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.



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.

  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:





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.


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.


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.


  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.


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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  1. Aldrin says:

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  2. Li Yu says:

    oh my god that is really helpful I have buy some children colors from erouop they charge me over $330 to duty fee that is make me feel so Bad! So I can do self clear!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Li Yu! Yes you can but you have to really bug them! I’ve had a lot of people recently say that UPS has been making the process as difficult as possible by not emailing people the documents they need. So if they refuse, or if they don’t send you what you need – keep calling and bothering them. ~ karen!

  3. tonnic says:

    I have a $11.64 charge that I have and they said to change to self-clearing that there is a UPS fee of $15 to transfer it… WHAT THE ACTUAL F&CK

    • Karen says:

      I’ve heard from other readers of this post that they’re making it harder and hard to self clear although not impossible. Things like not sending documents when they say they will, not calling people back, saying that self-clearing is not a thing … So my guess is now they’ve implemented a fee. Or, maybe they haven’t and are just saying that. It’s hard to say with UPS since they’re so unscrupulous. I”m not sure what to recommend at this point other than to keep trying by calling back. ~ karen!

  4. Jay says:

    FYI: The email address you need to send your CBSA documentation to at UPS is:

  5. Angela says:

    ***If you are currently embroiled in a battle ti get your package with UPS, here’s a tip that might help:

    • They tell you to call 1-800-PICK-UPS. From what I’m reading, this is the main line that everyone calls, and it seems the customer service agents are told to hard-line customers, because literally everyone ends up getting push-back and resistance re: brokerage stuff.

    • Instead, try calling 1-800-335-8763. My local UPS store gave me this # when I called after being on hold forever, having the call dropped, etc. – it was brutal. He said I should get through right away here, and I did! No selecting from a menu, no waiting, just straight to an actual person.

    • I think these customer service people (on the alternate number I provided above) are not the same customer service reps who answer calls on the main phone #, and have the authority to actually do things to help you.

    • After having trouble locating the invoice needed to send me (not the commercial invoice, but the invoice from the sender of the package that they would’ve used to clear the package themselves), the customer service rep simply apologized for the issue and offered to waive my brokerage fee all together. I held for 10 mins while he got ahold of my driver to let him know, since the package was en route (again, I rejected it yesterday and asked them to come back today) and now I have my package.

    • Tip: don’t get mad at the customer service rep (or, to rephrase, don’t let them know you’re angry, haha). Stay calm and professional, and each time they give you an excuse, politely explain again that you need the paperwork and it’s illegal to withhold it, since that amounts to holding your package hostage for the brokerage fees, and not allowing you to clear it yourself. Focus on the “illegal” part. And if all else fails, just ask them to wave the brokerage fees. If you’ve had a decent repertoire with the customer service agent, you might get the cost dropped.

    • Tip for dealing ANY customer service line/representative: if the first person you call – no matter which company you’re calling – sounds snotty, rude, ambivalent, or is just giving you trouble, just hang up and call back. Play phone roulette until you get someone who sounds decent and who actually wants to help, and explain the issue you’re having from the top without referencing the fact that you’ve already called (once, twice, three times?) and had no luck. It works!

    • Gavin says:

      Thanks for the tips Angela. I called 1-800-335-8763, got through to a polite person immediately. UPS knocked $20 off my $160 dollar amount ($80 plus tax was the brokerage fee). I would still avoid UPS to Canada at all costs but at least this was something.

  6. Angela says:

    So I was on the phone FOREVER with UPS & had the call drop after an hour, trying to get the email address to ask for/receive the forms. After holding again forever, I called the UPS store local to me and told them what was happening; they gave me a phone # that would have no wait time (in case whoever is reading it wants that # it’s: 1-800-335-8763).

    The customer service rep emailed me the commercial invoice, but couldn’t find (somehow) the invoice from the shipper. They kept saying they didn’t have it in their system. That’s totally bogus though – they needed that invoice to clear my package themselves so that they could attempt to charge me ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN dollars for my package.

    After refusing to give it to me for the fifth time, I told them it would be illegal not to provide it; they can’t hold my package hostage unless I pay THEM for brokerage fees.

