxes and got my B15 form. The customs officer was actually confused at first since he was expecting a different invoice, but he came to realize that my package was already cleared by FedEx and all I needed was to pay the taxes and the B15 form. Then I drove to FedEx Don Mills warehouse (tracking showed my package was held at here and must be picked up within 5 business days), showed them my ID, gave them the form, they made a copy, and released the package to me. If I am not mistaken, the B15 allows FedEx/UPS/whatever couriers to get the taxes/duties they paid on our unbeknownst behalf back from CBSA. So if UPS ever tells you you can’t self clear the package once it’s in Canada because they’ve already cleared the package and paid taxes/duties on the it for you, it’s horsesh*t.

    Unlike UPS, FedEx seems to accommodate clients better. When I went through this with UPS, they kept giving me a run-around regardless of how nice and patient I was. However, FedEx was quick to respond to my request and provided me with everything that I need along with instructions. My tip to everyone is just to be patient and courteous to whoever answers your calls, maybe not UPS as you may need to be firm.

    Just remember to read ALL of Trueler’s helpful post and that you have a legal right to self clearance of shipments. You do NOT need to go to Windsor to self clear your package with UPS. Read the comments, there are many who’ve posted their experience when they went through this process with UPS, myself included. Good luck!

  16. Hi B,

    You should be able to self-clear the package yourself in GTA. It’s incorrect information from UPS that you must go to the port of entry in order to do so. They are telling it to everyone…

    Thanks,
    Trueler

  17. Hi Trueler,

    I have a package delivering from US that has been confiscated at the Windsor, ON port. I discovered it was confiscated because the shipper did not write the correct value of the package. I realize this is because I specifically asked about shipping and custom costs when I first inquired about purchasing the products (wooden furniture), and he assured me there would be no custom and duty charges so that I would be sold on the products.

    Anyway, I have been told by UPS to go back to the shipper and ask him to send the correct invoice to imagingfredricton@ups.com. I have done that and am waiting for this new invoice to be processed.

    In the meantime, I was told that to self-clear this package, I must go directly to the Windsor, ON port in person to do so. Otherwise, I have no choice but to let UPS clear the package on my behalf. Is this correct?

    I am in the GTA so I prefer not having to drive all the way to Windsor to clear my items. I am wondering if I allow for UPS to clear the items for me, am I committed to the brokerage fee? Am I still able to refuse the package at the door and self-clear the products?

    Thank you

  18. Would like to inform you all of an email address that you can send your B-15 form to instead of faxing it in.

    UPS Canada Brokerage: imagingfredericton@ups.com

    I got a confirmation email that mine had been received and that, “This is an incoming e-mail service only; no response will be generated”

  19. We recently purchased an item from the U.S. We didn’t get a choice of courier to deliver the product and we are not aware of the brokerage fees. The shipper used UPS. The slip from UPS indicated COD charge $90.00. We called UPS and tried to negotiate a lower fee as over half of the $90 was their brokerage fee. They indicated that’s a set price and they would not budge. The item cost $150 usd. We read this website and followed the instructions and paid only $25 to have the item self-cleared. Thank you for your instructions above, they are perfect and worked! Just an FYI – there is no CBSA office in Kitchener, we had to go to the office at the Breslau airport. They were very friendly and helpful and it was worth the drive and we still saved money. If UPS monitors these posts, you should know, we would have paid a reasonable price to have you take care of the paperwork but you were not willing to negotiate and half the price of the shipped item is ridiculous.

  20. I received a package via DHL which is currently being held at a local DHL facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I live.

    I called DHL and told them I wanted to self-clear the package, but they said you cant do that once delivery attempts have been made.

    They said if I want to self clear I would have to go to Hamilton, Ontario.

    I dont know if they are being truthful

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