Darren
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The short story which only applies to Canadians purchasing stuff from the States (and other countries) who want quick service using UPS/FedEx/other couriers without paying their insane brokerage processing fees...

You can legally avoid any UPS/FedEx/other courier fees for brokering your personal parcels into Canada by self clearing your own items. Self clearing an item will result in you paying the duties (if any) as well as an tax owed.

Note: Even though you can self clear items coming into Canada, in some rare cases it might be better to pay the couriers fees instead as it could be cheaper. I will explain why at the end of this post.

How To Self Clear

Lets use UPS as the courier company and step through the process to do this:
1. Make sure the Courier Company's Distribution Center for your area is close enough to drive to.

2. Make sure there is a CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) near by that is also easy to drive to (google it for locations). If both these locations are hours worth of driving away, then this won't be worth it for you.

3. Place an order and use UPS (I used UPS Worldwide Expedited) and have it sent to your home address in Canada. Use the following web page to determine if there will be any duty on the item you are buying:

Canada Customs Duty List
This list has two columns: the first for NAFTA (Canada, USA, Mexico), the second column for MFN (the rest of the world). Check where you are purchasing from and use the appropriate column to see if duty will apply.

In this example I was ordering a table saw blade from the USA which is a tool which is duty free (yah!).

4. Once the item has been shipped (i.e. it is on the plane and moving), contact UPS either by phone or via email to tell them you are going to self clear the parcel using the tracking number to identify it. You will ask them to email you the required documentation to your email address. When I called, the UPS person said the parcel would be delivered to my house at which point I would have to tell the driver I'm self clearing at which point he would take it back to the local UPS Distribution Center and wait for me to get the paperwork done. I told the lady this shouldn't be the case as UPS could just keep it at the Distribution Center and wait for me to get the paperwork done. She disagreed and said that is the procedure. *She was wrong*.

5. Once the item reaches the local distribution center (UPS's building in Calgary in my case), I was emailed the necessary paperwork to self clear it and I printed them out. Note that they did not try delivering the parcel as the lady over the phone said would happen. Once you identify it as being self cleared via a phone call or email, they won't try to drop it off at your house. If they do happen to arrive at your house with the parcel, reject it by telling the delivery person that you are self clearing the item. Do not accept it!

6. I drove to the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) building which happened to be 5 minutes away from the local UPS Distribution Center. At the CBSA I handed my paperwork to the officer and told him I was self clearing some saw blades (in this example) for personal use. He asked for identification (drivers license - check!) as well as my passport (which I did not have on me) but did the paperwork any way and then directed me to the cashier to pay the required taxes/duties. At this point I had a B15 form filled out by the CBSA agent plus the receipt to identify I had paid the taxes/duties on it.

7. I then went down the street to the UPS building and gave them the B15 paperwork the CBSA had given me. They brought out my parcel, scanned it and then handed it over to me.
Success!


The long story...
Being an avid online shopper for the past 15 years, I quickly learned that shopping from the states using UPS or FedEx was a big No-No. Both companies have their own brokerage service for your convenience which ends up costing you the moon. After being stung once by their incredibly steep brokerage fees for taking care of any taxes and duties that may apply to the items I had bought, I quickly stopped using them, and any company that only shipped by them. USPS (United States Postal Service) quickly became the sole trust worthy shipping method to be used when dealing with any USA purchases. They only charge $5 plus the taxes/duties that may apply and in some cases none at all since it was lower than the minimum amount needed to trigger the collection of taxes. It was $50 CAN at one point - not sure right now.

So in summary: in the past if you bought any item in the USA and had it shipped to Canada, the following shippers would handle it in this manner:

USPS (United States Postal Service)
Average shipping costs
$5 fee plus taxes/duties if over the minimum amount (~$50 CAN)
Slow Shipping as it could take 2+ weeks to arrive

UPS (United Parcel Service)
Average shipping costs
Outrageous Brokerage Fees for taking care of any taxes/duties
Fast Shipping (2 to 3 days)

FedEx (Federal Express)
Average shipping costs
Outrageous Brokerage Fees for taking care of any taxes/duties
Fast Shipping (2 to 3 days)

DHL Express
Average shipping costs
Outrageous Brokerage Fees for taking care of any taxes/duties
Fast Shipping (2 to 3 days)

I've stood tall for the past 15 years on never using UPS or FedEx when dealing with purchases from the states but now an issue arose that was going to cause me grief...

