Shopping Discussion

Amazon.ca and customs/import/brokerage charges

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 19th, 2021 10:33 am
[OP]
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Amazon.ca and customs/import/brokerage charges

This seems to come up every other day here, and many RFDers don't seem to be aware of this, so I thought I'd post.

Stuff you buy on Amazon.ca that ships from outside Canada to a Canadian address must have all customs/import/brokerage fees included in the price you pay at checkout. Sellers who sell on Amazon.ca are responsible for getting items into Canada and shipping them to you at their own expense, without surprising you with additional customs/taxes/fees/brokerage charges when you receive the item. This is true for all Amazon.ca purchases, whether sold directly by Amazon, fulfilled by Amazon, or sold and shipped by a third party Marketplace seller.

These are the Amazon.ca seller guidelines that spell this out for Amazon.ca listings that are shipped to Canadian addresses : https://sellercentral.amazon.ca/gp/help/200404870?
In particular:

  • You are able to deliver to the customer on time, every time with no customer surprises
  • Delivery to the Customer. You must use a reliable shipping method so customers receives their purchases on time, every time. Do not expose customers to customs delays and additional duties and taxes on their purchases. You are responsible for complying with all import and export obligations and for payment of all applicable duties and customs fees. In short, customers must receive exactly what they order without any additional charges or fees and within the estimated delivery date posted with your offer on the Amazon marketplace website.
  • Customer charges. Your listing will include all applicable charges and taxes (including VAT, customs duty, excise taxes, etc. as applicable). You will provide VAT invoices to the customer upon the customer's request, if applicable.

Amazon also has this page for sellers, which states right at the top:

  • If you sell products in Canada, you are responsible for paying any applicable taxes, destination duties, and customs clearance fees before your product can be sold to Canadian residents or stored in an Amazon fulfilment centre.

Many sellers on Amazon.ca are ignoring this and not using the proper customs brokerage services they should be when importing to Canada. Some sellers even include this link in their listings in an attempt to get Canadian buyers to take responsibility for customs charges, but don't be fooled by that. That link is not for items shipped to Canadian addresses, it is for buyers outside of Canada who buy on Amazon.ca, who are responsible for any customs/duties charges levied on them by their country.

If you get surprised by customs/duties charges on delivery of an Amazon.ca purchase, contact the seller with the seller guidelines link I posted above and get them to refund all the charges. If they don't, file a complaint with Amazon.ca.

*** AUGUST 2019 UPDATE ***

Listings have started appearing on Amazon.ca that are "Sold by <third party seller> and Fulfilled by Amazon from outside Canada. Customs & Duties may apply." These new listings will have an "Import Fees Deposit" that are payable by the buyer at the time of purchase. These fees will all be disclosed to buyers and included in the final purchase amount that you pay. As above, these orders may not surprise you with additional customs, taxes, and brokerage fees at the time of delivery. Read Amazon's page about Import Fees Deposit for Items Sold by a Third-Party Seller and Fulfilled by Amazon from Outside Canada Credit to @squirtst for posting about this: amazon-ca-shipping-canada-import-fees-deposit-2302866/
Last edited by Kiraly on Feb 25th, 2020 1:28 pm, edited 9 times in total.
93 replies
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Oct 1, 2011
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Thanks for letting us know.

I did once get an item last year that had duties and taxes applied...but it was still cheaper in total than any Canadian retailer. So I was pretty happy to pay it; it would be a shame if the retailers who are willing to deal with Canadians completely withdraw because they don't want to deal with any customs hassles.

I do believe in working with merchants who have given me a fair deal on a product.

Obviously, if the total price ends up exceeding what you could have simply paid by going to a Canadian store, then have Amazon refund the duties/taxes applied.
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Thanks, I would probably have been fooled by that 'International Shipping' link you provided.
- casual gastronomist -
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Jul 13, 2007
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Tough situation.

What can a US sellers do?
Ship via Fedex or UPS and cover the cost of $$$$$ duties. Or ship via USPS, except they can't prepay the brokerage charges, even if they are much less at $8.50...
[OP]
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HammerRFDer wrote: Tough situation.

What can a US sellers do?
Ship via Fedex or UPS and cover the cost of $$$$$ duties. Or ship via USPS, except they can't prepay the brokerage charges, even if they are much less at $8.50...
Anyone outside of Canada who regularly imports their product into Canada should be contracting with a customs broker to handle all of this for them. That's what serious companies like Apple do. Anything sold at the Apple Canada online store and shipped to a Canadian address is a domestic sale. But most (all?) of the product comes from the US, so Apple contracts with a customs broker to get the stuff into Canada. The cost of this was built in to the price the customer paid at checkout, just like the rest of Apple's costs would have been.

