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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- The commercial invoice which also has a place for stamping by customs.
- 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:
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.
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.
Broker fees. Scam.
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 - $20.
- Do NOT agree to UPS acting as your broker. Not through email or when they're at your door.
- Email or call UPS and say you are going to self clear your item. Ask them to email you the necessary documents.
- Bring those documents to your nearest Canada Border Services Agency (must be Inland offices)
- Pay your taxes and get your stamped forms back along with the B-15 form they provide.
- Email the forms back to UPS to prove you paid your owing taxes.
- Wait for your package to arrive free of charge.
I've used this technique several time since this post and I've received countless emails from happy Internet searchers who found my post. This isn't easily found information. But it is important information as far as sticking it to companies that already make obscene amounts of money goes.
Happy online shopping and everyone say it with me one last time. UPS can suck it.
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après plusieurs courriels et communication téléphonique avec UPS, on m'a répété à plusieurs reprise qu'il était maintenant impossible de dédouaner un colis qui avait déjà été dédounané au port de Windsor. Une fois passez Windsor, « à cause de la COVID », on ne peut pas intercepter le colis m'a-t-on dit chez UPS. Je devais donc m'aquiter des 96$ de taxes et frais de courtage en douane que je n'avais pas autorisés. J'ai tenu mon bout, j'ai demandé à ce que ma demande soit transmette les documents me permettant de régler moi-même les taxes pour l'importation de l'item. UPS a pris plus de 4 jours avant de me transmettre les dits documents.
Entre temps, une première tentative de livraison du colis a eu lieu, j'ai demandé au livreur de bien vouloir me donner la copie de la facture et du document UPS me demandant le payer les frais. Avec cette copie de facture, je me suis présenté au bureau de l'ASFC pour m'acquitté de mon dû. J'ai payé la TPS et TVQ sur le prix déclaré sur la facture commerciale et évité les frais de courtage en douane exigés par UPS. À noté que UPS me facturait seulement la TPS alors que le bureau de l'ASFC de Montréal m'a réclamé également la TVQ.
Au final, j'ai payé 50% de ce que me réclaimait UPS, donc une économie de 48$!
UPS a quand même fini par me transmettre les documents pour procéder au « self clearance » du colis. J'ai retourné les documents UPS estampés par l'ASFC et le formulaire de « Déclaration en détail des marchandises occasionnelles » qui confirmait que je m'étais acquitté des frais et que le colis était maintenant libéré des douanes.
Je m'attends à ce que le colis soit livré demain...
Ne vous laissé plus berné par UPS, vous pouvez régler vous même votre dû à l'ASFC et vous sauver des frais prohibitifs de UPS!
Merci encore pour la marche à suivre... ca fonctionne!
Fred! De Rien! Sorry it was such a pain but UPS doesn't always make it easy.🙄 ~ karen!
And THAT dear one, is why this admiring geezer only uses Amazon Canada as his source for purchased absurdities he sends to a certain delightful blogger residing up there in Canadia. Glad you found a 'relatively' simple way to navigate the absurd waters of international commerce. What a Royal P.I.A. as some might say. Not me of course.
Thanks Randy, lol. This post has actually come in pretty handy for consumers. So much so that UPS is ignoring everyone who asks to self clear. I feel so powerful. ~ karen!
Thank you for sharing this information and helping so many people. I went online to see the breakdown. Here it is:
Freight charges 0
Brokerage fee 10
Government charges 171.78
UPS customs brokerage charges 11.30
Brokerage HST/GST 1.30
Are government charges a scam? Are they misquoting Duty fee? I’m wondering where is the scam because the brokerage is very little.
Hi Nida. I think this "Government charges" is new language. I don't remember it (I haven't had to self clear in a few years now). You can just ask them what the government charges are. But I'd just do what I said, get them to send you the required paperwork and take it to your customs office. Then you KNOW you're paying the honest, true amount you owe. ~ karen!
Any idea what someone might do if there isn't a CBSA office close by? The closest to me is a 2 hour drive.
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I told UPS that I would clear my package but its been 6 days and thy have not sent the needed documents. They are charging an obscene amount of money which is way higher than the actual value of the package. Everytime I call then they say that I should be receiving it in another day.But its been 6 days and today they say that the customs officials are the ones who should send the document. I don't know what to do . Any advice?