    30 minutes into the call, after I started that last line of argument, I think I just wore them down. They just offered to remove the brokerage fees all together as a “one time complimentary service”, so I could receive my package. Hurray!

    I never would have known that I could fight back (so to speak) against these charges if I didn’t find your post – so THANK YOU! I likely would’ve spent even more time holding, attempting to resolve this issue, so you saved me not only money but a lot of frustration and time.

    Thanks again, super excited to have discovered this blog. Can’t wait to check out what else you’ve written about! Cheers!

    – Angela from Ontario

    • Angela says:

      One thing I wanted to add that made me giggle:

      When they insisted they didn’t have the invoice from the shipper in their system (crazy how they had it when THEY did the brokerage service, eh?) I dropped all pretences and got super frank.

      The following is how the conversation went:

      ME: “You know how it sounds to me when you say you don’t have the invoice anymore, but DID have it before, so you can charge me now and I can’t just clear it myself, right?”

      UPS: “I’m sorry ma’am it isn’t in our system…” ( x 5)

      ME: “Listen. I found a guide to self-clear my package when dealing with UPS, and you know what it said?”

      UPS: “No, what?”

      ME, reading from your website: “Ask UPS to email you the necessary documents to self clear. 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.”


      ME: …So can we get on with it then?

      UPS: *sighs* okay. Why don’t I just waive the brokerage fees for you?

      Haha! Def gave me a laugh when it was clear they knew that I knew their game. So funny. (But also so annoying & wrong that they do this.)

  7. Garth says:

    Thank you for the great post! We recently had friends in Florida send us back 2 paintings we had originally given to someone down there that passed away. UPS arrived at the door asking a total of $175. for brokerage fees. Caught unawares and told they would be sent back to sender and only released if brokerage fees were paid. We were pressured into paying. I was so steamed up I searched the Internet on the relevance of Customs and Brokerages and found your post. I will definitely avoid UPS (scammers!!!!!!) and do the self clearing if presented with a similar situation in the future. Thanks again for your very useful information.

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome Garth! UPS is becoming more and more evasive when people ask for documentation to self clear. So if it happens again be FIRM. ~ karen!

  8. Ashley says:

    Hi Karen!
    Super appreciate this article. I’ve been trying to get the self-declare documents from UPS for 2 weeks now but they never send it to me. I’ve called them 5 times and talked to a supervisor, but I always get the same respond “You’ll receive the email within 24 hours”. I’ve lost hope that I can self declare my package and honestly have no idea what I can do…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ashley. I’ve had a lot of people say this is happening. UPS is doing it on purpose. In other words, they’re screwing with you. Try to get someone on the phone and do not get off the phone until they have sent the email. There is no need for 24 hours. They have the records and everything right there to send. It’s infuriating, I know!!! Good luck. I have NO idea why this behaviour by UPS isn’t illegal. ~ karen!

  9. Denis L says:

    Wow, this actually worked! I called UPS knowing my package from the US was arriving soon, and they told me that they would send the forms, but never did. When UPS rang my door bell, I told them that I’d pay through CBSA… the driver did not care, and said he’ll leave it here and I can pay. So I called UPS and told them that the package was left at my front door (never sign anything), and that I would “self-clearing”. I had to fight with them, saying it got delivered, but I never signed anything. They told me I owed that money, fought back… after going back and forth, I said it’s the law, where they said nothing and re-directed me somewhere else, where I was able to only pay the tax, and not the BS broker fees. Save $75, well worth the time. Thank you!!

