Home > Canada > International Shipping Into Canada (Customs, Duties, Brokerage and Taxes!)

International Shipping Into Canada (Customs, Duties, Brokerage and Taxes!)

This post documents some guidelines on the frequently discussed subject of international shipping into Canada. So many deals out there come from other nations, typically the USA, Hong Kong, UK, which naturally means that buyers’ shipment will be exposed to scrutiny from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This is the agency that can add on taxes and duties.

The fees you pay will fall into three categories:

  • Taxes
  • Duties
  • Brokerage

Taxes will be charged on all orders valued over CAD $20 (not including shipping.) The taxes are equal to Federal and Provincial taxes in your province.

Duties that depend on the type of goods and where the goods were made will be charged. For US and Mexico-made items, no duties apply due to NAFTA. Outside of that, the calculation is not simple and beyond the scope of this post.

Brokerage is the fee charged by the shipping company to deal with the paperwork and administrative process of clearing and accounting for the items through the CBSA, and paying the duties and taxes up front so the shipment can move on.

If the value of your order (not including shipping cost) is under $20 and it’s shipped by regular postal mail, you will not have to pay anything.

If you have to pay any of these things, the shipping guy will show up at the door asking for money before you get the package. (Some exceptions are listed below.) Have a cash or cheque ready, or give it to the front desk of your condo. If you’re not home or the receiver does not have money available, the shipment will fail and they will have to try again.

I came across this great little calculator that helps in calculating the actual dollar amounts paid depending on the shipping method:  The Final Cost.

Rules

  1. There’s nothing you can really do to get out of taxes and duty, unless you feel like committing fraud, or trying your luck driving to a mailbox service in the USA.
  2. Taxes and duty are determined by the government, so they will not vary from one shipper to another.
  3. Brokerage is what can really catch you off guard. NEVER ship by UPS Ground! They have extremely expensive brokerage fees. UPS Worldwide Express Plus, UPS Worldwide Express, UPS Worldwide Express Saver, and UPS Worldwide Expedited Services do not have this problem (but tend to have a greater upfront cost.)
  4. Update (1): Please see the comments for a legal but labour-intensive method of avoiding paying courier brokerage.
  5. Update (2): Please see comments #96-#110 below from “Andy,” who has done a fantastic job of investigating the difference between “self-clearing” and “accounting” for your goods crossing the border. This very detailed chronicle will probably help numerous readers.
  6. Be careful of DHL as sometimes they will not ask for cash at the door, but the customs bill will arrive half a year later in the mail.
  7. Fedex and Purolator are more reasonable than UPS.
  8. If you or the receiver do not have cash on hand, you may be able to phone the courier company and pay the extra fees over the phone by credit card before the shipment arrives. It definitely works for UPS, but I don’t know about the others. Just be sure to do this after the shipment has cleared customs, otherwise the duties and taxes will not be known.
  9. Cheapest alternative is shipping by USPS because the brokerage will be done by Canada Post for a fixed cost of $9.95. (Price updated 2013)
  10. The CBSA can and will open your packages for screening purposes from time to time.

Stupid Things To Avoid

Here are some extra tips (aside from avoiding UPS Ground) that can save you from trouble.

  • Don’t ship porn or gay/lesbian interest materials. The CBSA people arguably fancy themselves to be some kind of morality police.
  • There’s a lot of other categories of sexual products they will reject, but I won’t get into the details or argue about whether or not the government should be the morality police in this blog. You can find this information if you need it. Just use your common sense.
  • If the seller of some eBay or other forum item is promising to unconditionally pay the customs / duty fees, it’s probably a scam and the seller will likely vanish right after you make payment.
  • Don’t get caught trying to get shippers to make false declarations, such as incorrect dollar values or gift declarations for non-gifts. The CBSA can re-assess the values of things, and will not believe your gift declaration unless certain conditions are met. If you get caught trying to scam something across the border, you may get onto the CBSA hit-list and be subject to more frequent and stringent screening.

Exceptions

Here are a few exceptions to the rules above:

  • Shipments from Amazon.com into Canada for items that are actually shipped and sold by Amazon.com have all customs-related charges included in the checkout price, so you won’t be paying extra at the border. Be careful here because many items at amazon.com are actually sold by and shipped from other companies. Read the listing carefully.
  • TireRack.com is in the same category as Amazon.com.
  • A few other companies fit this profile, and you can find this out from their own FAQs.
  • Products shipped into Canada due to repair / replacement / warranty / etc. will not be charged duties or taxes because they are not a new item. However you can still be charged brokerage on these $0 fees. (Beware UPS Ground as usual.)
  • If the taxes and duties added on were genuinely incorrect, you can appeal the fees. If you shipped through USPS / Canada Post, the form is on the back of the CBSA papers attached to your shipment. Otherwise, follow the dispute procedure, which should lead you to Form B2G.
Categories: Canada Tags: ,
  1. wickedlydark
    January 20, 2010 at 6:04 am | #1

    Excellent post!

    In addition to the retailers mentioned above, online shops that use Borderfree (such as Sephora, Guess, eBags etc.) also charge you taxes and duty in advance on your order. Zappos.ca does as well. At a glance, this seems to be an easier way to shop – knowing in advance what you are paying, and using one payment to the merchant for all incurred costs. On the other hand, sometimes you luck out and order don’t have tax assessed when they arrive, so you can save money in the longrun.

    Regardless of the merchant or shipment details, avoid UPS Ground like the plague. I avoid UPS all together after several lost or missing or redirected shipments anyway.

    I have had one FedEx invoice arrive after the fact. I received a free item (through a contest) via FedEx, and 4 weeks later a surprise invoice arrived in my mailbox for $25.00 (on an item that retailed for under $20.) It’s buyer beware when shopping cross border.

    • kp
      November 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm | #2

      I got the same situation after received item in 2 weeks , suddenly i received Canada FedEx invoice charged me $25.00 , even total cost paid off everything to seller on Amazon , i thought the item bought very good deal but it is not good deal as plus Canada FedEx invoice cost together with total cost was paid to seller . Now i know canada FedEx play that game which taught me a lesson that i never forget . From that , everytime i order something if i see seller to use shipping by FedEx , then i back off and do not buy
      Please consider that the total cost plus FedEx invoice( surprise me ) making the item
      is no more good deal as your labor made time hunting cheaper prices online , then Canada
      FedEX invoice jump in suddenly and take all . I calculated after got FedEx invoice , i prefer to shop in my local , i ask myself that why do i order online in order to pay more , waiting more time , not touching item and if you do not like item , you have to send them back paying more for shipping , ..etc my conclusion do not deal sellers having Canada FedEx shipping , by your experience on UPS ground that i learned too.

  2. LVSfree
    June 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm | #3

    Actually you can avoid the Brokerage fee on items ship by courier valued under $1600 Canadian. It takes a bit of work but I did some research for a friend. Here is what I found:

    A courier need your permission to represent you as a broker. The authority for this is found in D1-6-1 http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/d…d1-6-1-eng.pdf

    “4. Any person who proposes to transact business with CBSA as the agent of another person is responsible for ensuring that the proper authority has been granted. The written authority is often referred to as an agency agreement or a power of attorney.”

    This means of course you always have the right to clear your goods yourself or using any broker you want. Generally couriers get permission to act as your broker when you sign for the goods, in fact the LVS (low value shipment) regulations specifically allow for them to do this, however they also give you the right to decline to use them.

    Now I should mention the information I am referencing for this post is only LVS courier casual goods. That means the goods have to be valued at under $1600 Canadian and not be controlled, prohibited or regulated by an act of Parliament. To qualify as Casual the goods have to be for the personal use of an individual and not be commercial goods.

    We find the regulations for LVS courier goods in D 17-4-0

    http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/d…17-4-0-eng.pdf

    “1. The Courier Low Value Shipment (LVS) Program streamlines the reporting, release and accounting procedures for certain goods imported by courier. Couriers authorized by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to participate in the program may have qualifying goods released by presenting a cargo/release list to the CBSA. To qualify under this program the goods must:
    (a) be valued at less than CAN$1,600; and
    (b) not be controlled, prohibited or regulated by an Act of Parliament”

    So what does LVS mean?

    from D17-4-0 again

    “11. The cargo/release list for authorized participants of the Courier LVS Program is to be used in place of individual cargo control and release documents for goods valued under CAN$1,600. The list must be presented to the CBSA by the courier before or as soon as the shipments arrive in Canada. It must contain a concise description of the LVS qualifying goods so that the border services officer can determine the admissibility of the goods.”

    So the courier gives customs information on the goods they are bringing in to Canada.

    Next if the goods are not being released at the office they enter Canada at they can move inbond to the office of release. This is important to note because UPS will often argue that the goods have to be released at the office of arrival but this is not true and we know it is not true because the LVS regulations tell us so.

    Again from D-17-4-0

    “16. When Courier LVS goods arrive in Canada at an office other than the office of release, the in-bond movement of the shipments to the office of release is permitted, provided that the entire container or load is moved inland.”

    So the courier following these regulations moves your LVS parcel in bond eventually to a distribution centre near the importer. At this point the goods have not been accounted for, that is no duties and taxes have been paid yet, and the courier can not release them to the importer until they have.

    So now the goods are in the UPS warehouse near your house and they bring them to your door. Lets see what the D 17-4-0 says about what happens next.

    “Release and Accounting
    54. Once the CBSA releases the casual goods, the courier delivers the shipment to the importer. The duties and taxes owing are paid by the importer to the courier. Afterwards, the courier or its agent accounts for the goods on an “F” type entry which is presented to the CBSA before the 24th day of the next month, with the duties and taxes payable by the end of that month.”

    Ah so you pay the courier your duties and taxes (and brokerage fee), receive your goods and then the courier goes ahead and acts as your broker and pays the duties and taxes with an F type entry the next month.

    So what happens if you decide you don’t want to pay the duties and taxes and brokerage fee to the courier? Surely the regulations state that the goods have to go back to the office of arrival right? and you have to pay the duties and taxes at that office right?That’s what UPS told my friend. Wrong.

    D 17-4-0

    “56. If an importer wishes to account for the goods himself or herself, the courier does not release the shipment to the importer but holds the goods until the importer presents satisfactory proof that the appropriate duties and taxes have been paid directly to the CBSA. The importer must note the unique shipment identifier number and contact the courier to determine where the goods are held in a bonded warehouse until the release is effected.”

    So the courier hangs on to the goods which are still in-bond at their warehouse. The courier must provide the importer with information as to where the goods are, what the unique shipment identifier number is (they would have provided this to customs earlier as part of the cargo/release list noted in section 11). Now you the importer can take that information along with a bill or invoice from the shipper to your nearest customs office and get a B15 done for free. Customs will do all the work. Take that back to UPS and then as noted in section 56 of D17-4-0 they must release the goods to you.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    Now simply put if a courier, say UPS, arrives at your door and you refuse to pay the duties and taxes, you want to do this:

    Ask them where the goods are going now, which will be the nearby warehouse. (they may threaten to take them back to the border warehouse but this does not make sense from a economical sense on their part, is not supported by the LVS regulations and even if they do you can still clear your goods at the office closest to you)

    Next ask for the unique shipment identifier number.

    Print out a copy of the invoice from the shipper (most online shippers email this to you if not request a copy after you place your order)

    Take these three pieces of information with you to your nearest CBSA office and ask for a B15.

    Return to UPS with your B15, which will show you paid your duties and taxes and receive your goods.

    If they give you any kind of hassle print out a copy of D 17-4-0 to support your right to clear the goods yourself and show that the goods do not have to be accounted for at the border entry office.

    Armed with this information my friend was able to get a number from UPS that he brought to customs and was able to get UPS to accept a B15 and release his goods.

    Hope folks that are forced to use a courier find this useful. Knowledge is power. By the way all the customs regulations can be found on the CBSA website at http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/menu-eng.html

    • June 1, 2010 at 9:32 pm | #4

      Very useful LVSfree, thanks for taking the time to post it!

  3. June 9, 2010 at 9:44 am | #5

    Hello
    Actually i have laptop in USA and now i want to ship that laptop to my sister in canada. So i want to know is there any additional chargrs that i should pay except shipping cost?

    • June 9, 2010 at 5:07 pm | #6

      I am not too sure of how the laws apply to personal effects as they may just treat the laptop as a gift and apply normal tax rates to it. If you are close to the border, you can save a lot of hassle by driving across and mailing it from in Canada.

      If you want a more definitive answer, call the CBSA.

  4. darethehair
    June 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm | #7

    Ah! The expert article that I was looking for! Two questions please:

    1) I am still a bit confused about the ‘Amazon.com’ situation. For example, there is a special camera lens that I am interested in, and when I process the cart entry I get the following:

    Items: $284.95
    Shipping & Handling: $26.48
    Total Before Tax: $311.43
    Estimated Tax:* $0.00

    So, the ‘Shipping & Handling’ already includes duties, brokerage, etc. — even though they use (apparently, I am not sure) DHL or UPS for shipping? Can I be certain of this before I commit the purchase? And why can’t they estimate the ‘Tax’? That would just be PST + GST?

    2) For eBay purchases, is there any difference in costs (duty?) between ordering from the US versus the UK (say, for the same item at the same costs)? I have read that stuff like camera lenses are *not* charged duty from the US even if they are not manufactured there (!).

    • June 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm | #8

      1) Be careful here, I suspect this item is listed on amazon.com but actually sold by some other company. You should re-check the listing to see if it says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” I am suspicious here because items that truly are sold by and shipped from amazon.com will show an “Import Fees Deposit” line in the final total before you purchase, and this is the upfront taxes / duty / brokerage. You didn’t list that.

      If it’s from some other company, then it is the normal deal where you’ll be charged brokerage and taxes at the border. If not, then I’m not sure, it is not consistent with what I’ve seen from amazon.com in the past.

      2) Duties are technically based on the type of item and where it’s manufactured. In theory, the country where it’s shipped from is immaterial. That said, I’ve seen the customs people assign duties based on the country from where the items where shipped many times. A Japanese camera lens shipped from the US might be assumed to be “Made in USA” and charged 0% duties because of lazy customs agents or whatever.

      But really, if there is some mistake and you got overcharged, then fill out form B2G as mentioned in my blog post to get it corrected.

  5. darethehair
    June 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm | #9

    doesitblog :
    1) Be careful here, I suspect this item is listed on amazon.com but actually sold by some other company. You should re-check the listing to see if it says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” I am suspicious here because items that truly are sold by and shipped from amazon.com will show an “Import Fees Deposit” line in the final total before you purchase, and this is the upfront taxes / duty / brokerage. You didn’t list that.

    You were correct! The Amazon page actually says “Ships from and sold by Ace Photo Digital”. Thanks for the warning! Unfortunately, this leaves me few options: no photography sites in Canada sell the lens, so that only leaves eBay US or eBay UK for my choices :(

    • June 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm | #10

      For a $300 item, the taxes are not going to be insane. Unless you are very near the border, I say just buy it and make sure it’s shipped through a low-brokerage method. Pay the taxes when it arrives.