So what can U.S. sellers do? Don't list stuff on Amazon.ca if they don't want to be their own importer. They can stick to selling on Amazon.com and make shipping to Canada available. That way it is clear to Canadian buyers that they will be importing the items themselves and will be responsible for all import charges.

It seems as though foreign sellers want the exposure to the Canadian market than an Amazon.ca seller account brings them, without the obligation to be their own importer and use the brokerage services required. They can't have it both ways.

It basically boils down to this:

  • I buy something on Amazon.com from a U.S. based seller and have it shipped to Canada. I am the importer and am responsible for all import charges.
  • I buy something on Amazon.ca from a U.S. based seller and have it shipped to Canada. The seller is the importer and is responsible for all import charges.
Last edited by Kiraly on Jan 9th, 2018 12:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
Deal Addict
Feb 19, 2017
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Thanks, this thread should save a ton of explanations.

Also sellers always have the option of having their orders fulfilled by amazon (and stored at amazon warehouse). No idea how much more this might cost them but anything i buy from amazon.ca always is fulfilled by amazon because otherwise i might as well shop at amazon.com or ebay given both likely has lower prices for the exact same item.
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Feb 7, 2017
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Awesome, well written & explained post.

Now if we can just get people to “point to it / link to it” the next time another RFDer asks the never ending question of how Amazon (.com or .ca) works
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can you provide some examples in your post for completeness, people don't seem to understand the differences between:

"Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca. Gift-wrap available. "
"Sold by Etekcity Corp and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available. "
"Ships from and sold by Insane Web Deals | Insane! Toy Shop. "
This is RedFlagDeals, not RedFlagCheapskates. Rich or poor, we all want our deals so we can buy even more stuff we may or may not need.
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warpdrive wrote: can you provide some examples in your post for completeness, people don't seem to understand the differences between:

"Ships from and sold by Amazon.ca. Gift-wrap available. "
"Sold by Etekcity Corp and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available. "
"Ships from and sold by Insane Web Deals | Insane! Toy Shop. "
In all three of those situations, buying on Amazon.ca and shipping to a Canadian address means no additional surprise import charges for the buyer.
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Kiraly wrote: In all three of those situations, buying on Amazon.ca and shipping to a Canadian address means no additional surprise import charges for the buyer.
I think people are still confused about marketplace sellers vs fulfilled or sold by amazon items. You can see people posting deals confused by it all the time, especially if they are or aren't charged tax and see the item coming by UPS.
This is RedFlagDeals, not RedFlagCheapskates. Rich or poor, we all want our deals so we can buy even more stuff we may or may not need.
[OP]
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Like I said, when it comes to the buyer having to pay for duties/taxes/customs/fees upon receipt of an item, there's no difference between buying from a marketplace seller or buying from Amazon. The answer is no in all cases.

A buyer is most at risk of being exposed to this problem when buying from a marketplace seller. If the buyer orders an item from a marketplace seller and gets hit with import fees, it's the seller's fault. The buyer can either pay the fees and get the seller to reimburse him, or refuse the item and ask for a full refund.
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Jul 13, 2007
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Kiraly wrote: Anyone outside of Canada who regularly imports their product into Canada should be contracting with a customs broker to handle all of this for them. That's what serious companies like Apple do.
There are about... 0 companies in the world bigger than Apple (by public market cap).
Is a customs broker contract that easy/inexpensive to set up for a ma and pa shop, or even mid-tier? Serious question.

My experience is that US retailers either offer included customs brokerage at a business-destroying high price or let you take the risk for a very low price. The only standout that included brokerage at a reasonable fee in my experience has been B&H.
Kiraly wrote: So what can U.S. sellers do? Don't list stuff on Amazon.ca if they don't want to be their own importer. They can stick to selling on Amazon.com and make shipping to Canada available.
That's why I said it's a tough situation for sellers. They'll abandon amazon.ca, another blow to e-commerce in Canada. My mom isn't going to check both, she'll just give up.

In other news, the Retail Council of Canada, defender of lazy Canadian retailers, is warning us that increasing duty/tax free limits will finally destroy them: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/duty-fr ... -1.4495167
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HammerRFDer wrote: Is a customs broker contract that easy/inexpensive to set up for a ma and pa shop, or even mid-tier? Serious question.