  10. Louise Caron says:

    I read online that the amount of money you can spend online as gone up to $150.00 before being charged brokers fees, a new bylaw that Trudeau changed not long ago, I’m I right?
    Thank you for your great post

  11. pete longman says:

    I hate UPS, this should be Illegal, Today i got a message from UPS asking me to pay $69 CAD brojerage fee on my $305 CAD worth of goods…I wrote down the tracking # & called CBSA, first guy told me i can go to the nearest office & that this is the only option to “self clear” no emailing, faxing or over the phone options…he admitted he wasnt so familiar with this process and offered to transfer me to a supervisor so i did that, the supervisor said ” You need the Cargo Control Document from UPS , that will tell you where your package is being held, bring that and your retail invoice to THAT Specific location only , present your documents, pay taxes , duty if any etc” I told her i lived a 45 minute ferry ($52 toll) and 1.5 hr drive away from the office where my package is and asked if there is another way to clear my package…She said again..”No you Must go to the location where your Package is , if it came in by air it will be Cargo at YVR Airport, if it came by land it will be Main Street”

    Man this sucks……..

  12. Mike Lachaire says:

    I just had a nightmare experience with this. I think that you should update your article with the word “self-accounting” instead of “self-clearing”. I spent over an hour on the phone with UPS, transferred from person to person only to find out from a supervisor that “self-clearing” means that one goes to the port of entry and personally overseas the item arriving into Canada and filling out the customs form. What you described in this email is actually “self-accounting”, which is that once UPS filled out the forms at the border, you get a copy of those and go to any CBSA and pay your own duty/taxes.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mike! That’s an effort on UPS’s part to confuse matters. It has always been self clearing. But now people are starting to clue into this fact they’re doing anything they can to make it difficult, from not returning phone calls to saying they’re emailed the documents, but not actually emailing them. They will do anythingggggg to make the process uncomfortable or impossible. I will add self-accounting as an additional term people can use if they’re refused. ~ karen!

  13. James says:

    Thanks for this info!
    I wish I read this advice 3 days ago.
    I had Artwork I made returned to me from a Gallery. They extorted 180$ from me.
    UPS threatened to return the Art shipment back to the sender if I didn’t pay within 24hrs.
    UPS wouldn’t negotiate. I spoke to no less than 6 UPS operators and spent at least 2 1/2 hrs on hold or conversing with a UPS-employee who acted naive. By hook or crook they were taking this brokerage fee.

    • Nancy Bifolchi says:

      That was extortion . Fortunately, I had a better experience today.

      Yesterday , I received a vm from UPS suggesting they could be my broker.
      By 9am today, I had received a $48.48 fee in an email from UPS.
      I had been too busy to connect.
      I decided to drive to the UPS location which is in the same building as the Inland CBSA. ( Ottawa Cargo Services) -Thad Johnson Rd.
      Having never done this before, it was an excellent experience . Thanks to Karen for the clear and detailed information and photos.
      UPS agent was kind and professional. I stated that I would like to self clear and provided my tracking no. I asked if she would reverse the fee. No problem.
      I was given the paperwork and walked to Ottawa Cargo Services, paid the required duty and walked back to UPS with the B-15 paperwork. Photocopies given to me and shipment to come in a couple of days.
      Wishing everyone could experience this.

  14. Rachel says:

    Hi, I am currently going through this – my parcel is set for delivery on Monday and I have been told that it was already released from customs and there is no way to do self-clearing, only self-accounting. I am not exactly sure what self-accounting is, but after brief research, it seems that I would have to take my paperwork to a customs office to receive a refund. I am pretty angry that they just cleared my package without my consent. I have called several times asking for the paperwork to self-clear and they just take my email address and then never get back to me. Anyways, due to covid, UPS seems to be just dropping off packages and bill later. I am wondering if I just take the commercial invoice off of my delivered package to the customs office, pay my own tax and then submit this to UPS when they come asking for my payment if this would work. Anyways, I might give it a try. Thanks for your great post!

    • Karen says:

      Uch, I’m not sure Rachel. UPS has apparently got wind of people understanding they can self clear and of course – are now denying them that right. You can either call your closest customs office (usually an airport) and they might be able to tell you what to do. They don’t like UPS either. ~ karen!

      • Rachel says:

        Update: I did it! I kept calling and emailing. Over and over. They tried to tell me it wasn’t possible using many different excuses but I persisted. I also had to send ups away with my delivery two days in a row. On day 3, I finally received the paperwork and luckily was able to drive to the customs office, pay my GST and get back home before the delivery. UPS wanted to charge me $46 on a $155 item. I only ended up paying $7.75 in GST. Thanks so much for all of your tips!

