Shopping Discussion

How can you avoid UPS/DHL and more brokerage fees?

  • Last Updated:
  • May 9th, 2020 9:03 am
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 22, 2004
6571 posts
169 upvotes
Vancouver

How can you avoid UPS/DHL and more brokerage fees?

I was reading recently how some Taiwanese in Canada have been dinged extensively by the couriers for shipping masks recently to their family as a result of the recent lifting of exporting of masks to outside of Taiwan.

I was told on parcels that have a declared (and actual) value of $15, brokerage fees et al amount to over $100 despite the contents being declared as a gift and under $60.

Taiwan Post has stopped processing packages to Canada.

This scenario has me wonder what if I need to order something from the US and I must have it shipped back to Canada where normally I would pick it up in the US and bring it across normally.

Has anyone have experience with "self-clearing" and what's the process?
24 replies
Penalty Box
Feb 29, 2008
11778 posts
6919 upvotes
I just don't use them. If I absolutely have to....I just have the seller write value under $20.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 25, 2004
2035 posts
983 upvotes
London
$60 with gift marked don't get the broker fee waived just the tax collected by the gov. only way around it is to declare under $20 cad. or self clear witch requires u to have the track number then call the shipping company and tell them u want to self clear it. they have to give u paper work. then u have to take it to a customs office normally at an air port and manually clear it then fax the papers back to the shipping company showing u paid the taxes to customs then they will release the package. self clearing would probably be pretty hard right now id figure most of those customs office are probably closed to people just walking in.
Jr. Member
Jul 6, 2017
145 posts
91 upvotes
If you absolutely need to buy something from the US (or other countries), just avoid courier companies. Tell the seller to use their national post office (like USPS in the US). This way, the worst case scenario is that you'll have to pay sales tax (same as if you bought in Canada), duty (only sometimes, depending on product), and a $10 processing fee on delivery.

Some courier companies also offer services that go through the postal system. If you see "DHL eCommerce" or "UPS Mail Innovations" shipping you can safely use those.

And since you're specifically asking about stuff from the US:

Many retailers in the US have special deals with courier companies where they charge reasonable import fees at checkout and you avoid crazy fees at the door. E.g.: B&H Photo

If you buy on eBay from US sellers, look for listings using the Global Shipping Program. These listings include import brokerage fees in the shipping price.

You can also buy stuff from the US on amazon.ca (the .ca is important) and avoid getting gouged. Items from amazon.ca from Amazon's US warehouses charge import fees at checkout, and orders shipped from 3rd party sellers will have import fees on delivery refunded if you complain.

You can also look for .ca versions of American retailer sites, or look for Canadian resellers.

You have plenty of options for ordering from the US and not getting gouged on brokerage fees, but it requires knowledge and sometimes willingness to talk to sellers.
Sr. Member
Feb 18, 2012
741 posts
357 upvotes
Victoria
aaron158 wrote: $60 with gift marked don't get the broker fee waived just the tax collected by the gov. only way around it is to declare under $20 cad. or self clear witch requires u to have the track number then call the shipping company and tell them u want to self clear it. they have to give u paper work. then u have to take it to a customs office normally at an air port and manually clear it then fax the papers back to the shipping company showing u paid the taxes to customs then they will release the package. self clearing would probably be pretty hard right now id figure most of those customs office are probably closed to people just walking in.
It’s quite easy and you don’t have to fax anything it can all be done by email too. Not sure about other places but our customs office is right downtown.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 25, 2004
2035 posts
983 upvotes
London
Horsey2345 wrote: It’s quite easy and you don’t have to fax anything it can all be done by email too. Not sure about other places but our customs office is right downtown.
getting in to the customs office is probably not easy though at least not right now i'm betting there all closed atm.
Sr. Member
Feb 18, 2012
741 posts
357 upvotes
Victoria
aaron158 wrote: getting in to the customs office is probably not easy though at least not right now i'm betting there all closed atm.
Yes of course but people shouldnt be out shipping anything right now anyways.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 22, 2004
6571 posts
169 upvotes
Vancouver
Horsey2345 wrote: It’s quite easy and you don’t have to fax anything it can all be done by email too. Not sure about other places but our customs office is right downtown.
I imagine receiving shipments is much higher these days from overseas. Do you still have to visit a CBSA or Customs office to process the paperwork? Even if the items are below the $20 threshold? I wonder if one can just enter a Canadian border CBSA office and pay there if necessary?
Horsey2345 wrote: Yes of course but people shouldnt be out shipping anything right now anyways.
Depends, especially if you have family in other countries who need essential items and you can provide it to them.
Member
Jan 12, 2007
356 posts
93 upvotes
Orleans
UPS and Fedex include brokerage clearing in their fastest shipping methods. Ie, next day/2 day air.

