How to Avoid UPS/FedEx (Canada) Brokerage Fees

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.

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 they 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 their delivery cost can be 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 the 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!

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

There are local CBSA (Canada Borders Service Agency) in major cities where you can pay applicable duties and taxes for imported goods. There is absolutely no need to drive to Canadian border points like Windsor or Fort Erie to clear your items.

Here is the way how to avoid UPS brokerage fees according to CBSA:

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.

In conclusion, in order to self-clear goods in local CBSA offices and avoid UPS, FedIX and other courier brokerage fees you will need following:
– Courier’s name
– Unique shipment identifier number: Courier must provide
– Shipment’s invoice: Courier must provide
– Place where the package is being held

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

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

Now you can avoid the outrageous UPS/FedEx behavior and force them to obey the law and let importers to self-clear without paying brokerage fees!

19 comments

  1. “But USPS delivery can take up to 6 weeks, and theirs delivery cost is higher than for UPS Ground.”

    Please don’t spread mis-information. The prices between the two are similar, and while UPS is faster, there is no chance that it takes 6 weeks. In fact, a 2-week shipment is on the very-slow side. It’s usually 7 business days, unless Customs needs to take an exceedingly long look – which is exceedingly rare to have a delay at all on anything under $100.

    UPS’ brokerage fees should be investigated as extortion.

    1. I think it depends on where you are shipping to in Canada. I’ve had shipments take 6 weeks stuck in customs. Borders cities to the US do receive packages a lot faster than more remote cities in Canada. Also UPS is less costly than USPS on larger packages but with smaller packages USPS is less expensive. UPS should be investigated for their brokerage fees.

      1. Everyone knows USPS is the best way to ship from US to avoid these illegal unsolicited fees. This comment is either ignorant or malicious. There is class action lawsuit against companies like UPS for these reasons. Frankly I cant believe UPS hasnt given up on this petty fraud. I mean why use UPS when they are offer nothing of benefit.The only thing that comes to mind is that they offer unrealistically low rates to the suppliers while the receivers end up picking up the tab under the inflated cost of brokerage fees.

  2. Blame the Canadian Gov’t which is sticking to idiotically low “de minimis” limits thanks to pressures from Canadian retailers that prefer to bend their Canadian customers over rather than actually compete. I’m all for “buying local”, but not when it is thanks to government assisted extortion. Note that the USA recently RAISED their “de minimis” limit to $800, while Canada is still $20. If this limit was raised, then UPS wouldn’t need to do any customs brokerage for shipments under the limit, and their fees would be waived.

    I don’t excuse the exorbitant rates, however, there is a non-insignificant amount paperwork required to clear customs, coupled with the fact that most shipments lack proper documentation. I’m sure UPS is happy with a low limit also.

    Educate everyone, and sign the petition:
    https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-399

  3. This petition is closed:
    https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-399
    With usual rhetoric response from the hill…

    A new petition is needed with wider awareness campaign, post on FB, Ebay, Aliexpress etc.

    Prior to Oct. 2016; I used to get my packages 30-45days, rarely did it get to or go over 60 days. Now it’s 4 or 5 months + if I get it at all…. I currently have a tracked package, arrived Canada Mar. 9, 2017, still waiting…

    Even Ecuador has a $400/4Kg import limit. Anything under $400 or 4Kg is imported free.

    Can-Post and CBSA collectively hold economy shipped packages well beyond the 60 days shelf life of ebay/credit card/Paypal, although paypal maybe 45 days. CBSA says by law they cannot hold Can Post packages longer than 60 days. Delays longer than that are Can Post. An ePacket arrives in less than 2 weeks, sometimes a week. Does Can Post get more money with ePacket service and ignore economy service. Sounds like United Airline policy, pay more get more, pay less get out….

    As for brokerage fees, couriers have been charging for rubber stamp ink for decades (since NAFTA) and I have avoided their “Service” cross border since. Post Office was far more efficient and cost effective as long as you don’t need package tomorrow….

  4. Too much complicated for me.
    And what if we have no car and need to take Taxi, Bus to at CBSA office?

    But I can understand for some, near CBSA office, that what you say is good.

    Thanks anyway !