  6. darethehair
    June 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm | #11

    doesitblog :
    For a $300 item, the taxes are not going to be insane. Unless you are very near the border, I say just buy it and make sure it’s shipped through a low-brokerage method. Pay the taxes when it arrives.

    Taxes (GST/PST) are OK with me. Even ‘duty’ is OK with me (I guess). What I worry about is some sort of hidden/surprise charge e.g. brokerage. Since it is NOT a direct Amazon.com sale, I don’t know how to find out what the total costs will be :(

  7. July 31, 2010 at 6:02 pm | #12

    Great Post Doesitblog! LVS free, You are bang on with Courier Companies needing your permission to act as a broker as per the D memorandums. You always have the option to self clear. I would recommend this option as the brokerage fees can vary. It exactly as you said, just go to your local Customs office and present ID, invoices/receipts/proof of payment and 2 copies of the shipping documents (Cargo Control Document – which has location of goods, your name and address as the consignee, and the Cargo control number) and you will get a B15 which you then send to the Courier Company who must then remove any charges to you…that is if you haven’t signed off somewhere giving them broker priviledges over your shipment. Also provide proof of origin of your goods…(where they are manufactured) as you may qualify for a lower rate of duty or no duty at all. Canada has free trade agreements with a number of countries like Israel, Costa Rica, Peru, aside from the NAFTA countries. Goods from US or Mexico with a NAFTA certificate. Under a value of $1600 a simple statement from the exporter will suffice and over $1600 you need a certificate of origin or a statement from the exporter in the prescibed format as described in the D-memos. Some goods from other countries like China qualify for a lower duty rate under the General Preferential Treatment Tariff so it is good to have the supporting documents. I say some goods because goods like Clothing do not qualify for lower duty rate. The best Tariff Treatment is 02 most favoured nation which oddly enough is the second highest duty rate possible…not very favoured I guess..Another point to mention is that with goods over $1600 the CBSA can ask for Canada Customs Invoice as well as the original invoice if there is more required information.
    Another point I’d like to add is the caveat that regular post is the cheapest at $5 and EMS post at $8 but the processing time can vary from “wow that was quick to “where the hell is my package” to “damn its broken” or “I can’t believe my package is missing”. I for one would never ship via regular post without a dsclaimer to all customers about the forementioned issues…especially near holidays like Xmas. cheers.

  8. Jennifer
    March 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm | #13

    Hello all,

    I am trying to put together a story about American retailers that are choosing to cease shipments to Canada, due to “brokerage fee” and other hidden fee complaints – Zappos.com being one of the most recent examples.

    Would you be willing/able to share your opinions about this with me directly? Kindly advise.

    Thanks so much.

    • March 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm | #14

      Jennifer, I don’t blame the US companies. The CBSA adds an incredible amount of hassle into doing business. Just another example of how the government messing around in people’s lives does us no good.

  9. Kim
    April 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm | #15

    One of the craziest ones to order from is ThinkGeek. :( I love their stuff, but honestly… the shipping to Canada from US costs me more than most items are worth and on top of it (they ship through DHL) and DHL had me pay customs and extra fees (apparently customs opened it up as well and decided to charge me more) for an extra $30 some odd dollars. In addition to my shipping fees already paid through ThinkGeek.

    *sighs* The items were maybe worth $50 altogether. And that’s being generous.

    I don’t mind paying the taxes, that’s no problem… it’s when they charge you for nonsensical things after shipping that really gets me.

    • April 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm | #16

      Thinkgeek also has (or had) UPS Worldwide Express Saver, which does not charge extra brokerage.

  10. Nic
    August 19, 2011 at 7:40 am | #17

    Great post, very informative. I also had a question. I want to order something in the US, and its being shipped to Canada, Quebec. Cost of shipping is 35.00$, via USPS and cost of item is 64.95$. Now here’s the problem, I want to send them the 99.95$ for the cost of shipping and the cost of the item. But since, I’m not sure about the cost of tax and brokerage (the item is made in the US), if decided not to include that in the payment of the item and shipping (the company that makes the item is not sure about GST/HST…), so my idea was that I pay the item and shipping and when it comes through the border and they realize that I haven’t paid the taxes, duties…, the shipping guy will come to my house and tell me to pay the taxes, so that I can receive my item and we all live happily ever after. Do you think my plan will work?

    Thanks,

    Nic

    • August 19, 2011 at 9:10 am | #18

      If it is USPS, it is very simple. Just pay the seller for the product and for the USPS shipping. The seller does NOT have anything to do with taxes and brokerage unless they have some pre-arranged deal like amazon, tirerack, etc to get you to pay the taxes up front.

      Just make sure they write the real value of the product on the customs declaration. That will be executed by the CBSA when the item crosses the border. The Canada Post guy will show up at your door asking for the brokerage and taxes. Note that Canada Post brokerage recently jumped from $5.00 to $8.50.

  11. Chelsea
    October 21, 2011 at 1:22 am | #19

    I have a question – could you explain to me how an item (2 items actually – dresses from the UK) which I paid 71 pounds sterling for, would have $45 CDN fees (taxes, duty, brokerage) associated with them?
    I ordered from ASOS.com who previously used DHL in Canada for their deliveries but the last few shipments arrived CanadaPost (*I think). When the package came to the door I didn’t even have $45 in cash on me because I never thought it would be so much!!
    I haven’t paid it yet so I haven’t got the invoice to see how this fee is being calculated but I’m curious, is it tricky to dispute these charges?

  12. October 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm | #20

    @ Chelsea – Considering that the 71 GBP would have incurred about $15 of sales tax in your province, the rest of the $30 must be split between duties and brokerage.

    Are you SURE that it was delivered by Canada Post? If so, you musth have paid $7 in brokerage and $23 in duties. What exactly did you receive? The Canada Post paperwork attached to the shipping box should outline the percentage duty fees on whatever it was. If you disagree with the brokerage assessment, you can file a form B2G with the CBSA to get it re-assessed.

    On the other hand, I suspect the real situation is that you probably received it from UPS or something, didn’t pay duties, but got messed over on brokerage. This is basically rip-off fees that UPS uses to capitalize on these kinds of deliveries.

  13. October 23, 2011 at 2:31 am | #21

    I want to buy a $2200 DSLR Camera, the camera costs the same from both epay-Hong Kong and here in Canada.
    1. Should I consider just buying it from down the street and paying the GST while allowing myself comfort knowing any warranty issue can be addressed by same?
    2. Order from Hong Kong and hope for the best.
    I am leaning towards buying from down the street and helping my neighbour feed his kids and keep his shop open, than wait around for a camera with limited warranty and possibly some outrageous brokerage, duty and tax scam.
    Correct?

    I should mention that I have done several transactions with epay and that whole thing is mixed with rip off artists just like craigslist, and ebay/paypal themselves along with customs are the worst offenders. How is it that I will order $750 worth of brand new RC parts and all I pay is the shipping nothing said, dropped at my front door sign here and thanks goodbye. Then I win some crappy used set of warn out rims/tires for an RC truck of epay for $14 – $5 shipping and when it gets to my door I owe $25 on top for brokerage/duty/customs whatever… OMG this is a complete scam. More steal from the poor and give the rich a brake crap wow!

  14. October 23, 2011 at 11:00 am | #22

    If I was in your position, I would definitely go local. Even beyond the issues of taxes / shipping / duty / warranty, you never know what could happen in the shipping. Things could get damaged or the wrong item could be shipped. Disputes over a $2200 camera with a seller in another country could get nasty.

    Just avoid the complications and buy local. Maybe you could get a discount from the local store if you pay cash because they would not be eating any credit card merchant fees.

  15. Charles
    October 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm | #23

    Any comments on warranty work? It seems that forms are made for gifts and merchandise. If I have to send something to Canada for work, it’s not a gift for either end nor is it merchandise that either end has purchased. And if it is merchandise than the value is zero as it’s already been paid for.

  16. October 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm | #24

    Charles, that is a good question. I am on the other end of that equation so I am not entirely sure how it work work for someone in the US trying to get Canadian warranty service.

    I have had repaired/replacement warranty items come in from the USA and never paid taxes on them because of the declaration. I think the customs people do actually read the declaration.

    My guess is that you should write something on the declaration like “defective product for warranty service” and value it at $1.00 or something.

  17. October 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | #25

    Charles and Doesitblog this is a question I have been looking for a answer now for a couple of months! Any ideas on what the best way to mark a package that is under warranty and is being sent as a replacement?

    • October 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm | #26

      I assume you are from a business in the USA that is trying to ship a warranty replacement product into Canada without putting more taxes on the recipient.

      This can definitely be done, as I have definitely received replacement products from the USA in the past with no customs duty / tax exposure. (Brokerage is another matter.) The first thing you should do is swear off UPS and go specifically with USPS if possible. Even if the package is worth not much, the recipient will probably still have to fork out big money for brokerage.

      I am not sure exactly what you have to do, but make sure the description on the customs form says it is a warranty replacement, and provide some kind of warranty replacement paperwork INSIDE the shipping box. (Customs will open and inspect it sometimes. I have NEVER seen them open any paperwork attached to the outside of the box.)

  18. November 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm | #27

    My problem is that I receive educational materials from a school in California.
    Every month the tiny box that is delivered by FedEx has an invoice of $17.00 CAN.
    The items inside are worthless, have no resale value, they’re for examination purposes only AND I send them back to the school (intact) every month. I use Canada post to send them back because Fed Ex is too expensive for me.
    I submit my receipts to this effect every month and request my money back for the R.O.D. charge.
    My disputes have yet to be acknowledged by any sort of communication.
    Last week, the border official mistakenly valued this box at over $900.00. I would be liable for the duty on that amount. !!!!!!!! Where she arrived at that number is beyond me or my school. I ordered her to send the box back and hope that the next box goes through a different official. One that can read the note inside describing the contents and their non-value and use.
    I was “invited” to go to the local airport and meet with the officials to dispute the charge. It’s an awfully, long way out there and I know I will just get angry/frustrated/thrown in jail after arguing with these guys. When I’m finished with this course, these accumulated charges will be around $700.00 for receiving and about $700.00 sending. This is about the amount I paid for the full course. P.S. I’M NOT RICH.
    ~S

    • November 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm | #28

      Shawnna, that really sounds like a nasty situation. The $17.00 is probably a combination of taxes, duty and brokerage. You cannot get the brokerage back. Is it a B2G form you are submitting to the CBSA? I have done it and it takes about a month in my experience.

      There has to be something you can do about the classification of your goods. I do not know exactly what the shipper has to do on their end, but you might want to contact the CBSA to ask about how these classifications work. I have received books and such and never had to pay anything because they were replacements or warranty items. There must be something similar for situations like there where you are not actually taking ownership of what you receive.

  19. November 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm | #29

    Thanks.
    The charges are $10.00 ROD? then GST and such.
    When I first complained to Fed Ex, they told me to download the
    “FedEx Clearance Charges Dispute Notification Form(Canadian Payor)”. I was not aware of the B2 form until yesterday. I will start using them immediately.
    Later today, my school just faxed FedEX a statement as to the goods I’m receiving. Let’s see If I can proceed.
    ~S

  20. Denish
    November 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm | #30

    I have question.

    My brother send me gift ( 2 laptops from USA) in Sep 2011 through FedEx ground. When Shipment received in Canada , custom dep. hold it and then FedEx asked me to get it clear from CBSA. The total shipement value was less then 1000 but it has no commerical value as its for home use only.

    So I went to CBSA office and shown them
    1)the proof of payment made by my brother
    2) Declartion from my brother that its gift to me and he has paid the money.
    3) I am in Canada for 3-4 months only on a valid workpermit and going back to my home country with laptops.
    4) There is no commerical value attached to laptop as I am going to use them for personal home use only.

    So finally CBSA cleared the shipment and gave the release stemp on document which FedEx Canada sent me.

    Now months later I got letter from FedEx trade network asking me to pay @110 for Tax and Brokerage. I think I am not suppose to pay this and its mistake from FedEx. But want to confirm it. Please advise.

    • November 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm | #31

      @ Denish
      Firstly, since you are a resident of Canada, you are still subject to taxes / duties on what you receive, even if it is a gift for personal use. I heard of a case where customs confiscated a rolex watch he was wearing because he received it as a gift outside of Canada.

      The fact is that this situation applies to you, so you have to pay taxes and (if applicable) duties.

      Now if you had actually personally cleared the laptops and paid the taxes / duties to the CBSA, then you might have a case for not having to pay Fedex. What it sounds like you did is just verify the value and then let things slide through Fedex’s normal clearing process where they are acting as your agent. Therefore Fedex advanced the taxeson the laptops and therefore you owe for taxes and brokerage fees.

      Welcome to Canada. The taxman lurks even in the most unexpected places!

      • Denish
        November 11, 2011 at 10:03 am | #32

        First I am not not resident of Canada. I am here on Work permit. I approched FedEx and its not clear that I donot have to pay anything to FedEx as I had paid and cleared everything from CBSA.

        Anyways that for input.

  21. November 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm | #33

    @Denish – If you are working here and paying Canadian income taxes on your income, you are a resident.

    But the bigger issue is that based on the additional information you provided, it sounds like you did actually pay the taxes and clear the shipment yourself through the CBSA. Since this is the case, you should dig up any paperwork you received from this payment and inform Fedex of that fact that you had paid the CBSA directly. You might have to fax Fedex a copy of your B15 form (if any.)

  22. Debbie
    November 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm | #34

    Hi there, I’m looking at ordering some clothes for myself from a UK website that ship to Canada up to the value of $320 dollars, will they charge me taxes on arrival to Canada? If so, is there anyway I could find out how much? Thanks

    • November 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm | #35

      @ Debbie, at minimum you will get charged sales taxes and brokerage. Clothing may have other duties depending on its country of manufacture – Bangladesh? China? India? Who knows? I am not the expert on duty levels for particular products, but I think the rate is 18% for clothes made outside Canada / USA / Mexico.

      • Debbie
        November 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm | #36

        Thats a great help thanks, do you know if they also charge for gifts too? I’m a UK resident and am expecting xmas presents from the UK….if they charge then I’ll tell my family not to bother!!

      • November 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm | #37

        Gifts have a slightly higher exception, I think $60, but for a $320 shipment you will be charged the same as if you had bought it yourself.

        I think I mentioned it elsewhere on here, I heard of one guy who received a very expensive gift Rolex watch while overseas and customs saw it and confiscated it at the airport because he did not have the vast amount of taxes and and duties they demanded.

  23. Debbie
    November 11, 2011 at 9:17 pm | #38

    Thanks for your help, I will bear that in mind. Sounds like it might be easier to just shop over here!!

  24. Corey
    November 14, 2011 at 11:22 am | #39

    Hey there!
    Im having an art print shipped from Japan to Vancouver, Canada. The seller has asked me what value I wish them to put on the package. The value I am paying is about $800 Canadian. I am not sure if they can actually re-value a print like this, but I am also not super keen on paying another $200 or so?