  15. Cheverly says:

    Do gifs work in your comment section? Because I found this the other day and it is PERFECT. Know who delivers Prime packages (at least in the States)? USPS, that’s who. Those other two can totally suck it.

  16. brenda says:

    update on UPS … I did this and got the forms and paid far less than they originally said it would be BUT that was a few years ago AND when I tried it again last year, ie asked for self clearing paperwork and was told it would come (it didn’t) so I asked again (nada) … the delivery person left note on my door with outrageous fees on the $600+ things I bought SO i called the company and said I’d be sending it back and they were in total agreement and we agreed I’d pay shipping again … they got notice that it was being returned. We waited and waited and waited and waited and I got a bill for fees and called to say WTF … I didn’t even get it AND it was sent back. OKOKOK – ups Customer Service said and yes you asked for it to go back but we need the person that sent it to talk to us – we can’t talk to you – and yes we know you asked for self clearing paperwork and no we didn’t send it – THEY need to talk to us – not you. So I got back in touch with the place I paid $600+ to and they got in touch with UPS and were told the package had been sent to abandoned parcels and since it was 90 days (almost) it had been sold and now it was gone. I’d paid $600+ to Cool Tools and now someone else had all the stuff. Cool Tools reimbursed me because I’d kept in close touch with them throughout and they are a stand up company. I got VISA involved as well. The thing about UPS is that they are up to their eyebrows+ in class action suits like this and the courts can’t keep up with the complaints and so I wouldn’t recommend this anymore. Their customer service people are told one thing and their delivery people are told another thing and they don’t communicate with one another and UPS pretends they’ve upheld the law and so they are burdened by the goods so they sell them and pocket the money! Seriously. I felt sorry for the customer service women who admitted they had records of all my calls and requests and apologized profusely even when I asked how they could work for such a conniving company with such a line up of lawsuits.

    I told Cool Tools I promise I will show up in court for them no matter when the case comes up. I might be 96 or so but I will pull out all my notes and hold UPS’ feet to the fire. Cool Tools took the hit and I paid shipping both ways. UPS sold the stuff and got money for our stuff! SoHelpMeDogThisIsTheTruth.

    • Karen says:

      Oh I believe it. This method does still work they just do more to try to make it not work. Obviously things got very bad for you. It just makes me FURIOUS. I just had an email exchange with someone who was having trouble with UPS not answering their emails about the paperwork and then misleading them. I told them to just keep calling and calling and finally they were sent the paperwork. So as you say they’re DEFINITELY trying their best to NOT allow this, but it’s such a screwed up place that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I still recommend doing this. ~ karen!

  17. Andrew says:

    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.

  18. Andrew says:

    Does anyone know if I still can do self-clearing or to dispute UPS brokerage fees after package was delivered. The thing is I did not see UPS driver, nor signed for the package even though it was mentioned on UPS web site that signature is required. It was in early June when I received an email from UPS saying there is a shipment coming that has import fees due. I have read all recommendations on this site and called UPS asking them to send me paperwork for self-clearing. 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 late I just found the package at my door. Well, I thought that probably they waved their fees. And few weeks later I receive their bill to pay those f…….g brokerage fees I tried to avoid. Looks like they tricked me. Pure racket in my opinion. Is there anything I can do about it, or is it too late?

    • Karen says:

      If you never signed to receive the package then they don’t have a case. I’ve discovered that several people are saying the same thing recently. That UPS is claiming for whatever reason they can’t send the paperwork. KEEP bugging them. Calling etc. I know it’s a pain, but it’s the only way. ~ karen!

  19. Alana says:

    Ugh, broker fees, how many times have I been scammed? Once again, am I ever so glad you write this blog, so good to know!

  20. Desiree says:

    This is great information, thank you for sharing it.

    Though the statement that UPS doesn’t charge brokerage fees if your item is under 20$ is not entirely correct.
    The last time I ever bought anything that was shipped by them (I won’t buy something if I can’t have it shipped via another option) my item was 14$ the shipping was 5.50$ and despite that UPS demanded over 30$ in brokerage fees.