This all started when I received notice that a Kickstarter I had pledged for had suddenly changed their shipping policy to Canada from shipping directly from Europe to shipping to the States and then to Canada. I got cold sweats thinking of the insane charges that the courier company would be charging me for my new expensive board game and immediately started looking for a solution. I stumbled across a blog which explained that its Canadian Law for any person to be able to self clear their own Parcels, thereby avoiding having UPS/FedEx doing it for you. You still have to pay the taxes and any duties on your parcels, but now you don't have to pay the courier company to do that for you. It all seemed legit so after some more research and a few calls, I decided to do a test run.

I needed some new table saw blades so I found some for $55 USD each. The same saw blades in Canada were going to cost me $130 CAN each. Go figure. So I placed my order and used UPS Worldwide Expedited for 2 to 3 day delivery. The cost for this service was more than I wanted to pay but would still come out much cheaper than buying the saw blades locally if this worked as expected.

So following the steps I listed above, the parcel eventually arrived and I took the 30 minutes to self clear the item through CBSA and then the UPS Distribution Center to pick it up. In total the blades cost me $181.15 CAN for two saw blades after foreign exchange and the required taxes were added together. That's a few pennies over $90 CAN each which is a pretty good deal.

Now that I know this works and have experienced it for my self, I'm prepared for any courier company that may be used to send my Kickstarter game my way in the next few months. I won't know for sure who is being used (USPS/UPS/FedEx) but will wait until that time to act on it.

Hopefully this has educated my fellow Canadians such that they too can now use some of the faster courier services when dealing with out of country businesses that only use them for shipping international.

Take that you nasty Courier Company Brokerage Departments!

When Should You Pay The Courier Fees?
I have run into a few cases where it is actually cheaper to pay the courier fees rather than self clearing. In my experience, these situations arise when dealing with Chinese suppliers as they some times do not put the purchased price you paid as the declared value. For instance, if you buy some custom clothing that comes out to $120 USD with free shipping (not really free as the $120 USD cost must cover the expedited courier cost to a degree). The Chinese company manufactures the clothing and then ships it DHL Express so you will receive it within days, rather than months if the regular mailing system had been used. Therefore, you did the following:
a) paid $120 USD for the clothing/shipping.
b) you checked and found that there is a 18% duty on clothing

The Question is: Do you self clear this or pay the courier charge?
During transport of the clothing to Canada, DHL Express notifies you that there will be a $25 fee in order to cover taxes & duties on the parcel. I called DHL and found out that in this case, the Chinese company has listed the price as $30 USD instead of the $120 USD. In this particular case, it is cheaper for you to not self clear the parcel and instead pay the fees. If you did self clear, there is a chance that the CBSA will request the original invoice in order to process the correct duties and taxes. This will result in you showing them the $120 USD price instead of the declared $30 USD price. If you did self clear and the CBSA uses the $120 USD price, your extra duty and tax cost will be around $37 instead of the $25 DHL wants. No brainer in this case that $25 is easier on your pocket book.

Edit #1: Added the Canada Customs Duty Web Page link and DHL Express to the list.
Edit #2: Added example of why sometimes paying the courier fees is a better deal.
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Well done, sir! And thank you for taking the time to share what you've learned. A for your efforts!
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Glenn Manser
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Wow...I'm not far outa Calgary (Didsbury) myself, so this might be worthwhile doing.
Out of curiousity, did you choose FedEX/UPS more because it was faster shipping, or did it work out cheaper than using USPS as well? In some cases it won't matter, if your only choices are the couriers, but just wondering.
Either way, thanks for letting us fellow Canucks know...anything to make shipping outa the States cheaper is cool with me!
 
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LJ
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I became educated like you when I once had UPS charge me 50% of the cost of a game! But there are still some companies that'll make self-clearing a headache for you. I recently bought a jersey from the UK. They used Aramex to ship AND clear the package before releasing it to Purolator for local delivery. I got a call from Aramex telling me I needed to send them x dollars so they could release the package. I told them I'd clear it myself and they said I couldn't because it had already been done. I told them that was illegal - they needed my permission. A lengthy and aggravating conversation followed until I finally [sort of politely] asked if they were as uneducated on the subject as they seemed or if they were just playing dumb. At that point they offered to cancel and reprocess the order with a warning of associated fees for doing so. It was lie after lie. The incompetence started to make me worry that my jersey might get lost in the reprocessing so I bit the bullet and paid, this one time. Their fees aren't high like other couriers but they are deceitful nonetheless. And their strategy is to wear you down.
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Darren
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Yatsuo wrote:
Wow...I'm not far outa Calgary (Didsbury) myself, so this might be worthwhile doing.
Out of curiousity, did you choose FedEX/UPS more because it was faster shipping, or did it work out cheaper than using USPS as well? In some cases it won't matter, if your only choices are the couriers, but just wondering.
Either way, thanks for letting us fellow Canucks know...anything to make shipping outa the States cheaper is cool with me!
In this case for the saw blades they did have a USPS solution but it was the over night delivery which worked out to be almost twice what UPS 2 to 3 day delivery was offering. FedEx was a dollar more than the UPS shipping so I went with UPS.

