How to Avoid UPS Broker Fees From Online Shopping.

Oh good! You must be sick of paying made-up, ridiculous UPS broker fees too! So was I, so I figured out how to legally avoid paying them to scammy courier companies.  It’s easy and all the instructions on how to do it are right here.

Yep. This post is especially for my Canadian readers or anyone else who is subject to UPS  “broker fees” on online items you’ve shopped for and had shipped to your house. 

How to Avoid Paying Broker Fees to Courier Companies

Broker fees are a scam and I want everyone to stop paying them right now.  In this post I’m going to teach you how to avoid paying any and all broker fees.  Legally.  Because I hate them.  And I like you.

Here we go.

(if you’d like the quick cheat sheet so you can see how easy it is, skip to the bottom of the post, then come back up here to read exactly how to do everything)

I’m happy to pay UPS or any other company whatever fee they charge to deliver my package but when they want to randomly charge some arbitrary amount to “broker” my package as it crosses the border I start to get my back up.

And when I get my back up, I get angry and start typing furiously on the computer looking for answers.

in 2015  … I got my back up.

I had ordered (yet another) chicken door opener off of the Internet from a nice man somewhere in The United States.

Before it made it to my door I got this email from UPS.

 

email-1

When I got the email my first thought was I’M NOT PAYING IT. I’ll send the stupid chicken door BACK.  Broker fees are a scam.  A complete scam.

#1.  What the fine folks at UPS don’t tell you is what exactly these broker fees are going to be.  As soon as you allow them to be your “broker” by saying “yes go ahead” in your reply email they can charge you any amount they want.

#2. What the fine folks at UPS also don’t tell you is YOU can broker your own package.  It’s called “self clearing”. And it’s ridiculously easy.

This is how I responded to the UPS email.

 

email-2

 

The first email I got in return was basically … “Um … I’m not sure about that.  You’re gonna have to call this number”.  I did not call the number.  I emailed them again.  A day later I got what I needed from UPS to “self clear” my package.

  1. Instructions on where and how to self clear the package including phone numbers and fax numbers (cause this is 1982) which has a spot for stamping by customs.
  2. The commercial invoice which also has a place for stamping by customs.
  3. And the regular invoice provided by whoever shipped you the item.

Here’s the email they sent me and all the documents that came with it so you can see what they look like:

 

 

email-3

 

UPS self clearing form.

 

Legally they have to give you this information.  They cannot say no. They cannot claim it can’t be done (although they have done exactly this in the past). In my case after my email got to the right person I got a very prompt and efficient response from UPS. No hassles.

If you get an email like the one I got just copy and paste the body of my email and include your shipment order number.  (I blurred mine out).

If you don’t get an email first and someone from UPS brings your package to your door asking you for the broker fees say no.  SAY NO.  Say you’re going to self clear your package and send them on their way. The second you sign anything, you can’t go back.  You will have agreed (knowingly or not) to UPS acting as your broker.

Once they leave call  UPS and at 1-800-742-5877 and press “3”.  You will be connected to broker services. Tell them you’re going to self clear your item and you’d like the documents you need for that emailed to you. Make sure you have your tracking number handy.

 

Once you have the documents you need you just take them to your nearest CBSA office.  That’s the Canada Border Services Agency.  You’ve probably never noticed a CBSA office before but they’re all around us in Canada.  We’re filthy with CBSA offices. You just didn’t know it.  What you need is a CBSA office that handles self clearing of items.  Those are Inland offices and they’re fewer and farther between than regular CBSA offices.  They’re usually at airports but can also be found other places.

If you’re lucky there’s an inland office near you.  Mine was at my local small airport, a 20 minute drive away.

Here’s a link that will take you to a map of all the Inland Offices in Canada so you can check right away if one is near you.

How far you want to drive will probably depend on how much money your broker fees with UPS would be.  So let’s talk about that a tiny little bit.

UPS has decided that they will charge you a percentage of whatever the value of your package is.  So if you have a package that’s worth between $40-$60 UPS has randomly decided they will charge you $16.75.   If your item was $40, then you’ll be paying almost 40% in broker fees.  40%!!!!!!!