  21. Tina Kennedy says:

    Hey Karen,

    Question, I was actually looking into this since I recently got a bill in the mail for $50.36 in brokerage fees. I was never given the opportunity to self declare. The package was delivered and I did not sign anything. I think bc everything is contactless not during Covid. Am I stuck paying this?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tina, things are different now, that’s for sure, but I would think they still need to notify you PRIOR to giving you the package. I’d call them. ~ karen!

  22. ash says:

    thank you so much

  23. Daniel says:

    I ordered small item from china
    It was free shipping also $1.50 NOT even $2
    but UPS left notice on my door they missed me also my package has a brokerage due $44.50!!
    I did’t get any email also didn’t get any call and meeting them yet
    $44.50 is nothing if it make sense and I need to pay but I don’t wanna pay $44.50 for $1 item
    It’s ridiculous
    What should I do? :(

    • Karen says:

      Hi Daniel! If you hadn’t been notified prior to the package being left then you have NO obligation to pay the $44.50. You did NOT accept the package. It wasn’t signed for. I would call UPS and tell them you didn’t accept the package and didn’t sign for anything. Make that known. Then you can either tell them you would like to “self clear” it. They will have to pick the package up from you again, it goes back to a depot, THEN you pick it up from the customs office like I described. If that isn’t something that you can do then either a) either ask them to explain and reduce the charges or b) insist again you didn’t accept the package and tell them to take it back. ~ karen!

  24. Naomi says:


    I was wondering if you may know since you figured this out brilliantly.

    I received a package early January and only now received a letter from UPS saying I need to pay Customs fees before xx date. Now, I have the package.

    Do I need to pay it ?

    • Karen says:

      It depends on how hard you want to fight Naomi. If you didn’t receive any notification that you had to pay, and accepted the package without any email, phone call or other statement from UPS that you had a fee then you don’t have to pay it BUT they will hound you forever until you talk to someone and tell them what happened. Even then it’s iffy. If it’s a small fee I’d probably pay it and silently hate UPS. Something big might be worth calling them to work it out. I’ve done both in the past. :/ ~ karen!

  25. vinh says:

    I already signed and gave my credit card info help

  26. vinh says:

    Does the signature go in effect for all future shipments? they asked for my credit card.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vinh. It’s too late for this shipment im afraid but for future packages do what I say. Refuse delivery and say you will self clear. If you HAVENT accepted this package though you might have luck if you call them and say you want to self clear. They shouldn’t use your credit card for future fees.

  27. Kathleen Kato says:

    Thanks so much for the incredibly helpful info on not paying brokerage fees for stuff from the States into Canada. I spoke to the CBSA and was told that self-clearing involves knowing where the item entered Canada because to self clear you have to take the paperwork to that location. We live too far from the Vancouver airport to make that option viable. Also, lots of places only offer UPS as a delivery system to Canada. I was told that you can specify that you want to self-clear when you order which helps a bit, I guess [although not for us].

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathleen! Have you checked to see if you have a self clearing place near you other than the Vancouver airport? Possibly a smaller airport or customs office? ~ karen!

  28. Charlene says:

    SAY WHAT??? Predicting my poor husband will be displeased with you as the brokerage fees have been my only deterance to online fabric shopping from the USA…
    Sharing the bejesus out of this.

  29. Unknowing says:

    Thank you Karen for this informative post. I recently ordered a jacket from the USA. It costs 280 CAD. The seller chose UPS to deliver the package. I then received a notice (I wasn’t home when they tried to deliver the package) from UPS saying that I would have to pay $120 ($47 duty + $42 taxes + $31 brokerage fee) to them to receive the package. I requested to have the package returned because the COD fee was almost half the price of the jacket. And the package was sent back to the seller. Now a few weeks later, UPS sent me a bill for $120. They say that even though the package was sent back, I still have to pay the COD fee. Is this right? Thank you very much.

