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. Dale says:

    If you ship with FedEx you have seen what great effort their staff (Tom Hanks “Cast Away”) go to deliver their cargo. LOL

  2. dana says:

    Balls of steel, Karen. I love it! Not sure I could try anything like that & not screw up and end up looking like an a$$. I’m a Midwesterner and don’t buy anything from Canada, so I have some questions: Are these broker fees for something or is it just gravy bc I assume most people usually pay. And do the brokers charge whatever theywant? Occasionally there are moving companies here in USA that hold peoples’ furniture hostage and demand astronomical fees. Oh and by the way, my hubby and I always say we are moving to Canada when Hillary becomes president. We looked into it and read that people w chronic health conditions (Crohns disease) really need not apply bc it stresses the health system. :/

  3. Meghan says:

    Fantastic! Thank you, Karen. I once (1o years ago) had to pay nearly $80 to UPS in brokerage fees for a package that was about $50 in total. I was choked! So good to know there’s a way around it.

  4. Phyllis says:

    Hi Karen: I order stuff from the U.S. all the time. Just tell the sender to send your package by USPS. No broker! But Canada Post will scam you out of $5.00 for collecting the duty & tax.

    • Gleb Belogolovtsev says:

      Is it 5$ flat? or varies like with UPS?

      • Lori Gould says:

        I think it’s more like $10 now, which still is easier to take than courier handling fees and you will still need to pay the GST or HST valued on the parcel. But that is my preference. I wonder if we could avoid CP fees too by handling the transaction ourselves?

  5. Sue says:

    I’m in the US and like others have commented, I’ve never heard of broker fees. Good for you taking a stand.

  6. Mel says:

    Wait! If I order something made in the USA it is duty free? Etsy here I come! I’ve only ordered on there from Canada shops so I didn’t get stuck with a ridiculous customs bill.
    Thanks for the handy info! You rock!

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Yup, that’s my understanding of the free trade agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the USA & Mexico. If the product is made in any of those 3 countries, there is not supposed to be any customs duties levied. However, you will/may be required to pay the appropriate sales taxes in your jurisdiction. Hey! It almsot sounds like I know what I’m talking about eh?

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I am a Canadian that ships my own product to the states all the time.

    The things I have learned about doing that –

    1. US residents do not have to pay anything so long as the value of the item being received is less than $150 USD.
    2. Use FEDEX ground – they charge less than Canada Post, they deliver quicker and they offer an on time guarantee.

    I have received gifts from the US and also ordered supplies from the US and this is what I have learned about doing that –

    1. You CAN receive gifts from family/friends in the US and not be charged duties/taxes but, only if the value of the item(s) in the package is less than $60. If it is over $60, you will be charged only on the amount over $60.
    2. Ask the seller if they will ship via USPS. ANY courier company will charge brokerage fees.
    3. If they agree to mail your item, have them address it to your home address. If it is sent from business to business (ie your work address), then Revenue Canada will consider whatever it is, to be a commercial product and charge you duties and taxes. Brokerage is covered by USPS/Canada Post and will never be charged.
    4. If they mail your item and if the value is low enough, you will often never have to pay any duties or taxes at all.

  8. Nancy says:

    Sometimes I try to compare postage prices, the USPS is very easy. The UPS site always shows it will cost $3000.00 to mail but then you go to the UPS store and it’s $6ish. Who wants to go to the store??
    I would be in dire straits if I had to go through all this, I order almost everything I possibly can online. Even if I drive by the store all the time. Because you have to find a parking place and then try to find the item which might mean talking to a store clerk, and they don’t have it in your size, it’s just exhausting. Then you see other stuff and start impulse shopping.
    Until you tell us how to make mascara and panties, I’ll continue to use Amazon. (I shouldn’t say that I just had a vision of myself out in the shop with the drill twirling tiny bottle trees for mascara brushes.)
    Plus, I live in Seattle, so with using Amazon, I have the added comfort of knowing I am shopping locally.
    PS I can’t find the damn macaw??? What is that lady talking about????

  9. gabrielle says:

    I had UPS make up a pretend “collections agency” letterhead and tried to bully me into paying for something that they couldn’t tell me what it was! All over $16.50. I didn’t pay it, but my husband might have at some point – I really don’t remember. He did the googling up though, and found out that the “agency” was actually part of the courier company!

  10. Lin N says:

    Thank YOU for such a great blog article. Yes, UPS sucks big time. I live small island in Nanaimo, BC so UPS doesn’t deliver, I have to go pick up. I just had an package sent from Toronto. They sent me a tracking #. I put it aside and waited for an e-mail or phone call to say my package was here….didn’t happen. Finally checked the tracking and found out the package had been here for 5 days and it stated that I had given instruction to hold for pickup…NOT! Crappy web site, you can’t find any e-mail contact and only an 800 number. Called and then brought up the bad customer service when I went to pick up my package…their rationalization….we receive hundreds of packages a day, we can’t notify everyone and this is the way we’ve always done it! My opinion….really bad customer service!! Fedex is waaay better but not always available. Oh I did manage to pickup my package re they sent it back.