For small, light packages, it's vastly cheaper to pay the "air" than getting hit for $30-60 in brokerage.
Newbie
Aug 5, 2007
66 posts
40 upvotes
UPS and FedEx are easy, once you have the tracking number, call their customer service and indicate you want to do the brokerage yourself. Once the item lands in the country, call your local customs office and pay whatever duties. It can be done over the phone (though that was a couple years ago last time i did it). Most of the time the customs office will release the package, and UPS is free to deliver.
Member
Jan 4, 2008
330 posts
120 upvotes
Mississauga
How/when will you know if you have to pay duties on an item you ordered?

I purchased an item on etsy a few weeks back, despite the order summary saying it'll ship with USPS they shipped it with DHL (they probably just put USPS as some generic placeholder since they needed to enter a shipping service).

So far I can track the order, nothing has said I need to pay anything extra, but it hasn't arrived in Canada yet so I'm not sure if they would've mentioned duties needing to be paid beforehand, or if it'll randomly appear later on during the shipping.
Deal Guru
Feb 7, 2017
13590 posts
10848 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
dxbender wrote: How/when will you know if you have to pay duties on an item you ordered?

I purchased an item on etsy a few weeks back, despite the order summary saying it'll ship with USPS they shipped it with DHL (they probably just put USPS as some generic placeholder since they needed to enter a shipping service).

So far I can track the order, nothing has said I need to pay anything extra, but it hasn't arrived in Canada yet so I'm not sure if they would've mentioned duties needing to be paid beforehand, or if it'll randomly appear later on during the shipping.
CBSA Duty & Taxes Estimator

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voya ... l-eng.html
Deal Guru
Feb 7, 2017
13590 posts
10848 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
This thread is covering a bunch of scenarios ... not just brokerage fees

So I think it might be useful to copy a recent reply I did for another RFDer
PointsHubby wrote: Everyone pays the applicable Taxes / Duties
Based on what it is you are importing, where it was made, what it is worth in CDN $
And how long ... if at all, the importer / end user has been out of the country

So the cheapest way is to be bring goods back with you after being outside of Canada
(Be that a few hours or days / weeks / months)

Second cheapest ... self clear an item.
But that requires some knowledge & organization on part of the purchaser

The first two are with a SELF DECLARATION

Third ... Import via the post to Canada Post.
And in addition to Taxes & Duties there is also a $ 9.95 CDN Processing Fee
(Although it can be waived ... up to the discretion of Canada Post / CBPA )

This one is a WRITTEN DECLARATION

And last ... Import using a Courier or Freight Co
Where they do the Customs Clearance on your behalf
So they act as your representative
That’s what the Brokerage Fee is

Of course that’s just one of the fees of going this last route
There is also ... Shipping Cost, and still any applicable Taxes & Duties
That’s what makes going this route the MOST EXPENSIVE ONE

The trade off is ... that it’s the fastest, and usually the most convenient
And often times door to door service
From the supplier to the end user
As far as Gifts are concerned .. here’s the CBSA stance on that
GIFTS

For an item to qualify as a "gift", a friend or relative must send it to you personally and include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift.

If you receive an imported gift by mail that is worth CAN$60 or less, you will not have to pay duty and/or tax on it.

If the gift is worth more than CAN$60, you will have to pay any applicable duty and/or taxes on any amount over CAN$60.

For example, if a relative sends you a gift worth CAN$200, you must pay any applicable duty, GST or HST and/or PST on CAN$140.

Items that do not qualify for the CAN$60 gift exemption include the following:

* tobacco;
* alcoholic beverages;
* advertising material; and
* items sent by a business.

As well, the CAN$60 gift exemption cannot be combined with the CAN$20 exemption that is available on most items valued at CAN$20 or less.
Additionally, at least one poster in this thread has recommended UNDER DECLARING ... this is NEVER A GOOD IDEA
Cuz you are knowingly committing a crime by doing so.
It’s a FEDERAL OFFENCE to lie to a Customs Official ... either in a VERBAL OR WRITTEN DECLARATION
As such there can be consequences ... they include up to the charge of SMUGGLING

But even at the thin end ... in addition to the Duties & Taxes Owed, Fines, Item Confiscation ... or in the case of Self Importation ... vehicle used to transport the good confiscation. In the very least, you get your name put into the CBSA Database as an UNTRUSTED IMPORTER / TRAVELLER and could be subject to secondary inspections on every time you encounter the Canadian Border.

Major frickin hassle.
And it goes on FOR YEARS

Just not worth it, when in fact the applicable Duties & Taxes are usually much less money owing than most anticipate

JUST DONT DO IT ... TELL THE TRUTH
Deal Addict
May 22, 2015
1537 posts
1742 upvotes
Vancouver
Just tell them to use their national postal service.

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