    • Karen says:

      Hi there! I’m not an expert on UPS but from where I stand I’d say if you didn’t accept the package then you owe nothing. Why would you have to pay duty on something that you didn’t keep? Or taxes? It doesn’t make sense at all. Personally I’d fight it. ~ karen!

  30. A very annoyed UPS client says:

    thats so good. I hope everyone avoid that broker fee. its absurd. I am in Mauritius and being charged $40 for a $90 item. There are no duty on the item as it is below the taxable value. Thats absurd. Worse is that i wasnt even contacted by the broker company but i had to contact them myself and one week later they are still “awaiting clearance by customs”.
    If i didnt need the item i would have just sent it back. The whole thing isnt that simple to be done on our own here in mauritius… sadly.

    • Karen says:

      I just looked up Mauritius. Wow. It’s beautiful. So. Next time just make sure you tell, not ask, TELL the UPS people who contact you that you’re going to self clear the item. They may be confused and they might fight it, but it can be done. Don’t let them win! ~ karen

  31. Sammy says:

    I heard about self clearing and I am currently trying to do this by calling UPS to let them know. They said I will get a call back within 24 hrs for the next steps and I haven’t heard anything back for 48 hrs. I’ve called them 3 times since.. ridiculous. Hate UPS at the moment..

    • Karen says:

      What next steps? For them to send you the documents? Call again. Call non stop. Call a different number. It’s not their priority to help you because it’s taking mone out of their pocket but keep bugging. Good luck! ~ karen!

  32. Miranda says:

    Question for you, Karen…. I have called UPS twice now, to tell them that I’m self-accounting or clearing. First, the lady I spoke to on Tuesday said that she was putting it in the system, and that the item would have to be brought to the warehouse before I could get the shipping documents. Then, I checked the tracking again…said it was back en route to Ft Erie. I called again today. Spoke with a young guy who first told me I would have to go pick it up in Ft Erie. I corrected him and told him I would be going to my local CBSA office. He then tells me that he’s sending a message to the port of entry to hold the item so I can self-account. I just checked the tracking and it’s showing as on its way to me. 😖 I’m worried that they’ll come here, I won’t be home and they’ll drop it at my local ups store. Have you had that happen? I feel like I’m going to get stuck paying this ridiculous fee.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Miranda. No matter where the package ends up, you can say you’re self clearing it. So if it comes to your house you can just refuse it (which I’ve done), say you’re self clearing it and they’ll take it back with them. Same thing if it ends up at the UPS pickup area. It’s a bit of a pain but usually worth it depending on the fees they completely make up to charge you. ;) ~ karen!

  33. Miranda says:

    Just so you know, it’s two and a half years later and this information is still coming in handy. Called UPS today to request shipping documents, they told me once the shipment is brought to their warehouse, they can finalize the documents and will call me when they’re ready….to pick up. I hope I don’t get any hassles having it emailed to me. Thanks for the info! I just can’t stomach paying $55USD for shipping and then $70CAD for “brokerage”. Ridiculous.

    • Karen says:

      Excellent! My newest anger is getting a bill from Federal Express 3 months after they delivered something saying I owe them $55 for a $70 item that was a gift. They’re going to have quite a public fight on their hands if they try to force me to pay. NOT gonna happen! ~ karen

  34. Rhonda says:

    My husband just received an e-mail stating that he owes import fees to UPS. Is this the same as brokerage fees and do you know if your guide still applies.

  35. Neva F says:

    Thank you for this excellent post. I received an email identical to the one you posted, from the same email address, with instructions re: self-clearing.

    There was no phone number on the form for the UPS port warehouse in Windsor, Ontario (BIG SHOCK)- HERE IT IS if you want to call and check if your fax went through – (519) 251-7001

    Don’t give these big corporations any more of your hard-earned $$$ than you absolutely HAVE TO.

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome Neva! Glad it worked for you. Stupid UPS. I actually have nothing against big corporations when I’m paying for something of value, but these broker fees … they are SUCH a scam. Bleh. ~ karen!

  36. Kendra says:

    Thank you for sharing this information!