The point I was trying to make was that many companies in the States only use UPS or FedEx. They don't support USPS so as a Canadian, I wouldn't even look at these companies on principal alone since I refused to pad their coffers with their outlandish brokerage fees.

Now I have a reasonable choice which opens many more doors for future purchases.

For reference in Calgary:
UPS Distribution Center: 22 Aero Dr NE, Calgary, AB T2E 8Z9
CBSA: 175 Aero Way Northeast, Unit 162, Calgary, AB T2E 6K2

The two are very close to each other right beside the airport (north West of it).
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Darren
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LJplays wrote:
I became educated like you when I once had UPS charge me 50% of the cost of a game! But there are still some companies that'll make self-clearing a headache for you. I recently bought a jersey from the UK. They used Aramex to ship AND clear the package before releasing it to Purolator for local delivery. I got a call from Aramex telling me I needed to send them x dollars so they could release the package. I told them I'd clear it myself and they said I couldn't because it had already been done. I told them that was illegal - they needed my permission. A lengthy and aggravating conversation followed until I finally [sort of politely] asked if they were as uneducated on the subject as they seemed or if they were just playing dumb. At that point they offered to cancel and reprocess the order with a warning of associated fees for doing so. It was lie after lie. The incompetence started to make me worry that my jersey might get lost in the reprocessing so I bit the bullet and paid, this one time. Their fees aren't high like other couriers but they are deceitful nonetheless. And their strategy is to wear you down.

Good to know. I have not ordered anything over seas yet so I haven't had the pleasantry you went through. I wonder if you could have taken their name and phone number and told them that you were contacting the CBSA to investigate it if that would have worked. I would have also made sure to pay with my credit card so I could always get it charged back in the case it didn't arrive (never done this before but that is why I assume you pay by credit card and not paypal in cases like this).

I hope my game coming from Greece doesn't have to go through something like this.

My first experience with this was with 3 free DVD's 15 years ago. I purchased a DVD player and 3 free DVD's were gifted to me by Panasonic for the purchase. UPS shipped it and on arrival they requested $28. I couldn't understand it as the import documentation stated it was zero cost yet UPS was demanding money for doing nothing (the total was less than what was required to collect GST). My hate for those courier companies started right there.

*Edited for adding how I was gifted 3 DVD's
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Darren
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Looks like my Project: Elite board game will be shipped to Canada via DHL from the UK. From the sounds of it (and some googling), they are as bad as UPS & FedEx with the brokerage fees. I did find a link on the DHL page for self clearing which mentions sending them an email for the required paperwork so my confidence is high that I will be able to self clear the game once it arrives in X amount of weeks.

For those of you interested in the DHL link for self clearing, here it is:
DHL Clearance Forms for Individuals

Note: DO NOT fill in the form - that is giving them permission to clear for you - bad bad bad. Click on the alternative email link in the second paragraph to request the required paperwork to start the self clearing process yourself. Remember to do this once you receive the tracking number AND it is in transit. Calling early will accomplish nothing as the item must be in transit in order for the paperwork to commence.
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Donald M.
United States
Sweet Grass
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I find that most Canadian OLGS games are pretty much the same as in America expect when they have sales.

The problem is the shipping from USA to Canada is quite high regardless if you self clear or not.
 
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Darren
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An update to my Project: Elite board game being shipped from Greece...

Just before Christmas I received notification from Drawlab that my game had been mass transited with everyone's game (in North America) to a shipping center in the USA. It was then shipped to me using UPS and they emailed me the tracking number. I called UPS and told them I would self clear the parcel and they told me they would email me the required paperwork once it cleared the border.

I then watched as it cleared the border and made it's way to my house. I never received an email. I called twice to UPS asking what was going on and the guy said he would contact their brokerage department to have the email sent out that day. Next morning - still no email and then suddenly the UPS truck shows up and he drops the parcel off at my door. No charges. So I lucked out and my parcel went through customs with nothing owing. That also explains why I received no email from UPS as there were no charges. Crazy! (and Lucky!).

Update:
A week later UPS mailed me a letter asking for the brokerage fees and taxes. I called their support number and explained how I had tried to self clear the parcel but they had failed to following through. They confirmed this via their notes and emails on my account. In the end I agreed to pay the taxes but avoided the brokerage fees which is exactly what I would have paid had I been able to self clear. Worked out "fairly" in the end.
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Darren
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Just a quick update that I updated the main post to reflect what duty you may expect to pay on items being shipped from around the world.