  5. Anyone know if there is anything you can do after the fact? I felt pressured in that I wanted the thing being delivered, and was ignorant of my options at the time the driver was at my door. It felt like extortion to me, and I said as much to the driver, but I know he’s just doing his job. So frustrating.

    1. If you have paid at the door you have agreed to the charges by taking delivery and signing. You can try calling customer relations but your chances of getting a refund are slim. They have been doing these ‘collect on delivery’ charges for years and it has become a nice means of profit. Buyer beware! If you are ordering items from the USA, and you live within a reasonable driving distance to the border, try shipping them to a US address near the Canadian border. There are companies in many border cities that offer short term warehouse storage for packages. For a small fee (like $5.00) they will accept packages from FedEx, UPS, USPS and hold them for you to pick-up. And the actual shipping costs are much less because now you are paying US rates which are much less for any level service than shipping to Canada!

    2. I’m with you…. I feel so stupid, i just had to pay $120 for fucking less than $250 worth of clothes. Like c’mon.

  6. I ordered few items from Aliexpress and chose a Standard Aliexpress Shipping as usual. That way I had never ever paid any duties or brokerage fees. But for some reason the Seller shipped by UPS. In early June I received an email from UPS saying there was a shipment coming that had import fees due. I did a research and found out that I could do a self-clearing. So, I called UPS asking them to send me paperwork for that procedure. To cut long story short, I called three or four times but still did not have the papers even by the end of June. Last time I called, the guy on the other end said that they were not able to provide me with papers for self-clearing because they had not yet received the paperwork. But according to their website at that moment the package was already at their warehouse. Then he said I needed to check their website regularly and to give them another call once I see that the package was out for delivery. A couple of days later I just found the package at my door. I did not see UPS driver, nor signed for the package even though it was mentioned on UPS web site that signature is required. And I did not pay anything neither online or at the door. Well, I thought that probably they waved their fees. And few weeks later I received their bill to pay those f…….g brokerage fees I tried to avoid, and which is half of the price I paid for the item. Looks like they tricked me. Pure racket in my opinion. I think I will just ignore this bill.

  7. Your relative probably paid the UPS shipping rate, but you are being billed for the Duty and Canadian taxes owing, plus the UPS Canada brokerage charge. They only get applied when the package crosses into Canada. You can’t do much about Duty and Taxes, but by shipping UPS you are dealing with the worst courier for brokerage fees.

  8. Please please please do yourself a favour and NEVER deal with UPS if you have a choice! Bungled service, status as “ on its way” for a week or more, can’t guarantee a DAY they will deliver and then a demand to pay for duties, taxes and brokerage for a second time! Their survey tops off their incompetence. There is no question 3 on their own survey! How do they stay in business???

  9. The neglects to mention FedEx ground to Canada a second “scam” shipping service.
    I had 3 shipments sent to me by Fedex ground that at checkout were listed as “Free shipping”. Total value of the three shipments was less than $150.
    Three weeks later I go a invoice from Fedex for over $150 in import charges (in addition to the few dollars for actual duty and taxes) for this “free” shipping service. I never received any indication of these charges nor ever agreed to them. After months of arguing with FedEx they finally agreed to wave them. It is illegal to charge for a service in Canada that the customer has never been informed of or agree to. I do not understand how this continues.

  10. We had a package delivered with the C.O.D. info attached but the item was left on the doorstep. There were no directions on how to pay other than the fees to be collected by the driver. We just received an invoice in the mail on June 4th saying that our payment was overdue on May 25th and still no explanation of how to pay. Any advice on how to deal with this? Today is Saturday and all the UPS offices locally are closed on the weekends.

    1. Dont pay it, the minute you pay it you have consented to have them as your broker. If the government sends you a letter requesting duties pay it. ignore ups you did not give them permission to broker anything for you.

  11. Get your own broker. They charge $20 to clear your package and you pay duty plus GST. If something is made in the US. there is no duty charge due to free trade agreement between Canada, US and Mexico. You pay just the $20 broker fee and GST. Try Argo Customs. That’s the company I use and they are great. However, still be aware of UPS racketeering practices. They will try to prepay your custom clearance and then still charge you fees even with your own broker. This is illegal without your permission but they do it anyway. So move fast when you get your invoice. Also let your vendor know who your broker is so they can send you the tracking number before UPS shows up at their door.

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