  11. Melissa L. says:

    My brother lives in a border town in Washington state (actually he lives on the northernmost street!)… now I understand why there are 19 mail box shops in a town of fewer than 5,000 people!

  12. Katharine McEwen says:

    Yes, companies will scam you it you let them. Another possibility if you live relatively near a border town is to have a U.S. address at one of the local UPS offices. They charge 5 dollars a package and you pick it up. Shipping is infinitely cheaper than a Canadian address and you can take it home duty free if it’s an American made item. Just sayin……

  13. Mary W says:

    I’ve receive things from Canada, New Zealand, England, Finland, Australia, and Ha-why-ee. Can’t find spelling and I live in US (not Ha-why-ee). Never heard of why you are talking about. We do, however, pay for health insurance and medical care. Obviously, we need to invest in better spelling teachers LOL.

  14. Jody says:

    You constantly amaze me and I learn so much. Now I’m off to was my dog’s sheep skin rug.

  15. Celeste says:

    Karen, so sorry about all the hassle and bless you for taking on ‘the man’!!

    Also, I see that you ordered the chicken door from and I feel bad that I didn’t suggest this some time ago. My bad!! That $200 is the best money I ever spent, and my chickens are so happy that they don’t have to wait on my sorry-ass to come out and play, or be shut away safe.

    It’s a great product and the guy who makes it is lovely.


  16. Skylor says:

    Best post ever. These UPS d@uchbags nailed me with these fees once and tried to send the cost to a collections agency to obtain them….. when I declined to pay and sent the package back. If there is an option I will never ship by UPS because of these disgusting practices but if I’m forced to in the future for an item I can get no other way that really is necessary (or I really NEED it) I will self clear. UPS can suck it indeed.

    bookmarking this post just below the bookmark for your main page….


  17. Ev Wilcox says:

    I have wanted to order from Amazon. com before and read cryptic warnings of UK fees, etc. And no explanation of how much these fees would be-are they based on percentages, or origin, or delivery sites? So I move on, and find somewhere else to order from, or just forget it-period! Sounds like more of what you described (very good instructions, too!), Karen. Us peons in Ohio do not choose to say yes when we are not informed what the damn charges even are! Thanks so much for this very valuable post-you rock!

  18. Donna says:

    I used to run a small business and ordered product from the US all the time. I self-cleared all my goods because the UPS “brokerage” was so ridiculous.

    The first (and easiest) thing to do is to ask your US shipper to use the United States Postal Service/Canada Post. Most of them will do that, even though they seem perplexed to be asked. Americans are so accustomed to using UPS they don’t think twice about it; and as Canadians we are just too polite to ask them to change their habits!

    Canada Post does charge a “brokerage fee” sometimes! I think it depends how busy they are. It is either $5 or $8 and does not depend on the value of the shipment.

  19. Mary from Barrie says:

    THANK YOU KAREN! I will be sharing this on Facebook so all my friends can see it. There is a CBSA office right in Barrie and I always thought it was strange since we are nowhere near the border. But now it may be my favourite place. I have been scammed by UPS way too often and did not realize there was a way around it.

  20. Wow!!! Thank you for this post! I have never understood broker fees and have paid large sums of money because it just seemed easier. NO MORE! This has opened a whole new world for me.

  21. Erin says:

    Thank you!!!
    I’ve noticed this and wondered about what was going on. Then I tried to avoid UPS cause they were the only ones dinging us this way.
    I remember when you were supposed to be nice to your customers, not take advantage of them at every turn.
    Thanks for turning the light on and empowering us.

  22. Cred says:

    Brilliant! My husband orders auto parts, machining tools and electronic goods online all the time. This can be a huge cost and we never knew they could be avoided. We opt for USPS whenever it’s available but as I’m sure you know, some companies will only deal with a specific courier and don’t give the buyer an option.

    Thanks for doing the groundwork for all your readers.

  23. KarenJ says:

    Very timely post! Thank you Karen!
    This is exactly how I feel.
    I’ve actually cut back on my US shopping because of those stupid #@$* brokerage fees!
    Can hardly wait to say, “No thank you – I’ll be self clearing”:)

  24. Aspasia says:

    This is one of the reasons I don’t order anything from the US unless I absolutely have to. But at least now I know about the self-clearing option. Thanks!

  25. magali says:

    This is so great to know – thank you!!
    I wish I had known a month ago when my wallpaper got delivered and there was an extra $70 charge. When I asked why I had been charged duty fees when the item was made in the US I was told those were handling fees. Is that what I could have avoided? Or can there be a third charge?
    Thanks again!

    • Karen says:

      A handling fee is just another scam. They’re already being paid by the shipper to deliver the item to you. Then they can randomly tack on “a handling fee” which then you, the buyer, pays for. I’d have to see the bill but it was probably actually a broker fee. ~ karen!

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