The higher the value of your package, the lower the percentage you pay for your broker fees BUT they still charge more money based on how much your package is worth.

So you pay $16.75 for a $40 package, $30.40 for a $150 package, $71.80 for a $750 package and so on.  The higher the value of your package, the more money you’ll be paying.

EVEN THOUGH THEY ALL TAKE THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF WORK by UPS.   Scam.

You can see the full list of the UPS broker fees here.

 

Front door of Canadian Border Services agency.

 

I took my documents to my local CBSA office and told them I was self clearing an item.  I was one of two people there by the way. No waiting in line, no paying for parking even! I didn’t have to explain what I was doing to them, didn’t have to convince them I was allowed to do this, I just gave them my documents and they said, thank you ma’am, I’ll be back in a second.

And in a second they were back with my forms (now stamped), an additional form,  and a bill for my duty and taxes to pay.   In this case there was no duty because the item was made in the U.S.A. and I just had to pay my Canadian taxes on it. I paid my bill and they brought me my B-15 form.  That’s the form you need to send to UPS to prove you paid your duty and taxes.

Your item is now self cleared.

Self clearing just means you pay the duty and taxes yourself.  That’s all it means.  That’s it.  There’s no brokerage office, no mounds of paperwork, no nothin’.  Instead of UPS paying your duty and taxes ahead of time, you pay them when your item arrives in Canada.

Yup.

Broker fees.  Scam.

Various documents needed to self clear an item from UPS laid on black background.

 

When you get home, scan the B-15 form that border services gave you along with the form titled “self accounting procedures” and email it to UPS.

By the next morning my package was delivered.

Is it a pain? A tiny bit but I felt GREAT after doing it.  Suck it UPS.  I’ll self clear my own items.  Also, I’m confident that the Canada Services Border Agency is up to date on when or when not to apply duty.  UPS has been known to apply duty to things they shouldn’t.  Like paper goods.  Instruction manuals, books, concert tickets should all be duty free.

Other online buying tips for Canadians?  If you have the option, don’t use UPS or Fedex.  Instead have your item shipped by USPS which is The United States Postal Service.  No scammy broker fees there.

If you are ordering items under $20 then UPS is fine.  There are no broker fees on items that range in price from $0 – $20.

How to Avoid Broker Fees

How to Avoid Broker Fees

How to avoid the scam UPS broker fees when receiving online shopping orders.

Instructions

  1. Do NOT agree to UPS acting as your broker. Not through email or when they’re at your door. Just say no and do NOT accept your package.
  2. Email or call UPS and say you are going to self clear your item. Ask them to email you the necessary documents.
  3. Bring those documents to your nearest Canada Border Services Agency (must be Inland offices)
  4. Pay your actual taxes and get your stamped forms back along with the B-15 form they provide.
  5. Email the forms back to UPS to prove you paid your owing taxes.
  6. Wait for your package to arrive free of charge.

Notes

UPS will try to avoid doing this. They'll pretend not to know what you're talking about. They'll avoid emailing or calling you back.

PESTER them if you have to because they DO know what you're talking about and they HAVE TO by law give you the information you're asking for.

How to Self Clear an Item

  1.  Do NOT agree to UPS acting as your broker. Not through email or when they’re at your door.
  2. Email or call UPS and say you are going to self clear your item. Ask them to email you the necessary documents.
  3. Bring those documents to your nearest Canada Border Services Agency (must be Inland offices)
  4. Pay your taxes and get your stamped forms back along with the B-15 form they provide.
  5. Email the forms back to UPS to prove you paid your owing taxes.
  6. Wait for your package to arrive free of charge.

Go back to top of post.

I’ve  used this technique several time since this post and I’ve received countless emails from happy Internet searchers who found my post. This isn’t easily found information.  But it is important information as far as sticking it to companies that already make obscene amounts of money goes.

Happy online shopping and everyone say it with me one last time.  UPS can suck it.