    I had to deal with unnecessary delays and a HUGE broker fee from DHL when I ordered some copper pots from Turkey to the US earlier this year. I’d looked at customs general fees for the items to prepare myself for the taxes — I wish I’d thought to search to see if I could do this myself. Argh — lesson learned! I will be prepared in the future!!!

    • Karen says:

      It’s a tiny bit of a pain but you’ll feel vindicated. These broker fees are an utter and complete SCAM. Good luck! ~ karen

  37. Melanie says:

    I had earmarked this post a while ago. I was once burned by FedEx when they sent me a letter requesting 100% of what I paid for a parcel long after it had arrived. Well, good thing that I had as I needed to refer to it today! UPS informed me in advance of fees due. I called and said that I will self clear. She said that brokerage is “only $10.” It’s a $30 item! I will be likely do this again as my order was split in two. Thank you for telling us about this!

  38. Dan says:

    omg i love you, my gf and I were so angry! She ordered some items for my bday but they charged so much I told her to just return it and not pay the duties. I will try and do this for the next package that is due to arrive, we were hoping this does not happen the second time.

    • Karen says:

      Oh trust me, I know all about that anger, lol. It WILL work. It might seem like a bit of a pain but trust me, it’s more of a pain for the courier so that’s kind of fun. ;) ~ karen!

  39. Kim says:

    I live in Canada and once ordered a bunch of candle kits from the US. I received an email from UPS asking me to contact them. When I called, the man explained it all to me and after finding out my fee would have been around $40, I told him I would take the “self-clear” option. To my surprise, he told me I would have to drive all the way out to the port-of-entry CBSA office in order to self-clear (which was about 6 hours away). Does this sound right? I don’t understand why I couldn’t just do this at the office in my city. Has anyone else come across this issue?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim. NO, you do not have to drive to the port of entry office. You do have to use the type of CBSA office I describe in the post though because not all CBSA offices will collect duty. If you click through to my link and can find an appropriate office closer to you (most airports have them) then you can use that one. Don’t forget he needs to email you your invoice etc. so you can take them with you to be stamped at the office. ~ karen!

  40. Sue mcnenly says:

    Funny…..I order from the us weekly, and have always called this fee The UPS ‘I touched it’ fee? Also, thank you for showing people the diff between brokerage and duty. I get nuts when I hear people say that they don’t order from the us because of the duty. There is no duty at all on us made items, and many other worldwide goods. Semantics, I know, but I like that you have sound a light on the real culprit. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll check into it in the future. Sometimes it’s worth an extra $25 just to stay home and have something arrive without you lifting a finger, but other times not. Btw…I get my big stuff shipped to ups in Lewiston. All I pay coming over the border is hst, which I would pay anyway.

  41. Wiarton Willy says:

    I live in the GTA. The four closest CBSA offices are near Pearson Airport…. the most inconvenient and congested location in Canada.

    I would love to have easy access to US products, but driving to the airport isn’t something I can do on a regular basis.

    I have found that non-US (eg UK, China) internet stores offer better service to customers in other countries. US businesses focus on US customers, or even just “Lower 48” US customers. Sucks to live in Hawaii or Alaska, too. US businesses either wont ship to Canada, or make it very stressful.

    Vendors in other countries generally charge final costs, to my door, at check-out. Duty is generally the same as local sales tax. Shipping is whatever they say, up-front. Often free. No surprises.

  42. mark says:

    curious about why it must be an ‘inland’ cbsa office?
    i’m north of abbotsford, bc – the closest office ‘inland’ here is burnaby (say a 3 hour round trip).
    can I self-clear by going to the nearest border (15 minutes away) instead?

  43. Kelln says:

    Oh geez, I found this a day late. Just got the phone call this morning from UPS for one of my US orders…

    Now at least I know for the future, and the CBSA office is a ~5 minute detour from my normal route home!

    Thank you for the lengthy and thorough guide!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kelln. So you’ve already agreed to pay them? Bleh. Well, like you say, at least now you know the steps for next time. And once you do it once, the following time will be a breeze! So easy. And the guys at my office say a lot of people do it so when you go in there don’t worry, they won’t be shocked you’re self clearing an item. :) ~ karen!