My experience is that US retailers either offer included customs brokerage at a business-destroying high price or let you take the risk for a very low price. The only standout that included brokerage at a reasonable fee in my experience has been B&H.
I don't know how big an outlet like cafepress is, but their cafepress.ca site sells domestically to Canadians, while all their product gets shipped up here from the U.S. by way of a customs broker. This coffee mug that sells for C$19.50 sells for US $13.99 at the US site (converts to 17.47 CDN today), so the extra international shipping and brokerage service add $2 to the price. Cheap.

U.S.-based sellers who want to sell on Amazon.ca but try to stiff Canadian consumers with surprise customs and import fees should get off Amazon.ca and stick to Amazon.com with shipping to Canada. That wouldn't be a blow to e-commerce in Canada, that would be a good thing for Canadian consumers.
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Thank you very much for this thread!
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The link you provide takes me to a page asking me to sign in (as a seller). I'm not a seller, so can't see the page.

But anyway, doesn't that conflict with the verbage on this page?
The recipient is the importer of record and must comply with all laws and regulations of the destination country. Orders shipped outside of Canada may be subject to import taxes, customs duties and fees levied by the destination country. The recipient of an international shipment may be subject to such import taxes, customs duties and fees, which are levied once a shipment reaches the recipient's country. Additional charges for customs clearance must be borne by the recipient; we have no control over these charges and can't predict what they may be. Customs policies vary widely from country to country; you should contact your local customs office for more information. When customs clearance procedures are required, it can cause delays beyond our original delivery estimates.
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willowberry wrote: The link you provide takes me to a page asking me to sign in (as a seller). I'm not a seller, so can't see the page.
I have an Amazon.ca seller account so I can see it. You can get one too if you want, it's free. But I copied and pasted the relevant parts in my original post in this thread, so no need.
But anyway, doesn't that conflict with the verbage on this page?
No, that is for "items shipped outside of Canada", not "items shipped from outside of Canada into Canada". A careful reading of the wording reveals it's for people who order on Amazon.ca and have the item shipped to an address outside of Canada, and being liable for duties/taxes levied by whatever that country is.
Newbie
Oct 4, 2018
3 posts
Thank you for the thread so far. I have a $15 product i bought at amazon.ca and once i got shipping info, saw that it is coming from Fontana,California. It is being shipping by UPS which costs a lot when they charge their import fees, so i dont want my item to turn into $65+. I asked the seller to clarify and can update once done.

I found this when looking stuff up:
https://www.amazon.ca/gp/help/customer/ ... 790&sr=1-1

I think this is for Amazon.ca sellers in Canada who are shipping to other countries? Just looking for clarification.

If my item arrives with crazy import fees, do i deny and not get my product or pay and then fight it?

Thanks.
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Ekire2019 wrote: Thank you for the thread so far. I have a $15 product i bought at amazon.ca and once i got shipping info, saw that it is coming from Fontana,California. It is being shipping by UPS which costs a lot when they charge their import fees, so i dont want my item to turn into $65+. I asked the seller to clarify and can update once done.

I found this when looking stuff up:
https://www.amazon.ca/gp/help/customer/ ... 790&sr=1-1

I think this is for Amazon.ca sellers in Canada who are shipping to other countries? Just looking for clarification.
Yes, that's for items sold on Amazon.ca by third party sellers and shipped to an address outside of Canada. The seller could be located anywhere.
If my item arrives with crazy import fees, do i deny and not get my product or pay and then fight it?
Whatever you're comfortable with. If you pay and fight it you are fully in the right, but it might be an uphill battle trying to get Amazon employees to understand exactly what the problem is. They don't seem to be very well trained for this situation, based on what other RFDers have reported. I recommend contacting the seller first and showing them the Amazon.ca terms they agreed to regarding not stiffing Canadians with surprise import fees.
Newbie
Oct 4, 2018
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No update as of yet. i asked the seller 3 times if there are import/broker fees and they never answered - they just kept replying "item has been sent and will arrive shortly". My last inquiry that they have not responded to at all was on the 21st. My delivery dates are Thursday, November 22 - Tuesday, December 4, so i have yet to know if i will get extra costs.
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Jan 15, 2010
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Ekire2019 wrote: No update as of yet. i asked the seller 3 times if there are import/broker fees and they never answered - they just kept replying "item has been sent and will arrive shortly". My last inquiry that they have not responded to at all was on the 21st. My delivery dates are Thursday, November 22 - Tuesday, December 4, so i have yet to know if i will get extra costs.
If you can track the package on UPS website, pay attention to COD prompt once the package hit customs.

If package has already been inside Canada and there is no COD mentioned on the tracking page, you are good. Otherwise, you can click into COD details to find out how much UPS is going to charge you. And it is up to your choice to pay online instead of at door. You can start your fight since then. Good luck.

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