I got their invoice in the mail but I've already received my package weeks ago. Should I even pay anything? (It's only $12 but still)
Thank you for posting the article its very informative. I received a notice from UPS regarding the brokerage fee due. Unfortunately I went online and paid the fee (I received a notice from UPS later that day, stating the payment had not yet been applied - must be a discrepancy with their records). The package has still not been delivered. Am I able to contact UPS ask for a refund for the brokerage fee payment and state that I will self clear and request the necessary documents?
Started the "process" yesterday by telling the UPS agent that I wanted to self clear my package.
Called this morning again to verify if there was an update on my case and another agent told my that there was no information at all about self clearing in my delivery information. Looks like I will call them again... many times
Thank you so much for this information...UPS as well sent numerous delivery notifications and then an invoice for the outrages fees and your information was very helpful so thank you for taking the time to research it and share it.
Hi Karen! I just wanted to thank you so much for this amazing, detailed article! You literally saved me $38 CAD from those scammers. I purchased some keyboard accessories from the U.S that costed $116 CAD in total and they wanted to charge me $51 and something (at the door they wanted $58!! They can inflate it as much as they want).
After 2 calls, I finally got in contact with one agent who sent me the invoice paper but did not send the other one (must be 2 manifest papers in total). I had to try to contact them again but a wonderful lady working at the local UPS near the CBSA Office printed the 2 papers for me.
All in all, I paid $13.80 CAD at the CBSA Office. That's it. Package received the day next. :-)
It's just sad that such practices are allowed in a country like Canada, it should be ILLEGAL.
This worked great and saved me a bunch of money. UPS was surprisingly easy to work with, I called the number and they emailed the next day with with easy to follow instructions. Went to the CBSA office and it took literally two minutes to pay the taxes.
UPS dropped off my package the next day with no charges. Suck it UPS!!
Thank you for posting this, I wouldn't have had the confidence to try this otherwise.
You're welcome John, lol. I know your fear. I was the same way when I first figured it out and did it. ~ karen!
Thank you for this Karen. You outlined how to do this very well. I have a high value package coming from US to Canada and I'm not ever paying brokerage fees again. Last time I had something from the US I got a surprise invoice from Fedex and swore I would never pay for that again.
It's insanity! ~ karen
Okay BUT I can’t find any info in my nearest CBSA agency that offers this service in the GTA (ON, Toronto). The ones I think I found have zero information. If anyone in the GTA has info, please let me know.
What is hilarious UPS just drop my package in the lobby of my buiding complex. Crappy service as usual, I don't understand why any business would use courier, just awful. I found the package like a day later by luck. UPS expect me to pay them their stupid "fee"? They don't even have my package as hostage.
I am planning to call UPS, ask them to waive the fee so I only pay the CBSA custom.
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Thank you for this!!!!!
I ordered active wear from a company in Miami and my total package came to $125 after taxes, and UPS had the nerve to charge me $112 for IMPORT FEES!!!!! I couldn't believe it. There's absolutely no way I am paying double for my purchase. That is absolutely insane.
Direct phone number for UPS Brokerage is 1-800-263-8125 (to overcome the annoying phone trees).
Perfect, thanks. ~ karen!
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UPS brokerage fees are the BIGGEST scam!! They wanted to charge me $73….yep, $73, in brokerage fees on a $200 package.
This is the second time I’ve called for self clearance, and it went the EXACT same both times
Me: I’d like to self clear, please email me the docs
UPS: sure, you’ll receive in 72 hrs.
4 days later. Nothing
Ups: oh sorry, we’ll send those to you immediately *verifies email*
2 days later. Nothing
UPS: oh, we’ll just charge you the taxes and waive the brokerage fee.
Seriously, same thing both times. Fight, never pay it!!
I'm sure that's their directive. The same thing happens to a lot of people. They say they're going to send you the documents and then just don't. UPS definitely makes you fight for what's yours. :/ ~ karen!
Great article! Read it while on hold with UPS to dispute an $85 brokerage fee (42% of the total value, no customs or duties applied) + taxes + Canadian taxes (no getting around that). My wife accepted the package and payed the UPS driver (in disbelief and nearly in tears). We called UPS and after a short explanation of the charges, I asked to be put in touch with a supervisor. After 30+ minutes on hold we called again on a separate phone, while still on hold with the first phone… the customer service agent that picked up went through the same explanation of charges, but after I explained that, had we known, we would have “self cleared” our order or used USPS/CPS they immediately reversed the charges for the “brokerage fee” - Happy in the end, and better prepared for future deliveries. Thank you so much! Cheers!