 
 

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How to Avoid UPS Broker Fees From Online Shopping.

217 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    Battling the same issue now. Very frustrating.

    Have a couple of questions:
    1. In from Mississauga and the port of entry is in Windsor. When clearing for your self, do they have to ship the item back to the Port of entry?
    2. After clearing, will they re-deliver the package to my address? They told me i have to pickup from the port of entry.

    Thanks in advance

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jim. You absolutely do NOT need to pick it up from the point of entry. They’re just trying to make it difficult for you. You go to the nearest self clearing office – possibly the airport for you. You present them with the forms, sign the appropriate paperwork, pay the duty & taxes owed and then you send that info to UPS. UPS is required by law to them release and deliver the package to you. ~ karen!

      • JIM says:

        Hi Karen,

        Thanks for the reply. I confirmed this with CBSA and UPS, they will redeliver the package to my address once cleared.

        Thanks to your post, will be saving approx $80 of nonsense charges.

        Let’s see how it goes within the next few days! Hopefully i get my package safe and sound!

      • Karen says:

        Good luck! ~ karen!

  2. Mynestcrafts says:

    I love this post because it is helping me to self clear a commercial package I received. Just one correction to the inland CBSA offices part. You have to go in person to the port of entry for your package. I got the following response when I emailed my closest inland office

    To self clear commercial goods a B3 accounting documents must be completed at the location where the shipment is located. In this case office is Hamilton 0417.

    Other option will be to use a Broker of your choice or request UPS to do it on your behalf.

    Hope this helps others similar to me

  3. Loni says:

    Hi there – similar situation here. I just received a bill of $217 for shoes my son ordered. The shoes were delivered and left at my door (no signing of anything). I also DID NOT receive an email from UPS prior to the delivery.

    I just called UPS – they said the shipper chose UPS. Should I not have still had the right to refuse the delivery?? If they told me at time of delivery I would be receiving a bill for $217, I would have said forget it!

    UPS has given me an email address of canadabrokeragecs@ups.com to dispute this.

    Looking for advice??

    Loni

    • Karen says:

      Hi Loni. I’m afraid I’ve given all the advice I have experience with. But if you didn’t authorize it, then no, you aren’t required to pay. You can dispute it and self clear or you can tell them you didn’t agree to accept it and you want it returned. ~ karen!

  4. Judy says:

    Hello, I’m in the same situation now, I ordered stuff from china for my little at home boutique, first 2 orders are shipped now yesterday ups robber called me and said to email them my Canada revenue agency business number! That i had a package waiting to be cleared, so now I’m not sure where to start on how to get my stuff home, my boutique is pending on those orders, and the least to say I have about 10 more orders coming in the next few weeks so will the same happen to each order ?

  5. Anoch says:

    Hi there,

    I ordered a clothing item and I got hit with a pretty big fine. I called UPS stating that I’d like to self declare and that I’d like the forms sent to my email. They told me that the order has already cleared customs. Is this a problem? They told me that I’d receive the forms in 24 hours. Should I keep calling them to send me the forms? Also, if they deliver the package to me at my doorstep do I accept it or what should I do? Sorry I have a lot of questions as I’ve never done this with UPS before.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anoch. It doesn’t matter if the items have already cleared customs. If they deliver the package, refuse it, and tell the driver you’re going to self clear it. Just keep calling or emailing UPS. Some people get help right away, others have to keep calling. Good luck! ~ karen

  6. Sabrina says:

    I’ve used this twice now and it definitely works…just have to keep bugging them for the required documents.

    Will this work for FedEx too?! Anyone know?
    Thanks for any help.

  7. Veronica says:

    Hello! What a useful article, thanks so much for sharing! Would this work for UPS Canada if my package is coming from Hong Kong instead of the US.

    Also can I pay for the fee at a Canada Customs office in Vancouver if the package is in Toronto?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Veronica. As far as I know you can pay for it at any certified customs office regardless of where the package is. The package will be released to you by UPS once they have proof of duty paid. ~ karen!