    I guess I’ll have to do what it takes to get it.. but thoughts on the declaration value?

    • November 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm | #40

      @Corey – Hi, Sorry for the delay in my response.

      My opinion is that you should follow the law and declare the real value. You will pay sales taxes. I do not know what the duties on art are like. The duties depend on the country of manufacture, rather than the country from which it was shipped.

      If you decided to cheat and put a lower number, it might slip through customs if it is a unique piece because they don’t have much of a way to value it (unless it’s listed on a website for sale or something.) But you never know, they could hold it and ask for proof of payment. These are dangerous games and I prefer to just declare the real value.

  25. November 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm | #41

    Also…..stuff really does get lost in transport. My Mom FINALLY got reimbursed for her lost shipment within Canada.
    I had a package disappear within Canada also, but since I did not declare any value, I am S.O.L.

  26. Sarah
    December 7, 2011 at 6:37 pm | #42

    I ordered some items from the US (I’m in Cda) and the duty/taxes/etc. will be $45, as stated on the slip they left me (I wasn’t home when it was delivered). I am supposed to go to the post office to pick it up, but I’ve changed my mind about the items (the initial cost plus this $45 makes them less appealing). I don’t want to pay the $45 and then return the items, so what happens if I just don’t pick the shipment up from the post office?

    • December 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm | #43

      Not sure… I think it gets returned to sender eventually.
      Your other option is to pay the money, return the shipment, and file a form B2G. You’ll get everything back except the brokerage.

  27. ashley
    December 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm | #44

    I am planning to place an order for some product to be shipped from the US. The value of the shipment is $18. I understand that I won’t be charged duties or taxes as its under the $20 limit, but will FedEx still charge me the brokerage fee?

    • December 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm | #45

      Yes, most likely. Look up the details of the particular shipping method (i.e. express, priority, etc) to see if it includes brokerage.
      Ship by USPS to be safer on that front.

  28. Sakinaa
    December 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm | #46

    Hi there
    i am looking for some advice here. I would like to order a cosmetic cream on ebay worth 100 dollars from seller. What kind of taxes, duties and brokerage fees can i incur. Can i suggest the seller to ship from USPS to minimize the broker charges. Looking for any unexpected payments that i need to pay when claiming the package.

    • December 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm | #47

      @Sakinaa, you will certainly avoid some brokerage fees if you ship USPS. The downside is that you won’t tracking, so in the case that your $100 cream gets lost in the mail, you may be in trouble. The USPS shipping will result in $7 brokerage + duties + taxes. The duties will depend on the cream’s manufacturing origin. The taxes will be the sales taxes in your province.

  29. Steve
    January 1, 2012 at 3:40 am | #48

    I have a question.

    My son wants to purchase a bicycle from the UK. The price is $369. CDN and shipping to Canada is free. How much extra am I looking at having to fork out for brokerage, duties, etc?

    • January 1, 2012 at 4:41 am | #49

      @Steve, that depends on the shipping method and the manufacturing origin of the bicycle. “Free” shipping can still incur brokerage charges. Try the shipping calculator at http://www.thefinalcost.com to get a good estimate.

  30. Max
    January 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm | #50

    Hi there, I want to order $1000 worth of merchandise, it’s very light, a collector’s item, it’s from the USA and will ship to my home in Canada. It’s shipping to USPS International Priority which costs 30.00. I checked http://www.thefinalcost.com but the final price is 1118. So I’ll be charged 118? or 1118? let me know!

    • January 15, 2012 at 11:58 pm | #51

      @Max, not sure what province you’re in, but $118 sounds like a ballpark correct number. It might be a few dollars higher new since Canada Post increased their brokerage fee from $5 to $8.50.

      • Max
        January 16, 2012 at 12:02 am | #52

        sorry I live in Calgary, Alberta. Thx for the answer!

      • Max
        January 16, 2012 at 12:34 am | #53

        oh, how much of a percent is it in Alberta? thx!

  31. January 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm | #54

    OK I see what’s going on here: TheFinalCost.ca converts from US to CAD, and I had forgotten to account for shipping costs in my previous calculation.

    You should expect to pay the GST + 8.50 at the door, plus any duties if the item is not made in USA.

    • Max
      January 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm | #55

      so essentially it’ll be higher than 118+8.50? so like 126.50-ish?

  32. Max
    January 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm | #56

    oookay i see what you’re saying so 69-ish plus duty

  33. Max
    January 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm | #57

    sorry how do I calculate duty? I’ve googled it, can’t seem to find it..

    • January 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm | #58

      @Max the calculation of duty is extremely complicated. It depends on the type of goods and country of manufacture. All items Made in USA and Mexico are duty-free.

  34. rose
    March 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm | #59

    Hi I ordered an item from the u.k. and the post office now has it and attached the $40 for duty. I no longer want the item so would they send the package back to sender and to get rid of the duty charges does that apply to what you wrote above? thanks.

    • March 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm | #60

      I suggest you talk to the post office and tell them you’re not going to sign for it and you want it returned to the sender. Not sure exactly how the mechanics of situations like this work.

  35. Janice
    March 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm | #61

    Hi,

    I decided to order various jewellery pieces from e-bay. The items are being shipped from Hong Kong and China (different vendors). Do you know if I will get charged any brokerage fees (and estimate cost of it — is that Canada Post at $8.50 for each package?). The highest amount from 1 package would be $35. With the others all under $15 US. I have the items being shipped econonmy international as the vendor doesn’t charge for shipping. Thanks.

    • March 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm | #62

      @Janice, you will probably get charged something for the $35 package, assuming it was declared at the real value. (In some cases they don’t declare it at the real value. Maybe they want repeat business?) Assuming the $35 item was shipped by regular postal mail, you’re probably looking at $8.50 + sales taxes in your province.

  36. kpopaddict
    March 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm | #63

    I’m thinking of ordering $65 (+13 shipping)worth of clothing from spreadshirt.com. It will be shipped with USPS International Economy to Ontario, Canada. Will I have to pay alot for brokerage, taxes duties? I’m pretty sure that the clothing was made in the US.

    • March 17, 2012 at 11:11 pm | #64

      Most likely it will be just $8.50 brokerage and the 13% sales tax on the $65. (Shipping cost is irrelevant.) They probably won’t bother to hit you with duty on something worth $65.

      • caroline hall
        May 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm | #65

        I have never bought anything on Ebay before & it’s last duvet cover from Ikea (U.S.) to Canada. It’s $65.09 CDN + shipping. Problem is I don’t know if customs considers made in U.S. or how much duty may likely be. I need to know fast – can anyone please give me a best guess?

      • May 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm | #66

        @Caroline – I doubt customs will care about duties for a 65 dollar item. It’s probably not even worth their time to look it up for something that small. There’s a very high chance you’ll just get charged the normal brokerage and sales tax.

  37. Angela Mac
    March 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm | #67

    My friend wants to send me a few gifts for my birthday. The tags are still on the gifts. He lives in UK and I live in Canada. Do you know what taxes we will have to pay and how much?
    (The products he bought was from eBay) ie. Bench Clothing etc….
    any suggestions what to do? Thank you

    • March 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm | #68

      Most likely it will be the same as if you had purchased the items yourself, unless the value is under $60. If it is in fact under $60, make sure there is some kind of “happy birthday card” or something in the package, otherwise it will be treated as a normal purchase.

  38. dahlia
    March 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm | #69

    HELP!
    I recently ordered a trial version of a product that needs to be sent back in 30 days. The value of the product is quite high and was shipped from Minneapolis to Montreal. I was not home when UPS came to drop it off, but instead found a notice on my door saying that there was a brokerage COD of $277.
    This was NOT expected at all as this is a trial of the product and is valued on the website at $0. I don’t really know what to do as the UPS guy is coming back tomorrow. Do I accept the package? Will I have to pay? Is there any way to be reimbursed? If I send it back without accepting it, are the fees waived? If I accept it, will I have to pay this amount again when I ship it back?
    please help! I cannot afford to pay this amount

    • March 28, 2012 at 8:39 am | #70

      @dahlia, if you want to avoid paying the brokerage fee, you have only two options: (1) Reject the package, or (2) Perform the LVS self-clearance process that’s described in comment #2 below this blog entry. (You may still have to pay sales taxes but you could probably get those back by filing a B2G form after you return the product back to its owner.)

      • dahlia
        March 28, 2012 at 9:07 am | #71

        Thank you for replying,

        Does the LVS self- clearance have to be done before or after I accept and sign off on the package?
        Additionally, if I reject the package, will there be duties to be paid on the way back? The company that I ordered it from has my credit card information though, so I am worried that if I reject it, they will charge my credit card.

      • March 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm | #72

        @ Dahlia, you must do the LVS before you receive the package. Don’t worry, just don’t answer the door or whatever and the package will go to their warehouse. Then you can get your LVS clearance and take that paperwork to the local UPS warehouse. Other than that, I don’t expect the American shipper will incur more charges if you reject the shipment.

  39. Mark W
    March 28, 2012 at 10:41 am | #73

    canada post brokerage fees are now 8.50 up from 5.00

    also had to pay ~8$ for duty fees for ~50$ worth of t-shirts which were not made in USA/Canada/Mexico

    this is the first time I had to pay those duty fees and I ordered stuff hundreds of times from the USA in the past 10 years

    looks like from now on we will have to pay more for importing stuff, thanks Harper

    also had to pay provincial and federal taxes as usual

    so about 25$ custom fees for 50$ worth of t-shirts

  40. Kevin
    April 26, 2012 at 8:35 am | #74

    I recently placed an order for some suits to be shipped from Hong Kong (I’m in Ontario). The value of my order is $1900 Canadian. Is there any way I can minimize the damage I’ll face with duty costs. It comes out to approx $600! I was thinking I could always send back an similar older clothing I had to the sender and then complete a CBSA Adjustment request form. Any ideas? Thanks guys, just trying to save some of my honest earned cash

    • April 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm | #75

      @Kevin, sounds like you already placed your order. I do not recommend any actions that misrepresenet the situation. If you shipped by a courier, my recommendation is to self-clear the shipment to avoid brokerage fees. The self-clearance process is described in other comments in this blog entry.

      But there is simply no legitimate way to avoid the taxes and duties assessed at the border.

      Though I am curious to know how you determined that you’ll get charged $600 if your package is still in transit outside our borders.

    • Mike
      May 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm | #76

      Hi, I am considering to order box of 20 electronic products for demo test (is there diference in personal/ business import). What would be the best proces to minimize fees?(total cost below $1600)
      Thanks

      • May 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm | #77

        @Mike, I believe there is provision in the customs clearance process for Sample Items, but I am really not knowledgeable in this area, so I can’t answer this question. Sorry

  41. Joe Nammic
    April 27, 2012 at 10:06 am | #78

    Hello Everyone

    I just ordered a pair of sneakers that cost 650 CAD, the item was shipped by USPS priority to Toronto. I wake up and see the Canada post card stating there is $221 in customs charges that need to be paid. I was not expecting that. Is there any way to lower that cost or somehow be rid of it?

    • April 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm | #79

      @Joe, there’s only 2 things I can think of to reduce or avoid paying the money:
      1) Reject the shipment and get a refund when it goes back to the seller
      2) Pay the money and then scrutinize the duty calculation to ensure that everything was properly categorized and calculated. If you find an error, file a B2G form.

      • Joe Nammic
        April 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm | #80

        If I reject the shipment does the seller have to pay customs fees when it reaches the sender? I really dont want that to happen.

  42. April 27, 2012 at 7:33 pm | #81

    @Joe – No, the sender would not have to pay customs because they are not importing something. (The original shipment never entered Canada.)

  43. channy
    June 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm | #82

    i want to purchase a new cell phone from hong kong for 299.00 FREE Expedited Int’l Shipping, can i LVS courier casual the goods since its under 1600$ ???

  44. channy
    June 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm | #84

    also im in ontario

  45. channy
    June 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm | #85

    is fed ex better then ups?

  46. irfan
    June 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm | #86

    if i bought a 2 necklaces on ebay for $19.00 (includes shipping) do i have to pay canadian customs/taxes/duties i am freaking out right now already made the payment and not sure my parents will kill me if the price is to high (item is shipped from china) please reply ASAP!! thanks

    • June 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm | #87

      @irfan – Assuming it was shipped by normal postal service, you will see no extra fees for under $20. If you get charged, make sure you dispute it by filing a form B2G.

      If you shipped by something like Fedex, DHL, etc, you might be in for brokerage fees. Try http://www.thefinalcost.ca to get an estimate.

      • irfan
        June 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm | #88

        Thank you very much
        i will ask the seller what they used to ship
        thank you again

  47. Melissa
    June 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm | #89

    Hey! So just to clarify, if a product I order is under $20, but comes to like $30 once the shipping charge has been added on, will it still be exempt from additional taxes?

    • June 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm | #90

      @Melissa – correct, shipping cost is NOT included in the $20 limit and has no effect on the calculation of taxes and duties.

      Brokerage cost, however, varies based on the shipping type. (Some shipping types include brokerage.)

      If the value is under $20 and you ship by normal postal mail, you will *never* have to pay any taxes, duties or brokerage at the door.

      • Melissa
        June 9, 2012 at 9:46 am | #91

        Thank you so much! That helps a bunch!

  48. Tami
    June 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm | #92

    Hi… I wanted to order some clothings to be shipped from Hong Kong to Ontario. Total of what I wanted to order is around $200. The order will be shipped by UPS (worldwide Express Services) and when I checked the UPS website, it indicated that for Worldwide express serivce, there is no brokerage fee. Is this correct? If so, does this means I only pay tax & duties? If so, anyone know what is the expected cost for order that value to $200? I believe all the clothings are manufactured in China or Hk.

    • June 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | #93

      @Tami – it’s true, you should not expect any brokerage charges with UPS Worldwide Express. Therefore you should only expect taxes and duties. In reality, the CBSA probably won’t waste their time calculating duties on a $200 order so you will probably pay sales taxes only.

      Since you are in Ontario, most likely you’ll only be hit with 13% HST.

      According to UPS’s site, you might also have to pay a $10 bond fee, but you can avoid this by calling in advance and prepaying the customs charges.

      • Tami
        June 12, 2012 at 7:56 am | #94

        Thanks for the confirmation! This is my first attempt to order from oversea and sure afraid of all those ‘unexpected’ costs. Since I will be paying the sales taxes.. does this means I have to drop by a UPS office to pick up the package? About prepaying the customs charges in advance, when do I need to do that since I will not know when my package will arrive and thus UPS will not know the actual custom fee amount.

      • June 12, 2012 at 8:38 am | #95

        @Tami – If you have to pay any customs-related fees, UPS will ask for money when they reach your home. Have cash or a cheque ready. If you aren’t present or can’t pay, they will attempt delivery a few times, and then you will have to pick it up at a depot.