      • Kelln says:

        Yeah, too late. $23.53 just in brokerage on a $74 USD order (plus another ~$5 in tax).

        Oddly I only went with UPS because the vendor I purchased through specifically stated they negotiated low brokerage rates with UPS. Yeah, well, they’re going to be getting a nice email stating that ~$24 in brokerage fees only is bull.

        As I said, this is the last time I go this route, self-declare from now on.

  44. Kathleen says:

    Aaaaaaagh! Words fail me. Karen you have stirred up a hornet’s nest here and the countless stories just show the extent of everyone’s frustration with being scammed.
    What did Peter Finch say in “Network” -“I’m mad as —- and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

  45. Ronnie says:

    The other delivery company is worse. I won an item at a conference held in Canada but the company that awarded it was based in the U.S. and so they sent me the item. they paid the shipping. The delivery company delivered it, no signature required, then started to harass me to pay the brokerage charge. I refused, asking them to show me anything that said that I agreed to pay them. They couldn’t show me anything but continued to threaten to send it to collections. I am a lawyer so told them if they did that I would take them to court and they would have to pay a law firm to represent them. I didn’t hear from them again, but it took me months of continued correspondence to get them to go away. I won’t ever use them to deliver anything (although I am probably banned from being a customer of theirs!)

  46. Kathleen says:

    That is a ridiculously high charge! They must keep no records or they would be afraid to try to scam you again. I love the comment someone made saying you had “balls of steel”! UPS have balls of brass-brass cheek that is! Sock it to them, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Funny story, I was wrong about my original total. It was for $54 worth of products from the States. Which means my broker fee totals MORE than my original purchase!! ~ karen

  47. Kathleen says:

    Thanks Karen. I learned the hard way with UPS. For years I had to order a regimen of supplements for a medical condition, and could only buy some of them in the States. I would argue with the UPS guy about the charges, and refuse to accept the package and pay the “brokerage fees”- on principle. Then, I would eventually have to go down to the depot, and pay the fees, if I wanted my vitamins. Thereafter, I only ordered from a company if their shipping was with the USPS not UPS. The “brokerage fees ” were ridiculously high for the price of the package, and it made me furious knowing I was being scammed by a large company and couldn’t do anything about it. Thanks for doing the research so that we can tell UPS to get lost. I HATE UPS.

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome Kathleen. I just had a notice that UPS tried to deliver a package to me today actually. It was for something that cost around $80. The Brokerage fee is stated at $60. SIXTY DOLLARS! I’ve already emailed them and said don’t bother trying to deliver it again, I’ll self clear it. ~ karen!

  48. Lyne says:

    Thank you so much! About 10 years ago I orded something on internet. It didn’t say anything about brokage fee. When UPS received the package the send me a letter. I called them back and said I don’t want that package return it. It didn’t mention those. Finally they cancelled the brokage fee and send it to me. I was lucky. Now the laws have change. When you buy something they have to mention those fee. And I never ordered something else. I might try it for a christmas gift my daughter wants really badly.

  49. Vicky Smith says:

    I live in Detroit. We have a lot of Canadians that come over to shop and not just for hard goods. They hit the grocery stores also. The ones I have talked to tell me that the prices in the US are great except when the exchange rates are off. Just saying…… oh and UPS suck it.

    • Rick Wiebe says:

      Great article on brokering yourself.

      We sell and ship carving tools all the time to the US. NEVER by UPS. Canada Post only. Even orders of over 1000.00 have rarely been held up by customs, and I am unaware of any of my customers being charged duty. I have warned may Americans to absolutely never ship things to Canada via UPS.

      I import items from the US for resale and do my own brokering at the border crossing.

      I was unaware that recipients in Canada have a right to insist on doing their own brokering with UPS, though, and I thank you for pointing that out.

      This article should be in every newspaper in Canada

  50. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    We never have fees like that to receive our mail…what a total rip-off for all of you…I have sold quite a few items on eBay to Canadians…When I do the customs form I always mark that the item is a gift hoping that you all will not be charged fees that way…Does that help you to save money/fees by doing that??

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