  8. So glad I found your information. I need on going medication for my dog but there are regularly supply chain issues in Canada. I’m expecting my first shipment this Friday. I just sent an email to UPS a few moments ago. Let’s see how this plays out.

    I also order merchandise from a company that ships with Fedex. Their fees are ridiculous too. My vendor did me a favor by shipping and charging me for a partial order since the whole custom order wasn’t ready. I choked the $50 brokerage fee down as I always do. When the remainder of my order arrived, the taxes due were $11.56, but also included was another $50 dollars for brokerage. Arggghhh.

    • Update: I have now requested the paperwork 4 times. Just as Michael L. wrote in the comments on January 21, my most recent email says I must to go to Winnipeg to clear my package–the point of entry. I used the words Karen wrote to tell them I absolutely do not have to go to Winnipeg. Let’s see if anyone at UPS is paying attention.

  9. LJ says:

    Woooooow. I am in the middle of a UPS battle right now and so happy I came across your page. Same story as everyone else. I ordered something from Kentucky. I got an email saying it would be delivered the next day and I owed them $386, and $137 was their brokerage fee and the rest is HST. I emailed their “customer support” ahem BS department….got no reply. I called them and said I wanted to self clear, they said I would get the documentation in 24 hours. Again, BS. Called at 25 hours, they said I would receive the documentation in 2-3 hours. BS. Called again in 4 hours. Now they say they have already cleared it, someone from their office will have to physically go to the port of landing and UNCLEAR it, so they can send me the documentation so I can clear it. Apparently now I will have the documentation tomorrow morning between 10 and 12. Right, I bet. I sense more BS on the way. Uggggggg, so frustrated.

    • Karen says:

      It’s ridiculous. But I’m pretty happy that you’re seeing it through! The more people who do it the more apt UPS is to give up just accept that they can’t randomly charge people insane amounts of money for nothing. Maybe one day they’ll develop a streamlined system for people who are wanting to self clear. Ha! ~ karen!

      • LJ says:

        Update. I sat here until 12:00 and picked up the phone fuming ready to tear a strip off someone. As I was on the phone, the email came through…12:01. I drove an hour and 20 minutes to get the paperwork filled out, and saved myself $147. The original amount on the UPS invoice wasn’t even accurate. I just got home, emailed the info to their customs department. As I hit send, the UPS truck drove in. I went out and he wanted to charge me the full amount. I said heck no…I paid my own. HE WOULDN’T GIVE ME MY PACKAGE!!. It has to go back through the system and be brought back to my house tomorrow. Even though I showed him the paperwork that said I paid. I just can’t even believe it.

  10. CB says:

    I’ve been fighting with UPS for a month now. After telling them the package could sit happily in their warehouse until I did the paperwork to self-clear, they dropped off the package while I was talking to them on the phone. At that point they said I didn’t owe anything, and there was no COD on the package.

    I got the package and the self clear forms (via email) at the same time. I called CBSA to see if I still needed to go there and self-clear, but they said if there was no COD on the package, it shouldn’t be necessary. They did suggest keeping all the paperwork, just in case.

    Thankfully, I did keep everything, because a month after my package was delivered, I received a bill from UPS. They had added all kind of additional fees to the brokerage fee. I fought with them and they agreed to drop the brokerage fees, but still expected me to pay $12 in duty for a gift item. They said I had to pay them or the government would come after me for not paying duty on the item.

    I took the self-clear forms, and the packaging (which thankfully I had saved), along with the contents (including the card my friend had sent me with the gift) to the nearest CBSA office. It turns out you can still self-clear in some cases after a package is delivered. I was told by the CBSA people that UPS would not have delivered that package to me if they had paid duties on my behalf. They would have collected money from me first.

    UPS claimed to have paid duties which they said I owed them, but that was a lie. They didn’t pay duties on it at all. So I was able to self-clear almost a month after the package was delivered, and CBSA didn’t charge me any money at all. The $12 would have gone to UPS, not the government, so it was clearly a scam.