        Alternatively, here is what I do – watch the shipment tracking, and after it clears customs, phone up UPS and pay any fees over the phone using VISA / MC. This way, you won’t have to be there with cash at the actual delivery.

        Lastly, I have been researching the bond thing. I believe you have to have an importer account set up with them, and this is only practical for businesses. The account lets them deduct fees directly from your chequing account. Therefore I don’t think you can escape the bond fees.

  49. Tami
    June 12, 2012 at 11:22 am | #96

    Thanks for all your help!

  50. Andy
    June 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm | #97

    Kudos to doesitblog :))) The information you have posted is very informative and laid out in laymen terms, I tried looking up this type of information on countless sites over the past week, including government sites, and it was either not easy at all to find or it wasn’t explained as well as your post was.
    I’m looking to order 4 pool filters from a US website and the filters are manufactured in the US, my cost for the 4 filters are 179.96 + 8.00 for shipping. The filters are being shipped via FedEx. I entered the info on TheFinalCost.com and below is their calculations,

    Currency exchange [?] :1.0000
    Price [?] :CAD$ 179.96
    Shipping [?] :CAD$ 8.00
    Duty [?] CAD$ 0.00
    Tax (GST) [?] :CAD$ 11.28
    Conversion [?] :CAD$ 4.70
    Brokerage [?] :CAD$ 31.92
    Disbursement [?] :CAD$ 6.67
    Final Price CAD$ 242.53

    The site needs to update the tax for Ontario, Canada as we now have the HST @ 13% and not just the GST the site calculates.
    So the actual final cost would be 242.53 + 12.11 = 254.64

    Now to make sure I understand you correctly, When FedEx arrives at my home I’ll just tell them to hold the shipment for pick up at their depot as I don’t have the money to pay today, but be sure I ask the driver for the for the unique shipment identifier number and what depot they are holding the shipment at. Then print a copy of the emailed invoice along with the info the FedEx driver gave me and head over to the nearest customs office and ask for a B15 form. Pay the HST of 23.39 on the 179.96 purchase, then head over to the FedEx depot give them the Customs paperwork showing the taxes have been paid and leave with my filters owing nothing more?

    • June 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm | #98

      @Andy, I have never tried the B15 process myself, but that sounds about right from my uninformed perspective.

      • Andy
        June 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm | #99

        Well I’ll give it a try and let you know how things turn out. I had read in Customs Info’s post dating back to 2010 and I quote
        “It exactly as you said, just go to your local Customs office and present ID, invoices/receipts/proof of payment and 2 copies of the shipping documents (Cargo Control Document – which has location of goods, your name and address as the consignee, and the Cargo control number) and you will get a B15 which you then send to the Courier Company who must then remove any charges to you”

        The only part I’m not sure about is how to obtain copies of the shipping/Cargo Control Documents?
        Sounds like they may privy to the shipper only?
        Any thoughts or suggestions on how to get these documents? I really don’t think FedEx would just give me a copy of these?

        thanks again for this very informative read, savings can really add up just knowing the tips you have mentioned.

      • June 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm | #100

        @Andy, I don’t think you actually need to get your hands on the shipping/Cargo Control Documents. The way I read it, that info is only used when your items are cleared across the border by the shipping company. You should only need the invoice from your online store and the unique shipment identifier.

  51. Andy
    June 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm | #101

    @doesitblog, After reading LVSfree’s and LVSinfo’s posts as well as other post on this site and other sites, as well as the D memorandums on the CBSA’s site, I have personally come to the conclusion that most of the confusion comes from what the importer is specifically asking for. eg.. when you advise that you want to “self clear” your shipment they (UPS and Other couriers) tell you that you must go to the point of entry as that is where the shipments actually clear customs, so they are correct in this info. Whereas if you mention that you want to “account for your own goods” at your local CBSA office, this is a whole different procedure that takes place after the goods “clear” customs. At least this is the info that was given to me when I phoned the local CBSA office in Kitchener. So again if I understood the agent correctly and I did ask him twice, “clearing” and “accounting” for LVS goods are 2 separate procedures. Therefore when my shipment “clears” the border with the courier, all that is needed to be done by me is “account” for the goods and pay any duties and taxes to the CBSA.

    So in summary I think people that wish to avoid the outrageous brokers fees charged by couriers and pay their own taxes, they must not mention that they want to self-clear their shipment but rather account for their own goods.

    Do you agree or disagree with my interpretation of the process?
    Once again thanks for your time and effort you have put in this blog, and making Canadians aware of their options for importing LVS goods.

    Cheers,
    Andy

    • June 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm | #102

      @Andy, honestly my preferred import method is to just drive to the US and pick it up from my favourite shipping warehouse, so I haven’t tried self-clearing process for mail. What you are saying makes sense, but I cannot verify.

  52. Andy
    July 5, 2012 at 10:10 am | #103

    I had an afterthought after my last post that I would be willing to put to the test and hopefully help end the outrageous brokerage fees for people that wish to “Account” for their own goods. I currently have goods ordered from a US supplier, the goods are valued at $200.00 and because they are for my personal and not commercial use, they would fall under the importation of LVS casual goods. Now because they are also manufactured in the USA, there should be no duties on these goods as per NAFTA. So I will ask the shipper/seller to make a note on his commercial invoice and any other documentation that accompanies my package to read: “Importer to “Account” for Goods”. Let’s see where this gets me? … lol

    I will follow up on here after I complete all the required steps to account for my goods, educate any couriers or CBSA agents along the way with legally published material from the CBSA website and have received the goods in my hands.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  53. Ty
    July 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm | #105

    I’ve spent hours on the phone with CBSA getting things tidy for some business importing, and here’s what we’ve found out.

    Shipments coming into the country through a bonded carrier (UPS, FEDEX) are forwarded to a sufferance warehouse owned by the said company. As all the service hubs are bonded, they hold this role and can hold packages awaiting final accounting. You can check the list of service hubs for UPS at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Parcel_Service_hubs

    This is why personal shipments can be cleared through the customs office located in the same city as the service hub holding your package. They go here under bond for delivery in the first place. Simply not answer the door when UPS arrives and they’ll leave you a delivery notification. Now you can complete your paperwork and continue the steps outlined by various websites on how to self-clear your shipment.

    Now for the business people here, it’s unclear if UPS/FedEx will transfer a commercial shipment to their sufferance warehouse/service hub if you instruct them that you’ll self-clear the package. Nobody seems to know the answer to this question, and I have yet to test it myself. Hopefully there’s someone here that can shed some light on the question.

  54. Andy
    July 18, 2012 at 10:50 am | #106

    Ty asked: “Now for the business people here, it’s unclear if UPS/FedEx will transfer a commercial shipment to their sufferance warehouse/service hub if you instruct them that you’ll self-clear the package. Nobody seems to know the answer to this question, and I have yet to test it myself. Hopefully there’s someone here that can shed some light on the question.”

    @ty, Again from my understanding, there are importation of LVS casual goods, and LVS Commercial Goods. If your casual or commercial goods are valued below $1600 you (the importer) are still able to “Account” for these goods yourself. You’ll notice I said “Account” and not “self-clear”.

    As I have mentioned earlier in my posts, there seem to be some confusion between the 2 process amongst people wishing to Account for their goods at their local CBSA office, as opposed to clearing their goods which takes place at the port of entry. After about a month of reading the D memorandum’s on the CBSA site as well as the recent revisions, they often refer to the final process as Reporting and Accounting, not self-clear.

    The excerpts below are taken from the CBSA website:

    Low Value Commercial Goods

    21. Memorandum D17-1-2, Reporting and Accounting for Low Value Commercial Goods (under CAN$1,600) and the Consist Sheet Clearance Process, outlines the documentation requirements for the release of commercial goods valued at less than CAN$1,600.

    and

    Legislation

    Importers who want to obtain release of commercial goods must account for them as described in sections 32 and 33 of the Customs Act.

    and

    The person or entity who causes the goods to be imported and is responsible for accounting for the goods and paying applicable duties and taxes.

    As you can see there is no mention of “Self-clear” in the accounting process.

    Check out the Memorandum D17-1-4, This was originally dated Sept.19, 2008, but was revised on May 10, 2012. I think you will find the answers your looking for.

    Again from my understanding of reading multiple post from multiple blogs and websites on the issue of not paying outrageous brokerage fees, most people say “I called the courier and told them I want to SELF CLEAR or CLEAR OWN and they told me I had to go the to port of entry…. where else would one expect to clear their goods other than the border or point of entry?

    Just tell the couriers (and I would only do this after the shipment has cleared the border and is en route to their bonded warehouse) that you are “Accounting” for your own goods. I can’t see them telling you that you need to go to the border to do that as no accounting is done there unless of course you are crossing the border with goods in hand, then you must pay all duties and taxes before you can bring the items into Canada.

    Hope this helps Ty! Keep us posted.

    I am still awaiting to hear back from the couriers myself, regarding my own LVS casual goods shipment, that the shipper/seller has marked the goods to read: “Importer to “Account” for goods”. As of yet the shipment has not made it to the border, so I will post an update as well after my experience is complete.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  55. Ty
    July 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm | #107

    Good info Andy.

    We’re going to test this commercially with two shipments. On one shipment, we’re going to notify them of our intent to account for duty and taxes. On the second shipment, we’re going to ignore them when they call.

    What we’re trying to find out here, is if they’ll move the packages to the inland distribution hub in our city under bond in each situation.

    This would of course, need to be tested for people located in a city that does not have a distribution hub. This applies only to commercial LVS shipments. I know it theoretically shouldn’t matter where you are when you account for duty and taxes, but this will get us a few steps closer to understanding how the process works in reality.

  56. July 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm | #108

    Andy, Ty, thanks for the updates. Looking forward to finding out what happens.

  57. Ty
    July 24, 2012 at 11:05 am | #109

    Both worked fine for our commercial shipments.

  58. Andy
    July 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm | #110

    Awesome to hear that Ty. My shipment should be in tomorrow as well, as of yet I haven’t had a call from the courier company, like I mentioned the shipper wrote that “Importer will Account for Goods” so that may be the trick.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  59. Andy
    July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm | #111

    @doesitblog, Well as promised here is my update on my LVS shipment. Yesterday morning I was curious as to how far along my shipment was and when FedEx was going to phone me regarding the comment the shipper had put on the commercial invoice instructing that “Importer to Account for Goods” So when I went to FedEx’s website to track my shipment, it was in their Ohio hub enroute from Calif. The site said that estimated delivery would be July 25 (today) and that the shipment was on schedule for delivery today. So I phoned FedEx and asked them if they wouldn’t mind faxing me a copy of the commercial invoice but not mentioning why or what I needed it for. They said “sure no problems you should receive that shortly”, that call was made around 10am yesterday. By 2pm I had still yet to receive the commercial invoice so I called them again requesting the CI for the second time and they said “Oh you didn’t get that already” to which I replied “No, and the fax machine is right beside my desk”, again they told me that I would receive it shortly and reconfirmed my fax #.
    Well by 5pm I had still to receive a copy from them, so I called them for the 3rd time and made the request again. This time they informed me that the CI for FedEx ground shipments is not available as it travels with the shipment and they don’t have any way of sending me a copy of it, unless they were to physically remove it from the package fax me a copy and then place it back with my shipment before it could continue delivery. I told them they should have made me aware of that info the first time I called. Their response was that the agents I spoke to at FedEx should have known that…. I told them not to worry about it and thanked them for their time. All along I didn’t really need a copy from them as I had the seller email me a copy of it before my shipment left CA. I just wanted to see if FedEx would comply with my request, which they obviously didn’t. Also last night before I went to bed I tracked my goods again and seen that they were at the Cambridge, ON FedEx facility, I knew this was the last hub before delivering the goods, so I printed a copy of the info showing the 4 tracking numbers of my shipment.

    This morning when I woke up and tracked the shipment before leaving the house to run some errands, the status was “out for delivery”. I informed my daughter that if FedEx was to show up, NOT sign for anything and tell them your father was not home and to re-deliver again tomorrow when he would be home. In the meantime I had with me a copy of the CI that the seller/shipper had sent me, the tracking info that I had printed last night stating that the goods were at the Cambridge facility, as well as a copy of the Memorandum D17-4-0.

    I was now off to the CBSA office located at the Kitchener Airport to attempt to account for my goods and hopefully get the B15 form. The Kitchener Airport is about 20 mins from where I live, well I wasn’t even gone 10 mins from home when my daughter called me on my cell and said that FedEx had just left the house and had left my 4 packages there, the driver told her that no signature was required so she could leave the packages with my daughter. Of course my daughter was somewhat confused and said ok leave them here but my dad had said to re-deliver them tomorrow. The driver told her I`m here now and nothing else is needed for this shipment. I told my daughter not to worry about it and continued on my way to the Airport. I got there, paid $3.00 parking for 1 hour and headed to the CBSA office. There were 2 others there sitting down and 1 other person at the wicket. When the person at the wicket left the CBSA agent said `yes Sir, can I help you, I immediately pointed to the 2 sitting down and said that they were here before me. The agent said that they were already being assisted by other agents. So I stepped up to the wicket and told her I was here to account for my goods that were shipping to me from the USA. She asked me for my paper work (all I handed her was the CI and the the printout with the 4 tracking numbers on it, no cargo manifest, and no Unique Shipment Identification Number, and no ID as I had forgotten my wallet in the car), She also asked where the goods were being held and I told her when I had last checked they were still at the FedEx facility at 42 Raglan Place in Cambridge, she said OK give me a few minutes… she went back to her desk and started filling out papers. I chatted up the 2 people sitting down and asked them how long they had been waiting, the guy said that he was there about 15 minutes already and that he was paying for taxes on an Imported vehicle. The lady sitting a few seats over from him said that she also had only been there 15 mins and that she was accounting for imported commercial goods. Before I could even ask them any more questions or take a seat, I heard from over my shoulder, OK sir everything is in order and your taxes owing are $24.10. She explained to me that because the goods were manufactured in the US there was no duties due and that I just had to pay the HST on the converted amount from US to Cdn, currency. As quick as I could hand her $24.10 she was stamping the form she had in her hands, and pushing it out through the wicket for me. I said is there anything else I need to do now, she said yes just fax the form I gave you to the FedEx brokerage dept. and they will release your goods. I walked away with the hugest smile on my face that you would have thought I had just found money…lol

    Honest to god, it took me longer to type this than it did to account for my goods. When I got back into my car and checked the time on the paid parking tag, it had taken me less than 15 minutes to get the B15 form. When I got back into my vehicle I looked over the form wondering what she used to reference as the USIN that everyone seems to have a hard time getting from the courier. The only box that I could see on the form that had any type of reference number was the FedEx tracking number on package 1 of 4. No other shipping ID # on the form.