I just received a hoodie for my daughter which was shipped by DHL Express from China (free shipping - not sure how that worked out but I won't complain). I called DHL and started the self-clearing process. After receiving the paperwork from DHL, I went to my local CBSA. While talking to the CBSA agent she mentioned there would be a 18% duty on the clothing plus the GST when shipped from China. I didn't know this. Now I do.

I figured the rest of you Canadians would like to know how to figure this out ahead of time so I added the link above. Here it is again:
Canada Customs Duty List

It has two columns which represent stuff shipped within NAFTA (Canada/USA/Mexico) and MFN (the rest of the world). Use the relevant column in determining if you will have any duty applied when ordering from other countries.

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Darren
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Oiler1 wrote:
I find that most Canadian OLGS games are pretty much the same as in America expect when they have sales.

The problem is the shipping from USA to Canada is quite high regardless if you self clear or not.


I only wish Canada had as many sales as the USA has. Anyone in the USA has way more opportunities of finding a game on sale compared to what we have in Canada. Sales in Canadian board games are a rare event. Just look at Amazon.com vs Amazon.ca at any time to see how much we differ.

And you are absolutely correct in shipping charges. The only way to make it work is to have a "shipping mule" in the USA who brings up your games every so often. My parents use to do this when they traveled a lot. Not so much any more...
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Darren
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Added another section to the main post describing a case where it is actually cheaper to pay the courier charges rather than self clearing.
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Trogdor The Burninator
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Quote:
Just look at Amazon.com vs Amazon.ca at any time to see how much we differ.


With the current dollar exchange rate, Amazon.ca is looking pretty sweet compared to the U.S site (assuming that the Canadian site has your item in stock).

For example: I'm having a very difficult time finding any used expansion stuff for Star Wars: Imperial Assault. So I recently bought the "Twin Shadows" expansion from the Canadian site for $49.27 CAD. The U.S. site is selling for $39.95 which translates to roughly $55.00 CAD at the current exchange, and that doesn't include the duty or shipping. And if the value of your item is over $35 CAD, Amazon.ca will ship for free (you Don't have to be a Prime member for this).

I'm not a spokesman for Amazon or anything but, just like everyone reading this forum, am tired of the ridiculous shipping/brokerage fees the Canadians are charged. I'm FED UP with FEDEX (and the like).

So much for NAFTA...where's the so called FREE TRADE?!?! The acronym should be changed to, SCAMta: Screw Canada and Mexico Trade Agreement. arrrh

All too often you look up shipping charges, from the U.S. to International, only to find that European countries are paying 1/3 the price for shipping than Canada. People can rationalize all they want about population density but it doesn't change the fact that a package being sent a few hundred kilometers to Canada (usually by ground) is double or triple the cost of sending the same package Thousands of Kilometers over-seas (usually by air, a much more expensive mode of transport).

Well that's enough ranting for one day. My point is: Amazon.ca is a viable option...if they have it in stock.

Do you think that you could "Self Clear" items bought from Amazon.com?
 
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Glenn Manser
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There's a shipper in Alberta that allows you to ship to a Montana addresss, after which they clear customs and bring it across the border for a fee. I just used it for the first time, but it beats the ups scam for sure. Not sure if a similar system is in place anywhere else in the country but it might be worth looking into.

https://www.dykpost.com For anyone wanting to look into it.
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Darren
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Yatsuo wrote:
There's a shipper in Alberta that allows you to shop to a Montana addresss, after which they clear customs and bring it across the border for a fee. I just used it for the first time, but it beats the ups scam for sure. Not sure if a similar system is in place anywhere else in the country but it might be worth looking into.

https://www.dykpost.com For anyone wanting to look into it.
How much are the fees they charge? I have never heard of them so I might use them if reasonable.
 
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Glenn Manser
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I haven't received my package yet, so I can't quote exact prices. The website shows that they charge a brokerage fee based on the dollar amount of what you're importing and the delivery fee was weight based.
I ordered Dungeon Roll KS edition off an auction here and it should hit their Montana location today, so hopefully I can give a final price this week.
 
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Glenn Manser
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*UPDATE*
So, I just picked up the game in Calgary. I can't really say that I saved anything on shipping to be honest.
It cost me $8 USD to ship to Montana from the seller here, and an additional $26 CAD to get it cleared when I picked it up in Calgary...so all told, it cost me around $40 CAD to get it delivered.
Where I think this service is beneficial is that it allows me to order on auctions and sales in the US that don't offer international shipping.
 
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