    Once I emailed the forms to UPS, they apologized for the inconvenience, but I’m still waiting for a written receipt to show I don’t owe UPS any money. I have no idea if this is over.

    • Karen says:

      Yup. That sounds like UPS. Sorry about your interaction with them but good for you for following up. Everyone just blindly pays them because you assume a large company is charging you legitimate fees. They are not and they should definitely be regulated. ~ karen!

  11. Derwin says:

    Does UPS always email you? I cannot for the life of me find anything in my inbox on a 150 CAD item I ordered.

    They removed the $10.50 in brokerage fees when I called them, but would not budge on the $5 “COD/Online Fee”. I have no idea what that is.

    I paid $15 total to UPS after the reduction. The initial bill was $30, and they gave me a discount of $5 off the original bill for unknown reasons (it was included on the original invoice).

  12. Michael Leenheer says:

    My package was sent to a Port of Entry that is not in my city – UPS tells me the Port of Entry is in Winnipeg but I live in Edmonton. Can I ask them to forward it to my own city? This feels like a trick to make me pay their rates as I would need to be physically present at the Port to pay the fees.

    • Ana says:

      Hey Michael. This reply may be too late… But you absolutely do not have to be at the port of entry to pay your duties and taxes. UPS tried to tell me the same story on the phone and that I would have to pick up my package in the middle of nowhere… So I told them firmly to email me the paperwork so I can clear my own package, and once I email back the clearance proof I expect the package to show up at my door within a few days. That is exactly what unfolded. Be persistent and tell them that it is within your right to clear your own packages, and they are a shipping company paid to deliver the package to the address on the waybill. It may take a couple of phone calls, so be ready for that.

  13. Andrew says:

    Hey Karen – super helpful! Do you know if I can go to an IAS (Inland Alternate Service) location to self-clear, or do I need to go to a full INLAND location (that’s probably near an airport)?

  14. Karina says:

    Thank you so much for this page. I just saved myself 50$ in UPS fees and “duties”. The CBSA office confirmed there was no duties because everything was made in the US. I just had to pay HST. Since I live less than a 15-minute drive from my CBSA Inland office, I will never accept a package at the door again. What a scam! This is soooo gratifying. Thank you again!

  15. CB says:

    Thank you so much!

    A friend sent me a gift via UPS and had no idea that they would add on a $50 fee. When I got the first email, I thought it was a scam and ignored it because I wasn’t expecting a package. I only let her know because the emails had her name on them, and I thought she had been hacked.

    Anyway, when you phone UPS customer service, they have a “brokerage fees” number in the menu. (I guess this comes up a lot.) As soon as I said they didn’t have permission to act as my broker, they quickly said they would be sending me the required paperwork. But they also suggested I could get my package more quickly if I just gave them the money.

    I told them that the package could happily take up space in their warehouse until I get my paperwork completed.

  16. Carmela says:

    The same thing happened to me a few days ago! The parcel was left at my door with the giant red C.O.D bill on it. I called UPS (the number on the invoice) and found that it just kept ringing endlessly. So I hung up and then tried again a few hours later, and same thing – but this time I decided to press zero while it was ringing and then it took me to their “menu” but didn’t read out the options so I just pressed 1. Anyway, once I got on the phone with the customer service rep I basically told them: I did not provide consent to UPS to clear the package for me, and that had I been notified ahead of time whether I would like to have UPS broker for me or not, then I would have said No and self-cleared my parcel. I also told them to take it up with the seller, since I was never aware of this fee to begin with. They waived the brokerage fee and all I had to pay was the tax.

  17. Freda says:

    Hi,
    I ordered items from USA company, value approx $70 CDN. Today, parcel is left on my doorstep, no delivery guy rings doorbell, no phone call or email prior. Huge red COD bill on package. They want $44 CDN. Although their website says it should be $19.
    I’ve notified seller that they should change shipper. I’m not paying fees I didn’t agree to. Their invoice has a “power of attorney “ that states I’ve agreed to fees, signature not required.

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