    When I got home I phoned FedEx to ask them if there were any charges owing to them for the shipment and their reply was if the driver didn’t ask for any money that there was none owing. I said that I found that hard to believe as the shipment was over the basic exemption amount of $20. So I asked her if she wouldn’t mind connecting me with their brokerage dept. She said she could do that but they would more than likely tell me the same thing. I replied that’s OK I just wanted to make sure, and she connected me to FedEx Trade Network. When the FTN agent came on the phone I gave her my tracking number and told her I had a shipment left at my house with no bill for taxes. Her reply was Oh maybe you got lucky and you didn’t get assessed for taxes…. (my ass) I told her I would like to hold while she was sure of this. After about 5 mins she came back on the phone and said your correct Mr. xxxxxxxx, there are taxes owing but not to worry as they would be sending me a bill for that. As long as I have received my goods in satisfactory condition I didn’t need to worry about anything else until the bill arrives. I said that I would like to pay for the bill now if possible, she said that all the paper work was not complete at this time and it would be easier if they just mailed me the bill… (my ass again) I asked how could you not have that calculated already if you have the commercial invoice there you must know what I owe?
    She said OK you will have to give me a few more minutes, I said I can wait….. must have been 10 more mins, and when she came back on the phone, the first thing she said is are you still there Mr. xxxxxxx? I replied, where else would I be? she said I was afraid that I had taken to long and that you may have hung up? I said no chance of that happening, and then getting a bill in a few weeks asking for my first born… she said your first what? I said no worries, how much is the bill going to be for? She said well it will be for the taxes that are still owing on the shipment, I said I know that, I’m just curious as to what other charges or fees will show up on the bill, she said the taxes owing are $24.10… I said OK and…. then she said I had to hold again for a minute… 3 more minutes go by and she comes back on the phone and has the nerve to ask me if there was anything else she could help me with… I kept my cool and said yes the remaining charges please… she then said I was lucky the goods were manufactured in the US as there would be no duties on my order, I said Oh wow lucky me…. she said there would be a small fee of $5.85 and the brokerage fee for taking care of all the paperwork required by the government and clearing the package through customs on my behalf… so again I asked her “and the brokerage fee is”??? she said the brokerage is calculated on the value of the shipment and that was an additional $28.50, so everything would cost less that $60.00. Would that be all today Mr. xxxxxxx? This next question is what I think took her of her chair, I said just one more thing, can I please have the fax # to your brokerage dept? she immediately replied “What do you need that for? I said I need it to fax you the B15 form I am holding in my hands. She said “you mean to tell me you have wasted all my time asking me all your questions just to tell me you have already paid the taxes? I replied “Yes, and it took you longer to give me the info that I’m sure you had sitting in front of you all along after I provided you the tracking #, than it took the CBSA agent to complete all those forms you mentioned and issue me the B15 form. She said well Mr. xxxxxxx, you have yourself a wonderful day, I said I will have a wonderful day right after you provide me with the fax # …… Hello?….Hello?…… Hellllllloooooooo? I was shocked, she had hung up on me! ….. lmao

    I think I will call back now and just ask for the fax#.

    doesitblog, I am so sorry for writing a small novel, and would not be offended if you felt that you needed to edit it.

    On a last note though, I would seriously suggest that if you went through your updated post and subbed out the term “clear” or “self-clear” with “Account” I don’t think the process would be confusing then, to either the CBSA agent or the courier company. Even on the top of my B15 form is says “Casual Goods Accounting Document” and not clearing document, so we may as well call the process by what it is.

    Cheers,
    Andy

    • July 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm | #112

      Andy, thank you for going into so much detail regarding your efforts! I have updated the main post to direct people to read your comments regarding the difference between “self-clearing” and “accounting”.

    • Sam
      November 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm | #113

      Hey andy, I had bought some stuff from my friend in the states and it was shipped via fedex. I got the shipment but i wasn’t home when it was delivered so they just left it on my front porch. About 3 weeks later I get a letter from FTN saying i owe them 100 odd dollars (the price of the goods were $422). Should I just take the invoice to CBSA and pay the taxes there?

  60. Ty
    July 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm | #114

    Andy,

    There’s really no reason to get nasty with the people on the phone. I get the impression you enjoyed rubbing things in the lady’s face when you spoke to her. That’s not the appropriate way to handle things with anybody, and it won’t get the COD tags pulled on your package any sooner. In fact, it could end you up with a collection notice from them if they decide to make your life difficult or just put you on a black list.

    I would encourage people that are doing their own accounting to be respectful of the people they speak with on the phone. That includes CBSA, FedEx and UPS. They’re simply doing what their supervisors instruct them to do. No matter how smart you think you are with this self-clearing stuff, they deserve your respect and patience while you educate them, as what we’re doing is a little out of their normal procedures.

    Just today I had to work with a CBSA officer educating her on the proper package tags as opposed to the tracking numbers. The more we work with these people, the more they’re happy to help us when our ducks aren’t in a row. All these freight forwarders have to do to screw people is to mark their account and not clear the packages at the border. They do keep records on people, and your game can end really fast if they wish to make your life difficult.

    The process between clearing and accounting is a very real issue for most people trying to do this. Your package must clear customs before you can pay the taxes. This includes inspections, and this is the golden ticket to Wonka’s chocolate factory. UPS and FedEx are 100% that you cannot clear a package coming through a port when you’re not present (although they can order a transfer to a local warehouse, they typically won’t unless you’re a big corporate entity). CBSA needs the ability to inspect those packages and normally does so for your first few imports (making sure you’re not a Pablo Escobar kinda guy). Freight carriers do this through bond, using inland shipments to move packages wherever they need. The trailer is sealed at the border provided there’s nothing they want to check out, and the truck pulls away to the nearest inland warehouse. Packages typically continue to move in bond, unless they want to screw you around (and they do this regularly if you don’t heed the above warning).

    Your freight carrier has cleared your package for you at this point, meaning they got it into the country. Pretty nice of them not to make you come down to the port of entry, but they’ll charge you to do the brokering (accounting). This is where most people mess the process up.

    All you have to do is allow the carrier to clear your package through customs, and then pay the taxes on the package. Have your packages sent in COD and call the brokerage department for the appropriate forms. Once the parcel has cleared customs, meaning it’s in the country and has been released for an in-bond transfer, you can go to your customs office.

    In review:
    1. Dont be a punk.
    2. Ensure your package flagged brokerage cod.*
    3. Get your documents.
    4. Wait until the package clears customs.
    5. Go to customs and get your pretty stamped B3.
    6. Play nice with the brokerage department. Have them pull your COD tag.
    7. Enjoy your package… errr Box… Oh dear.

    *dont write crap on the box..

  61. Andy
    July 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm | #115

    doesitblog, thank you for starting this blog over 2 years ago, and continually following up and updating it through the years. My hats off to you for trying to help so many people avoid outrageous brokerage charges over the years. I know I couldn’t have done it. Its one thing to post a few comments over the past 30 days for me, but to be involved as you makes for a real challenge.
    I came across your blog on an internet search for brokerage charges, all I was trying to do was figure how much I “had” to pay the courier for brokerage fees and which one was the best to use, and not how to avoid the brokerage charges all together. So of course your blog sparked my curiosity to click and read on, and read on I did. I read the whole blog from top to bottom and all the links and revisions as well. Then like a sponge I read 2 other similar web posts in their entirety as well. I was now amazed at the fact that there really might be a way to avoid these brokerage charges all together, and not just trying to find out who was the cheapest. I then spent the better part of a day at the CBSA website reading their memorandums on importing and specifically the LVS shipment guidelines and procedures. The only thing after reading that much and almost giving myself a migraine, was the final process known as Accounting for goods, So I’d go back and read various peoples post and seen that most were having problems clearing or self-clearing their shipments, with both the couriers and the CBSA. So back to the CBSA site I’d go and see where the problem is in clearing your own goods. Really the picture wasn’t totally clear until I called the CBSA and ended up speaking to someone that was very knowledgeable in the process. Of course at that time my question to him is why are people having such a problem in clearing their own goods at their local CBSA office, and that’s when he explained to me that clearing takes place at the point of entry and anyone wishing to clear their own have the right to do so, but accounting for the goods takes place at their local CBSA office, and they also have the right to do that as well. Pow it clicked…. All along people have wanted to account for their goods, but have been asking to clear their goods, and they are being told to go to the border…. I know its a technicality but then again I still believed Pluto was is a planet!!!!

    doesitblog thanks for starting the fire for me! :)

    Cheers,
    Andy

    ps. I did call back and get a different agent at FTN and I asked them their brokerage fax#, had it in 10 seconds. lol

  62. July 25, 2012 at 8:28 pm | #116

    I am thinking of buying a piece of musical equipment (used) from the USA on E-bay valued at $900. I reside in Toronto, Canada. Aside for the $35. shipping fee (from Arizona), what other fees and charges will likely be added at the border? Should the total go above $1150., it will no longer be a good value… Thanks for any feedback. Best, Rob

    • July 25, 2012 at 8:39 pm | #117

      @Rob – At a minimum you will pay HST + brokerage. Depending on the country of manufacture, you could also pay duties. Considering that $900 + 13% + $35 = $1052, you’re not saving very much. If you can get the same thing locally for $1150, I think you should do it.

      Let’s not forget that musical instruments can be highly variable even within the same brand and model, so I think it is worth paying a little more to get it locally since you have a chance to test it and don’t have any risk of shipping damage.

  63. Andy
    July 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm | #118

    Ty,
    Had you been listening in on the call I made to FTN, I was anything but rude to the lady I spoke to(she was a broker with FTN, not a receptionist). I didn’t tell her she was giving me the royal run a round even though she was. If you had heard the tone in her voice and evasiveness to just give me the factual cost, rather than trying to make me believe I had just won a door prize and tried selling me on the idea that I was lucky as they may have made a mistake and nothing may be due, not even the HST to your right Mr. xxxxxx, you do owe taxes and some other “small fees”…. to it’s just under $60.00. Come on Ty, cut me some slack here, being a CEO of a major office supply chain for the last 15 years before retiring. I learned how to talk to others and respect their opinions. Also being an actor since the age of 12 and starring in various TV roles, I also know how someone can read the same line twice with different vocal notations and have 2 different interpretations, and yet still be different than the author intended it to be. Like I said Ty if you had heard the tone in her voice and mine, you would be asking to talk to her supervisor.

    Do remember now Ty, I had called FedEx 3 times requesting the CI, and this was noted and associated with my 4 tracking numbers, do you not think for a minute that when she pulled up my shipment initially she didn’t see the 3 requests for the CI??? I may have been able to ask the agents for this for no apparent reason, but do you not think a broker would know why I wanted the CI in advance of my shipment?? You try and show me a broker that says you don’t need a broker, and I’ll try to show you a lawyer that says you don’t need a lawyer, I’m sure we’ll both stalemate on this one.

    I was just trying to help out doesitblog with useful and factual information for his blog as well as my own knowledge, and not to offend or demean anyone.

    Cheers,
    Andy

    • Ty
      July 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm | #119

      Fair enough. Just pointing it out for others that may have come in early and assumed the cheeky writing for real life. She may not have seen the requests or may not have cared. Either way, it sounds like you got your package through so we’ve got some more information for everyone. :) I’ve noted my process in the reply above and it seems to be the fail safe way of dealing with these guys.

  64. Andy
    July 26, 2012 at 11:49 am | #120

    @ty, Yes I did read your process, and it also is nicely laid out, although the B3 form if I’m not mistaken only applies to commercial shipments, I do remember reading about B3 forms but amongst all the info I have read in the last 30 days or so I can’t be 100% sure unless I reread the CBSA Memorandum’s, or you can clarify this already having done the B3 process yourself. I am also glad that you tested this for commercial shipments as I did for casual shipments. I think between the 2 processes we really covered all the angles and have shed some light on really how simple the process can be.

    Importers must remember; if the ask to clear their own goods be prepared to hear “You have to go to the border or point of entry to “clear” your goods; if they specify “Account” they are asking to pay any duties and taxes due. I’m sure to some degree that all along some agents may have known what the customer may have really meant to do, but was asking for the wrong process.

    Oh and one other thing Ty, last night as I was gathering up all my CBSA printouts, notes and related materials to place in a folder and put away till I needed to reference them again, the last document I came across was my CI for my shipment, I laughed to myself as I went to put that away in the folder. I say you may be right that the broker from FTN may have not seen my 3 requests to have them fax me their copy of the CI, but I can bet almost 100%, that when I asked her to pull up my CI to see how much I would have owed them, across the middle of the CI was “Importer to Account for Goods” that I had asked the seller/shipper to put on the paperwork. This alone I’m sure is what made the broker handle my call differently and treat me as somewhat of an irate customer. I agree with you that it may be better for now not to mention the Accounting to the courier unless the shipment has already cleared the border. But then again my shipment still continued to move along in-bond to their warehouse in Cambridge. I’m sure if I was uninformed and had the shipper write “Clear-Own” on my CI, I would have gotten a call from FedEx telling me that I had to go to the border as per the instructions on the CI.

    I personally don’t think we should have to hide our intentions to Account for our goods from the couriers until the shipment is in our couriers local warehouse , after all it is our “legal” right to account for our goods as per the CBSA LVS casual and commercial goods guidelines.

    Simply put I don’t think it’s “crap” as you mentioned Ty, to have your intentions written on the box or CI as were are asking for a procedure that is law to take place.

    I truly hope that the clarification in Ty’s and my findings helps ALL Canadians that wish to avoid outrageous brokerage fees on their LVS shipments and “legally” Account for their own goods, the knowledge and information to do so, regardless of the courier company used to transport their goods in Canada.

    But please remember fellow Canadians, if you sign for the goods from the courier before accounting for them yourself, you have also signed away your rights to do so, and they have your signature to prove that you agreed with their terms and conditions.

    Kinda of reminds me of an old business saying: “What the large print giveth, the fine print taketh away”

    Cheers,
    Andy

    • July 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm | #121

      What is the difference between the Commerical Invoice and the regular Bill of Sale?

  65. Ty
    July 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm | #122

    The reason you don’t want to specify “self clear” on your packages is that they can potentially screw you at the border. UPS and FedEx do not have internal codes for self-accounting, so writing that on the box you run the high risk they’ll mark it CLEARSOWN internally. This means the package DOES come off the truck, and it DOES get held at the port of entry. Bad news bears.

    You want to let the package flow to your local warehouse. Be Johnny on the spot with tracking your package, and when you see it local, call up and tell them you need the commercial invoice and the CC document. Pay your taxes at CBSA and then go get your package from the warehouse. Good news bears.

  66. Andy
    July 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm | #123

    Ty, I agree in your statement that you definably “DON’T” want your package marked “Self Clear” as your package WILL be pulled off the truck and left at the border for you to “self clear” and even customs knows what self clear means.

    Now at the same time I disagree that if you have your shipment marked “Importer to Account for Goods” as I did, that WON’T cause any confusion at the border, because accounting via courier does not take place at the border, and anyone at the border especially a customs agent would know that as well. My shipment wasn’t held at the border, yet it was marked for me to account for it, so why would they hold anyone’s shipment that wanted to Account for it themselves? The only time they would hold it is if the importer wanted to account for it and thought that accounting was clearing and had it marked as such.

    Secondly why even bother contacting the courier for the CI? Again FedEx didn’t supply me mine even after 3 failed attempts over the course of an 8 hour day, and by law they are required to.

    It is much easier to obtain the CI from the seller/shipper, if you are dealing directly with them or in my case even indirectly. The CI is not created or written by the couriers but rather the shipper. I placed my order through an online company selling filters, they advised me that they couldn’t supply me with the CI but only a bill of sale as the filters would be shipping directly from the manufacturer warehouse and not them (otherwise known as a drop-shipment).
    So then I kindly asked the seller if they could provide instructions on their purchase order to the manufacturer for my drop-shipments CI to include “Importer to Account for Goods” and gave them my email address to provide to the manufacturer. When my order shipped from someone that I hadn’t even conducted business with or even spoke to directly, I received an email from the manufacturer the day my shipment left their facility with a copy of my CI as an attachment.
    They obviously had no concerns sending me the CI, they technically had nothing to lose in doing this, whereas the courier knows if they send you the CI, they may be possibly losing out on the brokerage fees. (that’s the game they play). Asking the seller to me sounds much simpler that wasting half you day or possibly a dozen calls trying to get the CI from the courier.

    When I was in the office supply business as stated in a previous post, when we had Int’l shipments to the USA from Canada, the labelope (the big plastic zip-lock bag on your shipment) had to contain 3 copies of the CI. One copy would be kept by the couriers, to hopefully act as your broker, one by the governing tax collector for the US (in our case its the CBSA for Canadian in-bound shipments) and the final copy the importer would get with his shipment.

    The copy of the Invoice I received from the company I bought the filters from had me as the sold to person. The copy of the CI I received from the manufacturer had the filter reseller as the sold to person and had me as the ship to person. All straight forward and self-explanatory even for the CBSA agent that processed my B15.

    I will be needing to order some more items again from the US next week. (different items and different supplier) I am going to do everything the same way as I did before, with one exception, I am not even going to bother giving myself the headache of phoning the couriers and requesting the CI, just to listen to their reasons or excuses as to why they can’t supply it. The only time the courier will get a call from me is to get the phone # for the brokerage dept in case its not FedEx delivering the goods. Actually now that I know what I know I kinda wish they ship it via UPS, the most expensive brokerage fees, and then I will know it works with at least 2 of the major LVS couriers.

    Cheers,
    Andy

    ….man I got to stop writing small novels here, I will cause doesitblog to have to purchase more bandwidth or web space …… :)

  67. Andy
    July 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm | #124

    doesitblog asked: “What is the difference between the Commercial Invoice and the regular Bill of Sale?”

    A bill of sale does not require as much information as a CI does, Also a bill of sale may or may not have all the required info on it or may simply be in the form of a receipt.

    Whereas the CI is essentially a bill (i.e. invoice) from the seller (the exporter) to the buyer (the importer) describing the parties to the agreement, the goods to be sold, the place of manufacture or origin and the terms involved, as agreed between the exporter and importer. The CI is the final bill exchanged between the seller and the buyer and will normally be presented on the exporter’s letterhead and will be addressed to the importer. It should contain full details of the consignment, including price and other related costs, in order to facilitate customs clearance. It must also be signed and dated. Freight and insurance, when included in the selling price, should be itemized separately as these charges are not subject to duty in certain countries. It is important that the CI clearly differentiates between the dutiable component of the order (the market value of the order), any other typically non-dutiable charges such as freight and insurance, and the total invoice value of the order.

    The CI is used by Customs authorities throughout the world for assessing Customs duties, inspection purposes, and for the keeping of statistics. If there is specific information required to appear on the CI by the Customs’ authorities in the importing country, the importer should advise the exporter of this.

    Hope this clarifies your question.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  68. July 31, 2012 at 8:24 am | #125

    If I could ask another opinion… I am now looking at a deal on a keyboard that would be shipped from Japan. According to the seller, I would not have to pay brokerage fees and if I am not mistaken, I believe goods coming from Japan are exempt from duty? In any case, it seemed the shipping was reasonable at about $100. to Toronto. Would that make sense knowing this particular keyboard is about 12 lbs in weigh and fairly slim so it may be less than 25 lbs in the box. Thank you for your time. Best, Rob

    • July 31, 2012 at 8:39 am | #126

      @Rob – I am suspricious here. I am NOT sure if Japan is duty-free for Canadians, but it is definitely not part of NAFTA. Unless this guy is experienced in these transactions, I would be careful. Things like “no duty” or “I’ll pay the duties” is something that scammers say to make you bite.

  69. July 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm | #127

    Thank you. I appreciate your insight. I think you’re right, best to stick to local purchases but not always finding the products here…

  70. IEE
    August 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm | #128

    Hi, I am planning to buy a pair of heels at the value of 160 plus shipping and the seller uses DHL and so I’m wondering how much would custom cost or if there’s going to be any hidden fees? But the seller also stated that I can get the package shipped through USUP and the local post (which is Canada Post, I’m guessing) but with no tracking…. And I’m wondering if items get lost frequently? Also I’m just wondering would this be cheaper compared to DHL? What would you recommend? Sorry for asking but this is going to be my first time buying online so I’m kind of nervous. Thanks in advance and for reading this!

    • August 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm | #129

      @IEE – I assume this is coming from the US. You will pay sales taxes and about $7 brokerage from DHL. (Sorry, it’s hard to get exact brokerage costs from DHL.) If the shoes are made outside of North America, you may get dinged 17.5% duty as well. It’s not worth it going on USPS for something of this value because you would get charged $8.50 brokerage from Canada Post anyway.

  71. Andy
    August 27, 2012 at 11:13 am | #130

    @doesitblog – Just wanted to give you another quick update on another LVS casual good shipment I received last week. On this shipment I didn’t even bother asking the couriers (UPS this time) for the CI, I just requested it from the seller/shipper and had it emailed to me the same day my shipment was picked up by UPS from the USA. Again I went to the CBSA office located at the Kitchener Airport (these CBSA agents are awesome to deal with) ended up with the same agent as my first visit there. She said “Ah your back again for another B15 form”? I just smiled and said “Your office is much easier to deal with than listening to lies and misinformation from the couriers” The agent just smiled and said “I’m glad to hear that”. Took my CI which had the tracking # on it, I also handed her a printout of the tracking info from UPS, she came back to the wicket asked me for $84.50 for the HST owing and I had the B15 form again in under 15 minutes. Phoned UPS when I got home, listened to a few lies, which is par for the course by now, got them to connect me with their brokerage Dept, Listened to a few more lies, and managed to get their fax number. Faxed them the B15, phoned them the following day to make sure that they had received the B15 form and to make sure that they had lifted the COD tag on my shipment. 2 Days later the UPS truck pulls into my driveway gives me my shipment with no COD tag attached.

    So there you have it, 2 different couriers but both with the same end result
    “NO OUTRAGEOUS BROKERAGE FEES CHARGED”

    So doesitblog, save yourself the gas money next time from driving to the US to pick up your next parcel from your favorite warehouse and also eliminate the traveling time and any other incurred expenses (ie..PO Box Rentals, Border Crossing Fees x2, Wait time at the Border, and of course meal expense) and just ask the seller to email or fax you the CI and Account for your own goods in your own city.

    Cheers,
    Andy

    • August 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm | #131

      Andy, thanks for all your great comments and info!

      • Andy
        September 4, 2012 at 10:41 am | #132

        Your welcome :)
        It’s been my pleasure providing info to your blog as I uncovered it from reading the CBSA Memorandums, reading
        other peoples problems when dealing with couriers as well as from my own experience with my 2 shipments.

        I also want to thank you, for providing people like myself a forum in which we could all share our experiences.

        Your site is one of the few sites, where the original poster (you) has kept up with answering and helping out peoples concerns and inquiries even 2 1/2 years after your initial post and most of your responses to peoples questions are generally the same day, yet you still manage to find the time to continually update it as new information becomes available to you.

        After all, if it wasn’t for your blog sparking my interest about couriers charging outrageous brokerage fees, I too my have been held hostage in paying these ridiculous over-priced fees.

        Stay Clear of the word “CLEAR”
        As long as people remember to ask to “Account” for their own goods and NOT ask to “Clear” or “Clear Own” there should be a lot less problems and confusion.

        Keep up the good work in spreading the news and helping us fellow Canadians.

        Cheers,
        Andy

  72. September 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm | #133

    Hi, Thanks for taking time to give such valuable information. This is my story. I ordered some items from gojane.com and the total cost of the items and shipping was about $250. Gojane.com runs from the United States and I am in Canada. Canada post is with my parcel and i am being asked to pay $87 customs fees. What do you suggest I do?

    • September 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm | #134

      @Atinuke – You need to find the breakdown of what the $87 is for. I am guessing you bought clothes or shoes, so it could largely be for taxes and duties. (Canada post only charges $8.50 for brokerage.) You cannot get out of taxes and duties, therefore you either have to pay it or reject the package. If you want to get out of the $8.50 brokerage or find that it was for a larger amount, check over comment #2 above from LVSFree on how to self-account for packages and avoid the brokerage fee.

      • September 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm | #135

        Okay. I would find out and yes they were mostly shoes. Thanks :)

  73. September 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm | #136

    That seems utterly absurd! It appears Customs is adding something like 30% percent to the cost! That represents taxes and Duties??? Yikes! What a bunch of crud and so much for a user friendly free trade agreement…lol. Just stick it to the consumer every time we try to save a little money… :(

    • Andy
      September 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm | #137

      Yes that does sound absurd.
      My guess would be that even though Atinuke bought the shoes from a US company, they were more than likely not manufactured in the US or in North America for that fact. The Free Trade Agreement only applies to goods made in North America. I think what upsets me the most is that Americans can import goods valued up to $200.00 before they get dinged for taxes and such, whereas us Canadians the value is $20.00. Now that to me is what’s totally absurd. jmho

      Cheers,
      Andy

  74. Jan o.
    September 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm | #138

    Hi, would any of you know how to deal with custom/brokerage fees when it comes to exchanges. We bought a rug from a US online store and paid customs when the rug was delivered (btw, the shipping was free). It turns out that the store made a mistake and sent us not the right rug, so now we have to send it back and they will re-ship the right item. My question is, are we going to pay customs/brokerage fees again? Also, can we ask for a refund of the $115 we have alredy paid since we ended up returning the product? I will appreciate your advice.

    • September 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm | #139

      @Jan, you can get the taxes/duties back on a returned item by filing a form B2G with the CBSA. (The link is in my article.) If it was shipped through Canada Post, you can also get the brokerage back in this transaction. Otherwise you cannot get the brokerage back.

      For the new shipment, you will pay taxes/duties and brokerage again. If it’s being shipped through a courier, you could avoid the brokerage using the “Self Accounting” method described by Andy in posts 96-110. You cannot avoid the taxes/duties.

  75. jackie
    October 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm | #140

    i ordered something on ebay Lots 24pcs 2-3cm Pokemon mini random Pearl ct Figures cost me $5.00 coming from hong kong to canada how much extra am i looking at paying since it says on the page International Buyers – Please Note that Import duties, taxes and charges are not included in the item price or shipping charges. These charges are the buyer’s responsibility.Please check with your country’s customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to bidding/buying.

    • October 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm | #141

      @ jackie – Are you sure this is a genuine product? If it is a “replica” then it might be confiscated at the border due to copyright, etc. Your question about what you will pay is answered in my original blog post.

  76. Jonathan
    October 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm | #142

    Hi there I was sent a gift from the UK worth 100 Pounds sterling. so about $160. It was bought in the UK and taxes at 17.5% were paid there, Do you know why I was charged taxes here as well? It’s stupid that I have to pay double tax on this item, and to pay the extra charges as well (via FedEx). Thanks for your website.. it is very informative

    • October 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm | #143

      @ Jonathan unfortunately it is true that you will still pay sales taxes and duty at the border on gift items above a certain value. There’s no lawful way to get around it. You have to pay because that’s what the law is.

      If you haven’t already accepted the package, you might be able to get out of the Fedex brokerage charges by using the LVS method linked in my original post.

  77. Michelle
    October 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm | #144

    I am planning on ordering some costumes for Halloween on a Chinese based company, LightintheBox. My item is $73 and the shipping is $11.50 in total. I have a coupon that takes $7.10 off. So the total is $77.40. How much would be my duty fees? (sorry, I’m really confused by all)

    • October 21, 2012 at 1:54 am | #145

      @Michelle shipping has no effect on the calculation. You will be taxed based on the total cost of the goods, which will be $65.90. The amounts you pay fall into 3 categories:
      1. Taxes – calculated as described in my article
      2. Duties – wouldn’t expect any duties on a low value shipment like this. It’s not worth their time to get into it.
      3. Brokerage – depends on which shipping company is used

  78. Sancerre
    November 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm | #146

    OK. Forgive the dumb foreigner :-) but – I’ve just ordered 2 books as a gift for a friend in Canada. One is coming from a seller on amazon.ca, the other from a UK shop. Neither is more than CAD 10, including postage. Have I just ended up making my friend pay for something that was supposed to be a gift?

    Sorry but this is absolutely the first time I’ve heard of this. Thank you…

    Yours,
    Dim of the EU

    • November 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm | #147

      @Sancerre, because both items are worth under $20, there is nothing to worry about. No extra payment.

  79. November 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm | #148

    Hi, this is a great blog post and the comments are extremely helpful. I have a question, I am moving back to Canada from the US. I am a Canadian citizen that has been away for 12 years. I read on cbsa that I need to declare my intent to move back at my first port of entry using form B4 E and the goods to follow form B4A. My question is that I am shipping my goods 22 boxes via USPS and I am not sure if I will be at my new home by the time they arrive. I have a 2.5 wk delay between when I ship and when I arrive. I am planning on shipping them to my grandmothers house but was also wondering if I could have them held at the local post office so I can pick them up. If I ship to my grandmothers house I will have to give her $, which is fine, to pay the fees but then I guess I have to submit the forms for reassessment with my approved b4 forms. The b4 forms allow me to import duty free my personal goods. If i have them held for pick up at the post office, i can preesent my b4 forms and not pay duty but only whatever else they want to charge. I hope this makes sense and any advice or guidance anyone could offer would be greatl appreciated.

    • November 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm | #149

      I have really not dealt with the international relocation issue myself. If it is 22 boxes, I wonder if a place like a local post office would even have space to store something like that until you arrive. I think it makes sense to send the items to a family member’s house; You could also try something like a UPS store, Mail Boxes Etc, etc to arrange this receiving service,

  80. November 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm | #150

    Thanks for your quick reply and suggestion about e mail service places. I am shipping tomorrow so will also find out from the post office more. I’ll post information once I get it as others may find it useful on your already very useful posts and comments. Thanks!

  81. Syl
    November 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm | #151

    I just bought a purse for my mom who lives in Canada. I am in Chicago and am planning to send it via Fedex ground. Should i be worried about being slapped with taxes or duties?

  82. Syl
    November 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm | #152

    The purse is a gift to my mom and i have identified it as such on the Fedex shipment label. There is a box in the label online section that tells me that there will be no duties or taxes on my package. But when i printed out the label it also printed out 3 copies of an International Ground One-time General Agency Agreement (GAA) forms that i am supposed to sign and include with my package. It states that by doing so i will “become the non-resident importer(NRI) on your FedEx Ground shipment to Canada. A NRI is responsible for payment of all duties, taxes, clearance entry and ancillary fees for their FedEx Ground shipments to Canada.”

    Not sure if i should use another method – international priority perhaps – to ship my package. Any advice anyone?

    • November 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm | #153

      Gifts valued at over $60 are subject to duties and taxes, but you had better make sure you include some kind of greeting card or similar in it, otherwise they will not consider it to be a gift and use the $20 limit. If the value is over the limit, then yes, your mother will probably receive a bill.

      I am really not sure about this NRI form. Normally the recipient would be paying duties/taxes/etc because the value of those is only determined at the border.

      The safest thing for taxes really is just the good old USPS.

  83. Syl
    December 4, 2012 at 11:36 am | #154

    Thanks Doesitblog. So, if i use USPS, i can avoid the possibility of my mum getting a bill? If so, i will just use USPS and avoid all the hassle that comes with a courier service.

    • December 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm | #155

      If it’s over $60, she will receive a bill. But with USPS, it will be a cheaper bill.
      If it’s over $20 and is not marked as a gift and shipped with a greeting card, then she will also get a bill.

      (Note, this isn’t strictly true, as sometimes items slip thorugh randomly. But this is the exception, not the rule.)

  84. Alex Aoude
    December 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm | #156

    Thanks for all the information. I kinda understand what everyone is trying to mention in terms of why you have to pay and who you have to pay and how to avoid unexpected fees, but I still don’t understand how to know if this store will make me pay taxes/duty at the arrival of the item or not.
    Basically I’ve purchased iPhones and tablets for over 200 USD from eBay store in HongKong per item, and non of them I’ve ever had to pay anything at the door, I also recently made a purchase for 650 USD from Germany for two r/c nitro cars that I’m waiting for which I’m not expecting to pay any duty/taxes.
    The only time I was actually charged for duty/taxes was when I purchased a a laptop lcd screen for 90 USD.
    The only result I’m getting from my experience is that whatever is being shipped from the states I’m having to pay duty/taxes, but whatever is shipped from elsewhere I’m not getting charged.
    note: everything i buyfrom elsewhere is shipped to me by Canada Post, while that one time I had to pay duty/taxes for an lcd screen was shipped by UPS.
    It just gets more confusing everytime I try to get more information and non of the forums I’ve ever read was able to answer my questions, it’s making me think that I’m the only one in the word who’s having this problem, I’ve been buying of ebay and china stores for the last three years.
    regard,

    • December 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm | #157

      I am hearing a lot of stories recently of items “slipping through” and not being taxed when they should really be taxed. All of these $200 eBay items from HK and $650 Germany purchases are subject to taxation, so it sounds like you got really lucky here.

      The stores you are buying from generally do not “make” you pay taxes. It is the CBSA who charges the tax. Normally, you would not receive the shipment until you paid the tax. Sounds like you have just been really lucky.

      Realistically speaking, eBay sellers in HK know about the CBSA and they will know the “tricks” in what the CBSA looks for in the packaging in order to hopefully fly under the radar and retain repeat customers. I heard many stories of HK sellers “accidentally” declaring at the wrong amount as a matter of routine so you won’t get charged.

  85. Alex Aoude
    December 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm | #158

    Wow, now that was a shocking reply, but makes me stop wondering; as i kinda of got a habit of just buying from HK to avoid any taxes, but from what you’re saying, I should consider paying import charges on every purchase i make over 20/60 CAD.

    • December 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm | #159

      Yes, if it is over $20, be ready for the Canada Post guy to show up asking for money. But if you received the package from Canada Post with no bill, you are home free! (NOTE: Some other carriers, particularly DHL will bill you several months later!)

  86. Rick Nares
    December 18, 2012 at 1:47 am | #160

    Great site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  87. David Fraser
    December 27, 2012 at 12:22 am | #162

    I am buying some Sideburns for my Elvis shows that cost $79.99cdn and the shipping is $12.00 with Royal International Mail Signed For from the United Kingdom. Would I have to pay the Duty, Taxes Broker Fees with regular Mail Service.

    • December 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm | #163

      @David, you will pay $8.50 brokerage from Canada Post plus your province’s sales tax on 79.99. I would not expect duty.

      If you get lucky, the shipment might slide through without you having to pay anything.

  88. Elizabeth
    December 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm | #164

    I want to buy a leather jacket from the UK – I think it’s made in India (I purchased 2 previously from the US and they are made in India). They use UBX to ship from the UK, not sure if Canada post picks it up here and delivers it to me? How can I estimate how much duty I might have to pay?

    • December 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm | #165

      @Elizabeth – I have no idea how UBX shipments will make it into Canada. As a guideline, you will pay sales tax in your province plus some kind of brokerage. The brokerage can be a real killer, but I have no idea what will happen with UBX or if it will just be passed off to Canada post ($8.50 brokerage) or will require some specialized payment. I suggest you prepare yourself for the B15 process mentioned by “LVSfree” in the comments just in case the brokerage fee is outrageous.
      As for actual duty, the tax code is extremely complicated, but if I have read it correctly, Customs Tariff item 4203.10.00 states that womens’ jackets have a 13% duty.

      • Elizabeth
        December 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm | #166

        Thanks!!!

  89. Jason
    January 2, 2013 at 9:08 am | #167

    @Elizabeth – go to the Canada Border Services Agency website at:
    http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trade-commerce/tariff-tarif/2013/01-99/01-99-t2013-eng.pdf

    This is the full Tariff schedule for 2013 and look under textiles. The UK is MFN (most favoured nation) tariff and duties and taxes are placed on country of origin (where it was made) not country of export. Each country will have its own tariff treatment. Anything manufactored in the US or Mexico are exempt duties, but HST/GST is applied to everything. Brokerage fees are determined by courier companies and you should be able to get that from their website. If you have a CBSA office close to your area, you can go their to pay the duties and taxes (D&T). For personal shipments you will get a B15 and CBSA will fill out the classification for you. For commerical shipments you must present a B3 and have the right tariff classifications.

  90. Sharon
    January 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm | #168

    Hello,
    Thank you for taking the time to help everyone with their questions! I think I have my shipment figured out, but would like to confirm that what I think is actually correct, plus I have a couple of other questions.

    A hockey player in Canada would like to buy some of my markers (on eBay) for autographing jerseys. If he bought 4, the cost would be $12.57, and he wants to know what the shipping charges would be. If I were to ship via USPS First Class international, it appears that the postage would be less than $5 (weight is only around 6 ounces). I would also like to let him know of any other fees he would be responsible for, in addition to postage. Am I correct in thinking:
    1. Since the value is under $20, he will owe NO additional fees – NO taxes/duties/brokerage fees will apply? He just needs to pay me the $3-$4 in postage, and then the package will arrive at his door (eventually) with no strings attached?
    2. You recommended the website thefinalcost – however, when I put in the value of $12.57 & $5 shipping, it DOES show amounts for taxes & duties. Is this just an error on that site – perhaps they are not taking the fact of the value being less than $20 into consideration?
    3. Should I include a copy of the PayPal or eBay packing slip, which shows the amount paid?
    4. You say that Canada Post has a brokerage fee of $8.50, but when looking at http://www.canadapost.ca, it says:
    “A handling fee of $9.95CDN per dutiable or taxable mail item is applied.”
    Is that the same thing as the $8.50 fee you mention, perhaps higher for the new year?

    Again, THANK YOU so much for giving so much of your precious time to help people – most being complete strangers. Although many people probably take this for granted, the information and answers you provide is very much appreciated by some of us!

    I hope you have a VERY happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
    Sharon

    • Sharon
      January 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm | #169

      I see that where I typed in Canada Post’s website is now a link. However, that takes you to the home page. Here is the actual page that I saw the $9.95 fee listed:
      http://www.canadapost.ca/tools/pg/manual/PGcustoms-e.asp#1382719
      Thank you!
      Sharon

    • January 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm | #170

      1. Assuming USPS shipping, that’s right. (Shipping cost is irrelevant. It’s just the actual product that must be under $20.)

      2. Did you select the UPS (versus USPS) option by accident? For USPS shipping, if it is under $20 before shipping, then there will be no additional brokerage, taxes, or duties. Period.

      3. Yes definitely include the copy of the invoice in the package.

      4. WOW it looks like the handling fee went up again! It used to be $5.00 only!

      • Sharon
        January 3, 2013 at 1:17 am | #171

        Thank you for your prompt reply – I appreciate you confirming that information for me :)

        Regarding #2 – yes, I selected USPS (not UPS), so it just must be an error with that website, not taking into consideration the fact that items less than $20 won’t have tax or duty. When I enter $12 for the price & $5 for shipping, it shows an amount for “tax”, “duty” and “conversion”, but not for “brokerage”.

        That might not be the only error that calculator is making, however, because when I entered $25 as the price, just to see what it would say, it showed figures respectively higher under “tax”, “duty” and “conversion”, but for brokerage, it only shows $5.70. Maybe it wasn’t updated when price increases went into effect?

        Oh well, this is just FYI since you refer people to that site (or at least used to).

        Thank you and take care!

  91. Yan
    January 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm | #172

    Thank you so much for all the information!~
    I am planning to buy an item from London and the item costs $1400 US. The customer services rep told me at check out, with tax, shipping and handling, and duty..the price will be $1600 US. I used the The Final Cost site and it seems right. I am just wondering…if the company uses DHL…should I be worry about having the pay the brokerage when the product arrive? If so…how much would you think it might be?

    • January 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm | #173

      @Yan, for whatever reason DHL doesn’t make it easy to find their duty/tax-related information. Last I heard, they charge a disbursement fee of the greater of 2.5% of the taxes+duty or $10.00. This info is 5 years old. Maybe you should call DHL up and ask. Please also note that sometimes you might receive the DHL customs bill in the mail several month later.

  92. Yan
    January 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm | #174

    Thank you so much! I called DHL today and they said the exact same thing as what you wrote here. The Rep also said most of the charges people get with their DHL invoice are Duty and Tax.
    He also transferred me to the border service agency whom then told me the approximate Duty and Tax I would have to pay when the product gets here. I am more comfortable about placing the order now. Thanks again…

    http://cbsa.gc.ca/trade-commerce/tariff-tarif/2013/01-99/tblmod-eng.html

    You can find the duty/tariff % from the site above.

  93. Robert
    January 26, 2013 at 12:13 am | #175

    Thanks so much for all this info – very helpful!

    I have a question regarding returning a defective item to the US. It’s a ukulele, and when I imported it, I paid $60 total PST/GST/whatever else (the value of the ukulele was $350 USD, + $45USD shipping).

    My question is regarding the replacement that will be sent to me: the store is sold out of the exact model I originally bought, so it won’t be a direct replacement… They will refund me and sell me a different one instead. Of course, this means it will have a new invoice. So will I get hit paying the tax again?

    I know I could apply to get back the tax I paid the first time, but I (stupidly) didn’t think to keep the receipt for the taxes paid on delivery… I only kept my receipts for the item itself.

    Is there a way to effect this return/exchange without paying the tax twice WITHOUT my original receipt for paying the tax the first time?

    Sorry if this inquiry is confusing!

    • January 26, 2013 at 9:51 am | #176

      @Robert – I am not sure if you will be paying tax again. It depends on how they label and mark the replacement. It is possible that you will get it with no fees attached, so in that case you should consider doing nothing since you already paid taxes on the original. (Though if it is shipped by courier, you may still have to pay brokerage. That is only avoidable through the B15 process discussed above.)

      If you have to pay taxes again, you should do the form B2G process to get the taxes back on the original shipment. Because you don’t have the original taxation receipts, this could be a problem. If it was shipped by courier, you might be able to contact that courier company again to get another copy of the receipt. Also, if you paid the taxes by cheque / CC, then that will help you as well.

  94. Angela
    February 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm | #177

    Hi, I purchased a dress from Malaysia on eBay. The price from US dollars to Canadian is $19.00 plus $11.00 for shipping. I was expecting the package to be mailed (as this was how the terms of sale were posted) but the seller has informed me the package is being sent by FedEx International Priority. Will I have to pay taxes/duty when receiving the package? Also, do you know if FedEx will invoice me separately for a brokerage fee? Many thanks for allowing me to post here!

    • February 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm | #178

      @ Angela, you will not have to pay taxes / duty because the value is under $20. You might get a brokerage charge from FedEx. In my experience, the driver asks for cash or cheque at the door. You may still be able to avoid the brokerage fee using the B15 process described above.

  95. Katherine
    March 19, 2013 at 7:03 am | #179

    I order from the UK site called Asos (I’m in Canada). I’ve ordered maybe 6-7 times in the past 2 years. Only twice have I been charged duty. And STEEP charges; $45-50. But sometimes I just get the package in my mailbox, no charge whatsoever. These orders have all been over $100, been payed with the same card etc. Why have I not been consistently charged or not charged? I have no way of knowing the next time they’ll decide to charge me and it’s turning me off shopping there.

    • March 19, 2013 at 7:04 pm | #180

      @Katherine, “in theory” you should be charged duty on *all* of your purchases. The reality is that the CBSA does not catch absolutely everything and many shipments just slide through without being charged. Often times there are big backups of packages waiting for clearance, and they just do not have the manpower to fully process everything. Sounds like you have fared pretty well in the customs lottery!

  96. Kate
    March 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm | #181

    Is there a way to calculate how much potential duty charges from the UK to Canada may be? Does it go buy price of item being shipped, weight, size of parcel?

    • March 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm | #182

      @Kate, it depends on the type of item and the value. The weight / dimensions are irrelevant. Finding the actual tariff percentage is complicated. Check out reply #167 above to get a link to the 2013 Tariff schedule. It’s only 1470 pages long.

      Unless the item is worth more than a few hundred dollars, the border people probably won’t waste time assessing duties, so you would only get charged tax and brokerage. (If it’s a busy day at the border, you might win the customs lottery and your package will slide through with NO charges.)

  97. May 3, 2013 at 1:38 am | #183

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when
    new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time
    a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.

    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that
    service? Appreciate it!

    • May 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm | #184

      Lloyd, I don’t have the ability to remove subscribers. To unsubscribe, please click the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the e-mails you’ve been receiving.

  98. lucy kelly
    June 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm | #185

    I’m thinking of ordering some clothes from the aliexpress website, lulu lemon clothes to be exact and what kind of extra fees am i looking at to do this, looking to order about 500.00 worth to be shipped to newfoundland canada thank :)

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm | #186

      @Lucy, it depends on the shipping method. Minimally, you’ll pay the sales taxes in your province and probably brokerage fees. Please see the detailed explanation in my blog post for more information on how to calculate it all.

  99. July 3, 2013 at 11:14 am | #187

    Hi!
    I bought a cellphone at Amazon.Ca but it’s not sold by Amazon but another company. When it shipped it said it came from Il, US by FedEx.

    This will generate taxes, right? Will the FedEx guy ask for money at the door when the package arrived to Ontario? (If, so my sister is gonna kill me haha)

    Thanks for your help.

    • July 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm | #188

      Yes, the FedEx guy will be asking for money. You can reduce the amount payable through the B15 process listed in other comments.

      Also, once it crosses the border, you can phone up FedEx and pay them by credit card so they don’t ask for cash at the door.

      • July 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm | #189

        Thanks!

        I’ll read about it.

        This post is awesome! I was completely lost until I found it, and the calculator is amazing :)

        R.

  100. confused
    July 11, 2013 at 10:43 am | #190

    I have a question around duty and two suits I purchased from Hong Kong earlier this year.
    The arrangement made with the tailor was all shipping duties taxes were included in price (DDP).

    The first suit arrived no problem. The second suit arrived, and three months later, I got a phone call from a freight forwarder asking me to pay duties and brokerage.

    My position is the duties and taxes are not my responsibility. Not sure why they would release a shipment to a consignee if there were outstanding $$ owed.

    Freight forwarder is claiming the CBSA will come after me as the receiver and fine me. Contacted the tailor, they admit a sub agent was supposed to have paid , but didnt….

    Thoughts?

    • July 11, 2013 at 7:07 pm | #191

      @confused – I am very skeptical of this claim that duties would be paid by the shipper. They could not know the exact duties in advance, so how could they know what price to charge you? Only in a few cases like Amazon.com, TireRack, etc do they have the necessary integration to collect the duties up front. In this case, it is just an estimate and sometimes you get refunded the excess because they DON’T always know in advance. Unless the tailor actually parted this out, figured out Canadian sales tax, looked up duty classification, etc, I suspect the tailor lied to you in order to make the sale, and because you really don’t have any way to take action against them since they are in HK.

      If you already received the suits, the freight forwarder probably performed brokerage for you, and paid the fees on your behalf. Sounds like they are innocent and caught in the middle. Will the CBSA come after you? Probably not, because they were paid by the freight forwarder. (Otherwise, why would the freight forwarder be asking you to pay?) But it is up to you to decide whether it’s you or the freight forwarder that’s out the extra coin. Nothing prevents them from declining to handle any more packages for you, or trying to reclaim their costs in court.

      Sorry but it sounds like you got scammed. Unless you have some very specific breakdown of taxes and duties paid in advance, I think you need to pay up.

  101. confused
    July 12, 2013 at 8:17 am | #192

    thanks. i have a note back from the tailor advising me to pay and they will reimburse me. I’ll pay and let you know if this actually happens

    • confused
      November 22, 2013 at 7:21 am | #193

      thought I’d update you. I paid the duties owed, and pursued with the tailor. Took a bit of effort, but they did reimburse me. They were undervaluing the shipment , and making money on the $200 that covered freight and duty charged up front. The guy I dealt with told me they were changing to customer paying all freight and duty going forward, as this was a recurrent issue.

      • November 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm | #194

        @confused, thanks for letting us know! Glad it worked out!

  102. Tobi
    July 20, 2013 at 1:50 am | #195

    I ordered a necklace from UK cost of US $115. It shipped by Fedex, and shipping fee was $27. Today Fedex left a notice on my door that I have to pay $51 for duty and taxes. It seems to be super expensive. Can this be their mistake?

    • July 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm | #196

      @Tobi, it’s probably NOT a mistake. The $51 you are being hit with is taxes, brokerage and maybe some duties.
      You can’t get out of taxes and duties but you may be able to get out of brokerage. Please read the blog post above to see the details on how to get out of paying brokerage using the B15 process.

      • Tobi
        July 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm | #197

        Thanks. Fedex gave me the receipt and duties were 23.77, GST 7.13 and PST 9.98. Rod fee (I guess this is brokerage) was 10. I was a bit surprised that I had to pay almost half price of what I purchased.

      • July 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm | #198

        Welcome to Canada, where the Taxes are “yours to discover”.

  103. help
    December 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm | #199

    I made an order (of clothing and shoes) totaling around $112, imported from the US to here in Canada. The courier used was DHL, but they handed off to Canada Post at the border (who brought it to my door). This is where I am a little confused. I read the post outlining how to self-clear.

    Now, to get the unique shipment identifier number and the commercial invoice, am I to call Canada Post, or contact DHL? I’m under the impression that Canada Post is the one charging me for about $9.50 of handling fees, but I’m not sure if they’re only collecting this money for DHL. I called Canada Post asking for the commercial invoice, and gave them my tracking number – but the guy told me HE DID NOT KNOW what an invoice is, and that he didn’t have it. He also said that he didn’t know what brokerage fees were. Is he lying or is he actually clueless and I should be contacting DHL instead?

    I know where my items are being held. I just need to know how to get the documents needed to present to the CSBA. I do have the email of the receipt from the seller, but I don’t think that is a dupe for the commercial invoice. Please help!!

    • December 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm | #200

      Sorry I took so long to approve this post, I have been very busy. Firstly, if the fees are only $9.50 it’s probably not worth your time to try to get the commercial invoice, etc. Just pay Canada Post.

      It sounds like DHL handed it off to Canada Post for clearance over the border, so the $9.50 would be a combination of brokerage / taxes / duty. Therefore the duty and taxes go to the government and brokerage is kept by whomever cleared it. (You could avoid brokerage fees by getting the commercial invoice and B15.)

      If you want the commercial invoice, you should ask the shipper for it, and then go self-clear to get your B15. Though it sounds like A LOT of work to save less than $10.

      • help
        December 7, 2013 at 11:49 am | #201

        Thanks for the reply. $9.50 is for the total brokerage fees, not including tax and duties. I wanted to be sure of the process, because I have another order coming in that I’m expecting to be charged far more brokerage on. So to clarify – if I want the invoice, I should call the website that I ordered from, not DHL?

  104. December 7, 2013 at 11:58 am | #202

    help :

    Thanks for the reply. $9.50 is for the total brokerage fees, not including tax and duties. I wanted to be sure of the process, because I have another order coming in that I’m expecting to be charged far more brokerage on. So to clarify – if I want the invoice, I should call the website that I ordered from, not DHL?

    Yes, the best way to get the CI is the contact the seller. They had to prepare a CI in order to ship your order.

    I’m not sure if you’ve gone through the 200+ comments under this blog post – if you haven’t, check out the responses above from “Andy” (comments #96-#110) and you’ll get a very detailed account about his acquisition of the commercial invoice and avoidance of brokerage fees.

  105. Will
    December 12, 2013 at 2:32 am | #203

    Hi, really nice article! But I have one question on DHL. I am buying some manga (not hentai or porn kind) from Amazon.jp, and they use DHL. I wonder will several manga worth of around $45 (include shipping), get taxed? First time buying from Amazon.jp so…If so I am not sure about how much I will need to pay?

    • Will
      December 12, 2013 at 2:54 am | #204

      Opps, forgot to ask one more question. I heard GIFT wrapping can prevent from duty and taxes (from Amazon.Jp), is this true?

      • December 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm | #205

        @Will – Gift wrapping itself will have no effect. If it’s a genuine gift, declared as a gift, including documentation like a birthday card, etc, the duty-free limit jumps from $20 to $60. I don’t recommend making any kind of false declaration.

    • December 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm | #206

      @Will – If it’s worth over $20 before shipping, you will probably get dinged. DHL is notoriously difficult to pin down in terms of what they charge, however I heard some years ago they charge a disbursement fee of the greater of 2.5% of the taxes+duty or $10.00. So you would probably get dinged for $10-20.

      Be aware that DHL might send you the brokerage/duties/tax invoice several months after the fact. (That’s what I experienced in my Amazon Japan orders.)

      TIP: Place your order in January once the CBSA staffs down after the Christmas shipping rush. You might get lucky and your shipment slides through.

  106. le
    December 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm | #207

    I purchased 2 chairs from wayfair,,it says they are sittin at the border and have been there for days,,I had to pay over $200 in international shipping for them to go from the us to Canada, that was more than 1 chairs cost. Why are they “sitting” at the border? held up at customs means what? and why?

    • December 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm | #208

      Having this kind of wait at the border is pretty common: 1) At Christmas time you get a lot more shipments that usual, so this can slow clearance down. 2) The CBSA agents who clear the stuff are probably in reduced staffing due to their own holidays. 3) Some entrypoints have more backups than others. Vancouver in particular is known to introduce some big delays.

      Basically the wait is for the CBSA to assess any duties and taxes to be collected and to ensure that nothing in the shipment violates the laws of Canada. After this, clearance will proceed.

  107. Pretty Please
    December 30, 2013 at 12:24 am | #209

    Thank you doesitblog, this is indeed a very informative post!
    I just had few questions.

    I am thinking of ordering Longchamp purses from their US site (https://us.longchamp.com). I want to order two purses on sale which will add up to approximately $220-245 Canadian. Normally, they are both made in France and then are shipped to the US for US customers. For Canadian customers, I can place the order by phone. They say that the shipping is for ground only and I live in Ontario. In such case, what would be the taxes and duties and brokerage fee?

    I am willing to pay for the HST (13%) as well as the shipping fee but if the hidden brokerage/taxes/duties on top of the price of the purses are greater than the retail price of the purses in Canada, I would rather buy it in person in Canada than order online.

    Thanks!

    • December 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm | #210

      @ Pretty Please, you will almost certainly have the 13% HST due. You can get out of brokerage fees* by using the B15 process described by “Andy” in the comments above.

      * Depending on the subtype of UPS shipping, the brokerage fees may be included in the shipping price.

      The real issue is the duties. I am no expert on Canada’s customs tariff, as it is an extremely complicated matter and the tariff schedules are hundreds of pages long. According to the Customs Tariff Harmonized System Section VIII, Tariff Item 4202.21.00, the duty for leather handbags is 10%.

  108. Pretty Please
    December 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm | #211

    PS. I just called them up and they said they only ship UPS.

  109. Christine
    January 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm | #212

    I will be traveling to Canada by plane and would like to send a camera tripod ahead of time. The value is under 1600 CAD. I would also like to ship it back to the USA. Do I need to pay the tax even though I’m not purchasing it or selling it?

    • January 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm | #213

      @Christine – I have no idea on this! Logically you would think you shouldn’t have to pay duties or taxes on your own possessions, however, the government is not logical. If you are bringing in a tripod worth around $1600 – you haven’t said how much “under $1600″ it is, they will probably assume it is for business purposes, which then may lead to questions on whether you have a Visa for work purposes, how much you are paid, reporting income to IRS, etc. Honestly I am sorry but I really have no idea on this.

      • Christine
        January 1, 2014 at 7:47 pm | #214

        Thanks so much for your time. After researching this for two days, I will just pack the tripod in my checked bag. Thanks again.

  110. Chris
    February 9, 2014 at 8:25 pm | #215

    I am planning on bringing plants from the US and the importer has to have a phyto sanitary certificate prepared. I will need a plant permit. I am wondering if you know if there are extra fees for inspection and extra brokerage costs for bringing plants.

    The cost of the goods will be around 5,000.00. Are brokerage fees a percentage of this amount?

    Thanks,

    Chris

  111. Chris
    February 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm | #216

    Sorry – a correction to that last comment – the exporter has the phyto sanitary certificate.

    • February 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm | #217

      @Chris, to be short, I have no idea. This sounds like a pretty complicated transaction compared to what normally gets posted on here. Firstly, I do not know if phyto-sanitary documentation is all you will need, or if there are other pieces of documentation. I would imagine that agricultural transfers of living organisms could include a lot of scrutiny due to regulations protecting our local farmers from invasive parasites, etc.

      Are you personally bringing these plants across or are they being shipped? If it’s you personally bringing the plants, obviously there is no brokerage because you are accounting for it yourself. If this is a business transaction, don’t lie about that. You will probably need to have an HST number ready, etc.

      I don’t think there would be “extra” brokerage for this sort of thing, since it is the CBSA, not the broker, who would do the inspection and clearance. If this is a courier, the brokerage fees will indeed be dependent on the declared value. It could be hundreds of dollars depending on the shipping method. As for extra duties, again, this is a very complicated question as the tariff schedule is hundreds of pages long.

  112. ann
    March 25, 2014 at 3:36 am | #218

    i am planning of placing an order of clothes worth about $800 from china, and it says free shipping plus no taxes, i was wondering if i will pay anything in canada when my goods arrives? Thanks

    • March 25, 2014 at 6:09 pm | #219

      @ann, the Chinese shipper has no control over what happens at the Canadian border. You will probably be charged duties, taxes and brokerage as described in my article.

  113. wez
    April 11, 2014 at 6:59 pm | #220

    Hello & thank you so much for this excellent blog! I’ve been reading through it, but have gotten a bit confused along the way & so thought I’d make a little post with my query. I recently placed several orders with iherb.com which were all shipped via Global Priority Mail by DHL & then handed over to Canada Post at the border (I think). Anyway, 2 of the 4 packages were delivered to me without any additional fees required. The other 2 packages, though, seem to have each incurred fees of $13-15. CP tried to deliver these 2 packages today, however no one was home so delivery attempt notices were left. Each of the packages’ value was under $50 (as were the 2 that made it through without fees, despite the fact that one had a value of $61, higher than the other 3). I tried phoning both CP & DHL to get more information about the fees, but neither could tell me much & DHL seemed to feel that they were levied by Canada Customs, which makes sense. Anyway, my question is: should I refuse the parcels & request a reassessment, or would it be better to pay the fees & then try for a readjustment? I’m not entirely clear on whether, by refusing & requesting reassessment, there might be further fees incurred? Also, I’m not sure how long this process might take & while I don’t need the items super urgently, I’d rather not have to wait too long to get them!
    FWIW, the value of the 2 packages in question is $44.86 & $49.88 USD, & all products ordered were manufactured in North America (mostly the US).
    Thanks so much for any help!

    • April 11, 2014 at 11:04 pm | #221

      As you’ve seen, there is no way to know for sure whether a shipment will incur extra fees at border. Theoretically, all 4 packages should have incurred fees. But sometimes things slip through for whatever reason. Consider yourself lucky that not everything got charged.

      The $13-15 fees sounds consistent with shipments of a value of $45-50 dollars. This will include Canada Post brokerage fees and your province’s sales taxes. My suggestion is that you pay the fees. If it turns out that they charged the incorrect amount of fees, you can file a Form B2G (CBSA Informal Adjustment Request) with the CBSA with supporting paperwork and they will refund any overcharge.

      In the future, it would probably be wise to make your purchases in one large shipment so that you don’t get hit with brokerage fees for multiple packages.

  1. October 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm | #1
  2. May 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm | #2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: