$50 Import Charge For eBay Items From USA To Canada?

Inquiring readers named Kurt want to know: If a buyer from Canada buys something from someone in America on eBay, pays for it, including shipping, and then it shows up with a $50 C.O.D. charge for imports and customs, is that kosher? Discuss…


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  1. metsarethe... says:


  2. Not unless it was disclosed before the time of purchase, otherwise its a bait and switch.

  3. lestat730 says:

    Definitely Not Cool, if the $50 charge was undisclosed in the auction I would think you could somehow dispute it with ebay or paypal. If nothing else, a huge negative feedback to warn others.

  4. eskimo81 says:

    Is it a shipping charge, or a customs charge?

    Customs charges are Ok, and happen from time to time, extra shipping charges are not.

  5. jaybeebrad says:

    A customs charge is not really a “C.O.D.”, and yes, it is totally kosher and legal. If you ship something of value to someone in another country you have to describe the item and declare its value on the customs form, and the customs department of that country decides if it is taxable. If it IS taxable, they will require a payment from the person accepting to package in order to deliver it to them. Simple as that.

    • Parting says:

      @jaybeebrad: Oh, and I forgot to mention.

      You can REFUSE the COD from UPS, and state that you will file paperwork for yourself with closest custom’s office. It involves some driving, and you have to get off your ass, but it saves 50$-70$, so well worth it.

      I’m not sure it works for Fedex, TNT, etc….

  6. MyPetFly says:

    Yeah, if it’s customs, it’s legit. I’ve seen eBay buyers from Canada complain about it before.

    Blame it on Canada.

  7. zsta2k7 says:

    shipping, no, complain

    unless stated in the auction, all customs charges are assumed to be responsibility of buyer.

  8. MyPetFly says:

    Piss, I wish there was an edit function. I got the song title wrong. ;)

  9. balthisar says:

    Duh! It’s an international border, and the charge isn’t from the seller, ebay, or the shipper. It’s from Canadian customs. Essentially, YOU pay duty on stuff YOU import from the USA into Canada. The seller has no need to be aware of these burdens; it’s up to the purchaser to know what he, as the purchaser, owes to the government. Consider that transactions on ebay are considered FOB (look it up), and you’ll know that it’s kosher.

    Several years ago I sold a PowerBook to a Canadian on ebay. Per his request, I labelled it “computer parts” and assigned a low value (his insurance risk!) for the express purpose of breaking Canadian law. In that I’m not Canadian and he was, and due to the FOB transaction, I complied and he didn’t have to pay his duty. Least I could do considering the junk he was buying and the price he was paying (not the PowerBooks were junk, but in terms of age, it was old and outdated).

  10. Shinsei says:

    Frustrating? Absolutely.

    Legit? Yup – well, as legit as governments get, anyway.

    Should it be disclosed in the auction? I can go either way on this. On the one hand, it would be decent of the seller to indicate that customs charges will most likely apply to any foreign buyers, but on the other hand, the onus is somewhat on the buyer to be aware of the fact that when you’re importing goods from outside the country, said charges may exist.

    As far as a best practice goes, it’s almost certainly better to disclose that the charges may exist, but that the seller can’t calculate what they might be as it depends on the country and declared value.

    • ghstomahawks says:

      @Shamanix: Ehhh, not really a seller’s responsibility to mark off what foreign countries will charge what for it. Generally speaking I’d expect a buyer to be more familiar with their government’s laws than a seller trying to inform people of how the other 194 (or so) countries would treat it if you should buy it from there.

      Of course, it goes without saying that if it was shipped from America … there’s a decent chance that the seller hadn’t even considered international shipping until someone from Canada topped the bidding.

      • Shinsei says:

        @ghstomahawks: No argument on the idea that it should be at least partially the buyer’s responsibility. but I don’t imagine it’d be too big a deal for ebay sellers in particular to slap a piece of boilerplate on their sales just as a CYA maneuver to ensure that they aren’t panned when customs (or UPS, or whomever) hits their customer with various charges.

  11. North of 49 says:

    UPS is renowned for charging $40.00 for anything coming into Canada through their shipping services. The charges are broker fees, handling and inspection, whether or not it is actually inspected. This is for the “convenience” of the customer/recipient. There has been more than one flare up of flack from this happening to people. And you don’t have a choice but pay it if you want your package. I’ve been hit twice by that scam, thank you so much UPS!

    Not so sure if Fedex or Purolator do the same padding.

    Ask the seller to use USPS instead. At worst, Canada Customs and Revenue will charge GST if they stop it. Chances are they won’t though, especially if it is for an item under $100.00

  12. North of 49 says:

    [thefurtheradventuresofpatandexpat.blogspot.com] Overcharged by UPS

    Wish I could find the news reports from three years ago about it. :/

  13. North of 49 says:

    [reviews.ebay.com] More on the overchage by UPS for shipping to Canada

  14. scoobydoo says:

    This is the reason I no longer ship to Canada.

    1) Canadians ALWAYS ask me to lie on the customs declaration. I’ve been asked to put $5 accessory on a $750 phone.

    2) UPS and FedEx always charge brokerage fees, up to around $50, and if the recipient refuses to pay them, guess who gets the bill added to their shipping account?

    I like Canadians, but shipping to them is more hassle than any other country in the world. I’d rather ship to Europe than to Canada. Canadian post has sent packages back to me because the item description was not in French AND English, plus they have lost stuff in the past. CP does not seem to understand what tracking means either…

    • Parting says:

      @scoobydoo: You are exaggerating. And ”stuff” does not get lost in USA? You just have to state in the auction that taxes/duties/brokerage (if using UPS) are on buyer’s ”conscience” and not seller’s responsibility.

      Sadly, you have stupid people on both sides of the border. I seldom post auctions to USA’s since many idiots do not understand the meaning of word ”delayed by customs”. Which is, by the way, disclosed in advance, and is easy to track, on ANY shipping service with a tracking number.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        @Victo: That’s the same reason why I don’t ship to Hawaii from the continental US anymore. They could NOT figure out why it would take a long time for packages to get to them. I’d ship a package in less than 24 hours but if if getting there took a while they’d leave me negative feedback. There are idiots everywhere.

        Granted, I may have given up eBay for good because of the scammers anyway.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @scoobydoo: don’t forget:
      3) scammers.

      no more canada for me – had some jerk send me fake money orders & try a 409 on me. u.s. only from now on.

    • synergy says:

      @scoobydoo: CP is the bane of my existence. I’ve known many, though, who like to blame problems and delays on paranoid American Customs. Uh huh.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @synergy: Agreed. I once won some videos on Ebay that took almost TWO months to reach me in Canada. I also won some concert tickets from someone in a city a couple of hours west of me about 10 days before the show and I NEVER got them, not after the show, not ever and I even had the seller send me a copy of their shipping receipt that showed my correct address on it.

        CP (Canada Post) seems to have forgotten where my mom’s house is.

    • Gray Wolf says:


      I sold my HD-DVD player a while back (about six months ago) to a guy in Canada and shipped via FedEx

      then suddenly this past month I’ve gotten a bill for almost $50 for the customs charges and sure enough the guy who bought it isn’t responding to my emails or anything

      its BS that half the price I sold the thing for I now seem to have to pay for customs fees

      I’m no longer selling outside of the U.S.A. either

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      I’ve shipped a bunch of stuff to Canada, and I’d never heard of this until like last week. (granted, I’ve only shipped stuff via USPS)

      I don’t see how someone living outside the seller’s country can expect the seller to know about every duty on every relevant item for every country. I’m not sure it’s even reasonable to expect them to go and find out, unless you’re willing to pay them ANOTHER 10 or 20 bucks for their time on top of the shipping and customs duties.

      Or is there some centralized location where one can look up every single duty for every category of item for every country one is likely to be willing to ship to?

  15. mlynn5 says:

    I have made numerous purchases (more than 20, anyways) from the states on eBay and Amazon.com, and I’ve only been nailed by customs once. The charge turned out to be $23, but $11 of that was an escrow fee from FedEx. I refused to pay the escrow fee because it was not a service I agreed to, but I paid the taxes. The FedEx CS rep had no problem with my reasoning and reduced the charge with no hassle. I also didn’t hear from the seller complaining about the charge being dumped on them, so I assume that everything was good. Paying taxes/duty on merchandise makes sense, but paying (relatively) huge escrow fees to the shipping company is ridiculous.

  16. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The seller doesn’t know what the customs fee will be, cannot pay it in advance, and, until the auction ends, has no idea that the buyer is Canadian.

  17. krispykrink says:

    I echo everything scoobydoo said. Even the returned packages for lack of French when I sent an item via USPS which gets handed off to its Canadian brother at the border.

    • Parting says:

      @krispykrink: Sorry, but I don’t believe you. I have never met ONE custom’s officer that wasn’t bilingual. Probably your ”brother” refused to pay duties/taxes. Or whatever you were shipping was restricted for import at that moment (can happen a lot, especially to food).

      • mac-phisto says:

        @Victo: or he shipped it to somewhere in quebec. i had a woman refuse to serve me in a mcdonald’s in montreal b/c i didn’t speak french – i kid you not.

        some of those folks are borderline militant about their heritage.

        • Parting says:

          @mac-phisto: There is a difference between nationalistic nut working minimum wage at McDo and custom’s officer, bilingual, and dealing with thousands of different people in a year…

          McDo does not attract the brightest bulbs. And if it happens, as soon as they get some experience, they run away to better jobs :)

  18. ThinkerTDM says:

    People seemed shocked that canadian customers ask them to “break the law”.
    I am sure everybody who posts here has paid the sales tax on everything they buy over the internet. Because not doing that is breaking the law also.

    • @ThinkerTDM: Actually, I do pay the (estimated) sales taxes for stuff I buy on the Internet. Michigan’s tax forms make it a line item on the state income tax form.

      Anyway, on point: Like everyone said, the seller didn’t do this. The Canadian government did. Buyers in Canada have to lie, or live with it.

    • @ThinkerTDM: @emington: People seemed shocked that canadian customers ask them to “break the law”. I am sure everybody who posts here has paid the sales tax on everything they buy over the internet. Because not doing that is breaking the law also.

      There is a difference between customs evasion and sales tax evasion. Not paying sales tax is something I can do on my own by doing nothing. I don’t need the seller to be an accomplice.

      But customs fraud requires the buyer to ask me, the seller, to assist them in breaking the law. They’re asking me to lie on a form and certify that I filled it out truthfully. That’s just not something I’m willing to do.

      It’s inconsiderate to ask someone to help you break the law.

    • ideagirl says:

      @ThinkerTDM: actually, I believe it is the SELLER who breaks the law by not collecting the sales tax. It is not the buyers responsibility to keep track of sales tax, it is the sellers.

      • silver-bolt says:

        @ideagirl: Only in places where they are required to collect the sales tax, i.e. mostly places where they (The seller) are physically located. Otherwise, the “”sales”” tax is actually a “use” tax the BUYER is responsible to declare on their state taxes.

  19. Ecks says:

    Stuff sent by courier (UPS, whatever), they assess the customs fee themselves, which is WAY more than necessary. If you are buying from USA seller and in Canada (like me), simply ask they mail it US Post, and nothing else. You’ll get charged the taxable value plus $5 assessment fee, if they even bother to do it. Couriers ALWAYS do this and their assessment fee is $25 or more.

  20. Jesse in Japan says:

    I really do find it difficult to believe that a person living in Canada and using eBay would be unaware that the government of Canada assesses import duties on merchandise arriving from another country. Frankly, I think it’s alright for the Canadian buyer to try to stick it to the Man by asking the seller to label the item as a gift or to understate its value, but the seller really has no obligation to lie on a customs form and shouldn’t be expected to do so.

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      @Jesse in Japan: I believe his confusion is the nature of the change.

      The seller is responsible for collecting sales tax (though Zod knows how an American submits collected taxes to the Canadian government.)

      The shipper assesses brokers fees and, in my experience, it’s a crap shoot. I’ve had people collect it up front and I’ve had UPS ask for payment at the door before they hand over the parcel.

      Import duty is between the buyer and the Can gov’t. I spent weeks crawling around England & Scotland. When I arrived back home, the duty was payable to that charming red-head at customs – regardless of where I picked up the stuff.

      The seller calls it a COD fee, which doesn’t seem to fell into any of those categories.

  21. Parting says:

    OK, let’s make something clear. It applies to ANYTHING coming to Canada, not only eBay items.


    1) if shipped by USPS, the package will be taken care in Canada by Canada Post (government agency). Last time I imported, it was 8$ CAD + taxes you’ll have to pay

    2) If shipped by UPS/Fedex/TNT/*any private company service* , those companies decide what brokerage charge the customer has to pay. Usually varies between 50$ and 70$ CAD + taxes + 2%/4% for ”advancing” taxes to pay your taxes first.

    It’s importer’s (customer’s ) responsibility to check which taxes/brokerage fees are there to pay, since there a lot of regulation that changes from one country to another.

    (Pot is legal some countries, doesn’t make it legal to import).

    • Parting says:

      @Victo: EXEMPTIONS (no taxes/brokerage) are made for :

      PERSONAL GIFTS : each gift has to be under 60$CAD, but there is no limit on number of gifts in one package. So if you have 3 rings, each 50$, it’s still taxes free.

      EVERYTHING ELSE : exemption for packages containing for less that 20$CAD value of merchandise. (Which is *cheap*, compared to 200$USA on the other side of the border…)

      Everything else, be ready to pay…

  22. JasonR says:

    Nothing new – importing something into your country costs money.

    From eBay: [pages.ebay.com]

    “What if I live in Canada and purchase an item from a U.S. seller?
    Fees, duties and taxes are often not included in the purchase, shipping and handling fees on international shipments to Canada. If you are a Canadian buyer purchasing goods from outside of Canada you should check with the seller to determine whether the fees (including customs clearance charges), duties and taxes are included in the purchase price.

    How can sellers make it easier to ship to Canada if they live in the U.S.?
    UPS offers U.S. sellers a Non-Resident Importer (NRI) Account. The U.S. seller can then bill you up front for duties and taxes, as well as shipping and handling.”

  23. bobpence says:

    Customs duties may not apply due to NAFTA, but that doesn’t obviate the need for a customs form.

    When I worked part time at a shipping store, I would remind customers that they were not just mailing or shipping something if it went to another country, they were EXPORTING it. They had to fill out customs forms and declare a value, whether there was a tariff or not.

    Oddly, the high tech stuff I buy on eBay that ships from China always seems to have a VERY low declared value.

  24. North of 49 says:

    All government of Canada employees are recommended if not out right required to be bilingual in both of our official languages, no matter which part of Canada you work in.

  25. dragonfire81 says:

    I’d be curious to know what the item in question is as I have recieved items from US buyers in Canada before and never had such a charge.

    If it was a for a larger or more expensive item I can see how this might apply.

    I know a lot of ebay buyers want sellers to mark items as a gift to avoid the charges, but customs fraud is not a good idea.

  26. JeffDrake says:

    Don’t forget P P P Powerbook . . . great story about getting the scammer to pay the import fees

    /not really related
    //hilarious story anyway
    ///block out a few hours to read it

  27. josh42042 says:

    definitely Kosher.

    One way you can get around it is by labeling the package as “personal gift”, that should get it through customs in canada.

  28. emington says:

    Completely legitimate fee, but I’d have to go with ThinkerTDM on this one…

    I remember being annoyed as a child when I won a contest from America and was sent my prize but had to pay 50$ customs on it (well my father did).. it was more than the cost of the prize… .-.

    • loraksus says:

      IIRC, FedEx and UPS are both US owned companies. They are the ones charging the bullshit fees, not the Canadian government.

      I’m also pretty sure the fee is much smaller / non-existent if you ship to a business which has a UPS / FedEx account.

      $50-$70 for a “customs handling” fee when the USPS way costs $8 is not legitimate. How the hell can 5x-10x more be defined as “legitimate”?

  29. humphrmi says:

    Agreed with others. It’s not the sellers problem that you live in Canada, and you can’t estimate import taxes in your listing (or at all). Buy from ebay.ca or pay your government or replace them by voting in new ones.

  30. clevershark says:

    I’ve had this happen before, and every damn time it was a shipment done by UPS. The only way to avoid being ripped-off (unfortunately, legally) like that is to completely avoid doing business with any company that only uses UPS for shipping.

    This may seem surprising, but I’ve always had fast, courteous service using USPS and Canada Post. Whenever it’s an option that’s the one I pick. I usually get faster service that way too, because UPS’s idiot drivers never seem to find my place on the first try (even though I live in a large apartment building on a well-known street downtown).

  31. northerngirl says:

    There is a NAFTA exemption for paying duties. To qualify, the item must be for personal use and made in the U.S. or Canada, but I have seen lists that also include Mexico and Costa Rica. Here’s the info:


    A funny side story. I live in Buffalo, NY and have been know to go across the border for the sole purpose of buying potato chips in flavors not available here, which can sometimes be interesting to explain to the border guards. One such trip went something like this:

    U.S. Border Guard: Purpose of your visit to Canada?
    Me: Shopping.
    USBG: That’s funny, cause most people come to the U.S., not the other way around.
    Me: I was buying all-dressed chips…all-dressed potato chips. They aren’t available here.
    USBG: Never heard of ’em.
    Me: Exactly!

    He let me through after that.

  32. hotrodmetal says:

    Canada is really just a suburb of the United States.

    It doesn’t make sense that our brothers from the north get taxed like this.

  33. midwestkel says:

    If the shipper sends it as a gift then I think there are no customs charges, thats how it was for me whe I have sent things to Canada.

  34. I just checked my UPS software. As a registered business (UPS has my EIN) I have NO capability to ship a gift to Canada.

    The declared value of the goods must match the insured value (I can’t say the goods are worth $1 and then insure the item for $1000) as the software will kickout variants.

    I must either prepay the brokerage fees or assign the fees to the customer or to a 3rd party.

    There are some other checks and balances in the system to eliminate fraud.

    FedEX has similar systems to counter fraud.

    BTW, read the UPS or FedEx tariffs (contract between shipper and shipping company)… import or export fraud is a violation of the terms of the tariff and will result in the your shipping account being closed and forfeiture of your account deposit/bond as well as notification of authorities as appropriate.

  35. shockwaver says:

    Standard practice. Canadians get the shaft when it comes to US goods. Not only do we pay more in retail for the same goods (with the dollars at near par) by 25% or so, we pay more for goods that are MADE in canada, and shipped down to the US. We also get screwed on customs for everything. I had a $120 IP phone sent up, and had to pay almost $90 in customs charges and brokerage fees. And woe to you if you weren’t expecting the package that day as most places are cash only.

  36. emilymarion333 says:

    I have working in Logistics for many years and this is totally legit – it might not be something you want to pay tough.

    People always ask to declare a lower value – which I will not due for them. If the product gets lost are damaged I want to reimbursed for the full price.

    Sometimes we would send samples and you have to fill out all of the forms correctly and mark it “no commercial value” so my customer would not be hit w/ lots of charges.

  37. Eric1285 says:

    Back when I did a lot of selling and trading on forums, I used to always offer to mark items being sent to Canada as gifts. A lot of people took me up on it and I never heard of anything going wrong because of it.

  38. donovanr says:

    The only company that has charged me anything on my end is UPS (it is DHL who delivers for them in our area). I once ordered a huge and expensive server >100lbs that came on a wooden pallet via FedEx and didn’t pay a cent to the delivery person. But a UPS’d $12 t-shirt resulted in around $60 in customs. UPS wanted $40 for a brokerage fee and $20 in duties. The t-shirt was US made and thus exempt from all duties. I also ordered $200 US made boots and was hit with a huge fee of around $80. Recently a person ordered a chair worth a few hundred dollars and was only hit with the $40 brokerage fee. Some of these were ebay but most were just ordering online. Ever since on ebay I have always asked for the USPS to be used. I think it is cheaper on the sender’s end and I am impressed with the speed of delivery (~1 week) for basic service.

    In two cases I complained to the company and in both cases UPS told them that no fees were charged on my end.

    I wonder how many companies in the US wonder why Canadians only order from them once? I would assume that most Canadians assume that the company screwed them not UPS.

    Where UPS keeps charging on duty exempt items I will assume that they are just keeping the money “in case” there are duties. I will also assume that if you were to investigate this that you would find there is some way to get around these charges but that UPS would need you to document the size of your genitals or get the signature of a Yeti to do so.

    In summary; before you order from the US check to see if they will ship USPS and avoid UPS like the plague.

  39. jamar0303 says:

    Times like this are when I wish North America was a bit more like the EU (especially with the border thing).

  40. t325 says:

    I sold a BlackBerry to someone in Canada (I’m in the US) and I specifically stated that I would be willing to ship to Canada and pay for the initial shipping from USPS, and he would be responsible for any extra duties and taxes got added on. And sure enough, he did get hit with some duties. I don’t remember how much they were, but he paid them (and didn’t put up a fuss at all, he was a great buyer). Their main cellular provider up there (Rogers) are such crooks that it was probably cheaper for him to buy my BB and pay import duties than it was to buy one there.

  41. Manue says:

    It’s a known fact that Canadian Customs and the different restrictions-fees are horrible. Some American companies are even offering to receive your packages on the other side of the border so you can “pass” them yourself or they’ll forward them (see: [www.freeportforwarding.com] ); also useful to receive merchandise that can’t be delivered to a Canadian address.

  42. comicgeek77 says:

    when you ship an item out of country (at least to canada and the uk) they have to pay a customs charge/tax based on the value of the item. its not legal but when you fill out the customs form to send items over there you can mark the item as a gift allowing them to dodge having to pay the custom charge/tax.

  43. North of 49 says:

    You take a chance when shipping it as a “gift.” I’ve been hit with duties twice when that happened, and they were legit gifts from family members.

    Then there was this needlework exchange I was a part of. I dropped out because the needleworker who sent stuff to me messed up twice and I got charged duty way more than the materials were worth. I rescued both parcels, stitched and sent them on. But I had had enough and don’t do those exchanges anymore.

  44. DantePD says:

    My wife marks stuff as “gifts” usually, it just depends on what it is. Even without customers asking.

  45. attackgypsy says:

    I sent a friend, ok, more than a friend, a pair of boots from the US to Canada. Value was about 35 bucks.

    She paid 15 bucks Canadian in customs fees. All because I declared a proper value.

    But the pics I got back of her in those boots… and that schoolgirl skirt… priceless.

  46. Optimistic Prime says:

    This happens regardless what country you send to, and a lot of times the duties and taxes are outrageous. I sent an accordion to Bolivia, and it was worth $80. The consignee had to pay $150 to Bolivian customs to retrieve it.

  47. skadebo says:

    Check it:


  48. clickable says:

    It’s been a while but IIRC when we sold internationally, we had a problem undervaluing the item on customs forms because of the insurance, i.e., we wanted to be reimbursed for the actual value if something happened. We stated it in our terms of sale – that (a) buyer was responsible for customs and (b) we would state actual sale price on the customs form. We used to attach a copy of the auction itself, showing the winning amount, to the customs paperwork. I’m not sure who gave us that idea.

    We had a few sales to Canada, but more to Asia and Europe. We always corresponded with the buyer throughout the process, but that kind of hand-holding wouldn’t work with a high-volume seller. I’m not sure if the “personal touch” made a difference, but we never had a problem.

    IMO, it’s up to the buyer to know the state of customs in his/her country. There are countries that are a lot worse than Canada, but we hear most about Canada because they are next door and so culturally similar, so it’s a surprise that customs is such an obstacle.

    If memory serves, Italy has some wierd restrictions, I think you’re not allowed to send leather goods (but don’t quote me). I know some sellers got burned and then refused to ship to Italy, which must have seemed strange to casual buyers looking through an auction’s terms and conditions. Italy is certainly not a country you’d think of as problematic.

    eBay’s discussion boards – especially Packing & Shipping, in the case of customs – can be very helpful. And surprisingly activist. Packing & Shipping is a roiling hotbed of controversy .

  49. quail says:

    Actually it doesn’t even have to be something that you bought. My company sent some gifts to customers in Canada and insured them USPS. The Canadian customers got them with Canadian tax due. In the end, everything was refused and all of the gifts came back. We sent them again without insurance and prayed that nothing got lost. What a fiasco. Canadian tax is insane.

  50. ShwetaKhavon says:

    As someone that works for a U.S. Customs broker, maybe I can shed some light. The fee, granted the amount seems a little high, is probably to cover the cost of processing the shipment through customs. To enter the country the goods have to be submitted to customs by a broker. That broker charges a fee based on the type of goods that are shipped. If something is under a certain dollar amount ($200 entering US, unsure about entering Canada) it can typically skip the submission process to Customs. But anything over that and you’re going to have duty and brokerage fees. That cost has to be passed on to someone.

  51. KSPRAYDAD says:

    Every thing I buy in the states online (I’m in Canada) I have shipped to my Aunt. She brings it cross border every 3 mos when visiting and no duties are payable as she is the owner of the goods. Lucky for me I guess.

  52. The_IT_Crone says:

    1) It’s legit because it’s a customs charge. It’s not from eBay or the seller.

    2) I don’t believe it’s the duty of the seller to disclose, warn, etc you because how are THEY supposed to know what every country in the world has for customs laws? YOU live there.

  53. DaveTyranham says:


    And to me, this sucks worse then gas prices.

    I would love to hand over more money to the U.S. economy, but the gouge and screw policies of UPS and the other shippers (but mainly UPS) are unbearable.

    I use to order print marketing materials from places like overnight prints … but reliably, I am charged an extra $40 by UPS to do it.

    It’s horrible, disgusting, and while there are a lot of great things about Canada, importing with con artists like UPS isn’t one of them.

    But this is COMPLETELY a UPS issue.

    • I looked up the brokerage fees schedule for UPS and FedEx. There’s no clearance charge for UPS using Worldwide Express Plus, Worldwide Express, Worldwide Express Saver and Worldwide Expedited and FedEx using Express. (You still have to pay duty and tax, of course.) But….

      There is a $50 (UPS) or $75 (FedEx) Duty and Tax Amendment fee. What’s the amendment fee?

      Duty-and-Tax Claim/Amend. A fee applies if we file an amendment with the CBSA in order to correct inaccurate duty-and-tax information on your entry documents. This fee also applies to voluntary entry amendments.

      So you’re taking a bit of a gamble by gaming the system.

      For the enterprising individual, here’s an explanation about how to avoid the brokerage fees by doing it yourself.

  54. unleashed says:

    UPS blows for shipping to Canada. I got charged an addition $45 + all the regular tax for a $100 item. Fuck UPS. I never paid it and I never use their service anymore.

    FedEx is OK. DHL is pretty bad. USPS is really the best way.

  55. QrazyQat says:

    I second, third, or whatever number it is by now about not using UPS to import to Canada! Come to think of it, that last sentence needs severalo exclamation points, so here they are !!!!!

    Also, duty on computer stuff to Canada probably doesn’t have any duty nowadays; back when I was getting bits for my Amiga (15 plus years ago) from the states the duty was extremely low and about to disappear. But UPS would always try to come up with some reason to try to charge a broker’s fee. They did with a video editing board I’d sent for repair and which was being returned; they even did when I first moved up there and had a friend send up a box of my winter clothes — they claimed this medium-sized box of used clothes “looked like a commercial shipment”.

    Don’t use UPS when shipping to Canada! I always liked them fine within the states; did a lot of shipping with them and very rarely had a problem. But to Canada, no way.

    Of course if you’re in Canada and want some computer stuff, just order from NCIX in Richmond, BC. Competitive prices compared to the states and no hassles.

  56. QrazyQat says:

    And I see someone just above me mentioned DHL, and let me second that. I’ve heard that some people have no probs with them, but with me they were terrible, and lied about when they’d supposedly tried to deliver (they claimed they’d tried 3 times and said when; all of those times were before the item was shipped). Apparently it’s spotty and depends a great deal on the driver in your area; you have a good driver, they’re fine, a bad driver and you’re screwed.

    I’ve always had good service with FedEx, and Canada Post has been terrific.

  57. Eilonwynn says:

    If you want to buy consistently from the US, and are canadian, and live ANYWHERE near a border, for the love of god get a US post office box (You don’t have to be a citizen to get one – some people seem to think you do), and have your stuff sent there. Hell, go in with a few others on it. Then you can choose how to declare YOURSELF when you go back across the border. And I say this as a dual citizen who ships ebay items from both Canada and the US, to both Canada and the US.

    • CanuckGreg says:


      An alternative to getting a US post office box is to have your packages shipped to a UPS Store outlet near the border. The one in Ogdensburg NY will receive and hold any shipment for a $5 fee. You don’t need to contact them in advance, and you can call and verify if your package has been received. On any given Saturday afternoon, the parking lot of the place is jammed and the license plates on every car are from Ontario or Quebec. I’ve picked up everything from a laptop battery to a set of car tires. And when crossing the border back into Canada, I’ve never once had to pay duty or GST. The Canada Customs agents just don’t give a shit.

  58. drdom says:

    How does that song go from Sheila Broflovski, from South Park-Longer, Bigger & Uncut???
    Blame Canada.

  59. Sabbadeus says:

    On one hand i’d love nothing more then to call it a rather ridiculous charge, and go into a long spiel of what was to come, be it the customs charges to ship from state to state, but then the reality sits in that we haven’t hit that point in society just yet.

    Instead the reality of the situation is that it’s a completely legal ‘tax’, I’ve run into it myself from buying things from Canada, as well as things from the UK. But all of those purchases included the ‘customs surcharge’ with the price, or I was made aware of it before submitting a payment to them.

    So yes, it’s legal, you just got shortchanged by not being told about it by the seller.

  60. thespaceferret says:

    Definitely not just UPS. I worked with a RESEARCH group that was split between the US and Canada, with the actual research taking place in Canada. The research materials we shipped? We got socked with customs. It was awful. Even though we explicitly and very clearly explained that they were not being shipped permanently. And for us, at least, they wouldn’t tell us the charges up front. Evidently, they like their cash on demand. We almost gave our receiving end a heart attack.

  61. create says:

    def not, i just ordered some car parts for my roommate from canada maybe a month and a half ago, no $50 charges

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      “def not, i just ordered some car parts for my roommate from canada maybe a month and a half ago, no $50 charges”

      car parts may be duty free as part of the Auto-Pact and the integrated US/Canada auto industry

  62. GC says:

    UPS Ground. Every bloody time. Ugh.

  63. MinchinWeb says:

    In my experience, UPS (and FedEx, etc) tend to charge a $40-50 “brokerage fee” (plus GST on the declared value, and the brokerage fee) on many items coming up from the States to Canada. I think twice about dealing with anyone who will only ship UPS, as they tend to way overstate shipping to start with, plus this.

    The way to go is USPS – you’ll still get a bill many times, but it will be for $5 plus GST on the declared value of the item.

    As for people being asked to declare items as gifts or lower the declared value, I see it as simply working the system a little, not illegal. The buyer has already agreed to part with their money, and a little understanding and help trying to work through the red tape is much appreciated.

  64. sassansanei says:

    The bulk of that $50 charge is almost certainly NOT a government tax, but a fee charged by UPS to process the package. There is some tax, but the additional fee is HUGE.

    This is over and above their shipping charge, generally undisclosed or unknown to the seller and buyer, and grossly unfair. It’s a cash cow of course which is why they continue to do it year after year. People pay the fees and think it’s a mandatory government tax, which is not the case at all.

    To avoid this charge, NEVER EVER ship by UPS from the U.S. to Canada. Use a reputable carrier like the U.S. Postal Service (USPS not UPS) and the charge is simply the actual taxes + $5.00.

  65. stchoo says:

    Its been already posted, but there have been a lot of people having saying declaring the item as a gift is a way to dodge customs fees, but that only works to a point. You still have to declare a value, and if it exceeds $60 they can charge you duties and taxes on it. Now a lot of it depends on the discretion of the CBSA person, but if they see an ipod being sent as a gift chances are it will get charged.

  66. elcrapitana says:

    I used to work at a Canada Post retail outlet. Depending on how the Canadian received his goods, the charge may very well have been kosher.

    When a package is imported into Canada, there are three scopes of expense, tax (Goods & Services tax which is now 5% and Provincial Sales Tax which varies depending on the province), duty (additional fees placed on the import of specific items, usually to protect the Canadian market, this is rarely applied but can sometimes be seen on high cost luxury items like jewelry and such) and customs brokerage.

    Tax is a predetermined amount (a %) set forth by the government. Canada customs is supposed to collect tax on all imported commercial goods with a value of over $25 Cdn. In reality Canada customs is highly overworked and has a tendency to flag many items through without charging tax, even though they are supposed to. Right now the system is desperately short customs officers and the customs officers are having labour relations issues over things like being overworked and not being allowed to have guns, so a lot of stuff when sent via USPS, slips through without getting dinged. Anyhow, my point is, the sender has no control over the practice of charging tax. In theory all commercial goods entering the country are being charged tax, regardless of how they are being sent.

    Duty is also outside of the seller’s control and is in the hands of the government. I am not too knowledgable about it, but I can tell you that it is very rarely if ever applied, and that it can be appealed if an excessive amount is charged.

    Customs brokerage is where it gets cute. Any carrier has the right to clear customs as they see fit. In order to clear customs, your package must have a guarantor, basically somebody that accept the financial responsibility of collecting the tax that will be charged by customs, on your behalf. Customs doesn’t really care if you are good for it, as they are not in the business of collections, so they bill as the package goes through.

    Canada Post charges a $5 free for customs brokerage, meaning that when you send an item USPS, it gets passed off to Canada Post, who accept the financial responsibility to pay that tax on your behalf. When your package gets to Canada, it will be handed over to the addressee when he or she pays the tax that was charged, whatever duty may have been charged, and a $5 brokerage fee for their troubles.

    UPS on the other hand has a very sneaky sliding scale for customs brokerage, which varies depending on the value of your purchase, in theory, because their brokers (it’s not actually them doing the brokerage but a brokerage firm on their behalf) accept a bigger liability the higher the cost of the tax will be. You can see their basic brokerage fee schedule here [www.ups.com] They also charge some shady “Import preparation” fees and silly things like that $2.95 here $14.95 there, to punch it up a bit.

    In Canada you also pay tax on the fees you are charged by the broker to cover the tax you were charged on whatever you bought. Are you confused yet?

    Fedex has higher fees than UPS, however you will not find very many sellers willing to ship Fedex to Canada because Fedex has a policy of billing the sender account for any unpaid customs or brokerage fees and once a sender gets screwed by Canadian customers unwilling to pay the outrageous Fedex bill a few times, he or she switches to UPS or USPS. UPS and Canada Post on the other hand, hold the addressee responsible for the cost.

    Once I ordered $70 worth of clothing from torrid.com. Little did I know they shipped via FedEx. They came without any COD but weeks later I got a bill from FedEx for $120 in tax and customs brokerage fees. The cost to import the stuff was even more than the stuff was worth.

    It’s extra tricky, because Canada Revenue charges tax based on the value in Canadian dollars, so what the exchange rate is at can have a significant impact on the final cost as well if it is an item that is similarly priced in Canada and the US.

    I have no idea about purolator, but I am guessing it would be a screw job as well. Canada Post is the only carrier I know of short of your own car or your aunt Gladys who is heading over to Montreal for a hockey game, that does not use third party brokerage services and profit from it. All of those other carriers insert middle men and questionable fees to try and profit from the transaction as much as possible. Is it kosher? Yes, because if you don’t want to pay it, then don’t accept the package. Is it shady and crappy? Yes.

    Are Canadians who do not understand how the system works, aren’t informed before hand, and get mad, throw fits or refuse to pay when they get billed or have to pay to get their parcel part of the reason why fewer people and companies are willing to ship to Canada? You better believe it.

    Incidentally with Canada Post, UPS and any carrier, if you believe you have been charged too much for your item, you can appeal it.

    A lady at our post office had ordered a white gold and black pearl pin off ebay. She got it for $125 from some type of jewelry clearance seller, even though it had a very high original value. When it came in the mail, customs had opened the parcel and saw the old price tage on the box that said $389 and charged her tax according to that value. She paid the artificially high tax charge, got her parcel and then filled out a form to appeal the assessment, along with proof of the actual value in the form of a printed paypal receipt and copies of the ebay transaction. It was recalculated and she had a check in the mail within 4 months.

  67. North of 49 says:

    Just because you mark it as “gift” does not mean the recipient will get it duty free. Customs tends to be meaner if they decide it wasn’t a gift.

    And the problem is just the courier companies. USPS/Canada Post don’t have that problem.

  68. jimconsumer says:

    I refuse to ship via UPS for this very reason. Too many of my customers getting hit with $60+ in fees on a $10 purchase. UPS lied to me every time, insisting they were not charging a fee and had delivered the package, while the customers would call me and tell me the UPS driver is holding the package hostage and demanding cash payment for these huge fees. Bunch of f’ing liars on the Canadian customs side of UPS. They also claimed the fees were all Canadian government fees, however, the $40 “inspection fee” is all UPS.

    I switched to USPS for all packages. Customers love it (3 day delivery via priority mail!), Canadians never have any trouble with it, and it’s half the price of UPS for most small packages. Oh, and they pick my packages up at my house for no additional charges. I just set them on my porch in the morning and that’s all there is to it.

  69. TexasScout says:

    This is why when I’m searching eBay, I check “US only”. I have had trouble shipping to and buying from Canada. It’s alwasys “Customs problems”. It sits for weeks waiting to clear customs and then thy add a VAT to it for the CA people.

    I have much better luck buying from China!

    • Parting says:

      @TexasScout: You have only USA’s customs to blame. It’s just your luck, that you got faster proceedings with Chinese packages. Anything coming into USA will experience custom’s delays. They raised checkups since 9/11, but didn’t hire enough new personnel.

      Blame your own government…

  70. vsavage says:

    As a Canadian who has received many packages from the United States, I can assure you that it is pretty much only UPS that pulls this crap. Other shipping companies seem to magically manage to deliver packages without these ‘mandatory’ extra costs. Funny that, eh?

  71. mizike says:

    This is the main reason why I stopped using eBay. Shipping rates to Canada are always exorbitant; generally to the extent that the cost of shipping will eliminate any savings you were hoping to get by buying used off of eBay as opposed to new in a store. Even if you can find what you’re looking for, and shipping isn’t an additional 40%, there’s always the chance you’ll get hit for $50 at the border. As such, I now only use eBay if I’m looking for an incredibly hard to find item (this summer I bought a book which has been out of print in Canada for two decades, but can be found easily in the U.S. — the shipping was almost 700% of the purchase price.)

  72. komodork says:

    If you see a Canadian Customs paper enclosed then it is legit. It is usually GST and $5 re-shipping fee, but I highly doubt you bought something on ebay for around $1000. C.O.D. is usually a shipping charge the seller implies on the item because shipping probably cost more than what was stated- if so, contact the ebayer, leave negative feedback and never do business again with them EVER!

  73. very_rachel says:

    As a Canadian, I’ve discovered you can avoid the surprise UPS charges by getting express or airmail shipping whenever possible. Sometimes it only saves you a couple dollars (the faster shipping costs more) but at least I feel less ripped off!

    If possible, as your ebay seller to declare the item being worth very little, and hopefully you’ll avoid those pesky charges!

  74. Avrus says:

    As pointed out several times in ths thread.

    The charges have nothing to do with Canada, or the Canadian government.

    UPS gouges Canadians shipping anything over the border, and FedEx comes in a close second.

    I’ve shipped thousands of dollars in product through USPS with no issues, no lost packages, and no made up fees.

  75. stavr0 says:

    In short you’re paying $50 for someone to fill in some paperwork and pay a few bucks of GST to Canada Customs.

    What to do:

    TURN DOWN the parcel, call back the courier and tell them you’ll take care of the brokerage yourself.

    Go to a CBSA office, fill in some paperwork, get a release document, go back to the courier’s depot, claim your package using the release document you got from CBSA.

    If you think the above is worth $50 the go right ahead and pay the brokerage fee.

    Source: [www.radio-canada.ca] [french]

  76. mariospants says:

    So much for “Free Trade”. Now that we essentially have dollar parity (and as long as the U.S. keep killing its banks and having hurricane release parties it’ll definitely stay that way) and price parity, what’s the point in imposing these stupid duties and taxes? Especially on products worth less than $1000. I could accept such levies on boats, trailers, cars, trucks, outhouses and other more expensive products that could take money out of the mouths of hungry Canadian politicians, but charging duty on a couple of houndred dollars’ worth of pants and shirts is just asshattery.

  77. Atlantys says:

    I’ve been hit by the import charge before: my iPod was listed as worth “$0.01”, so no duty, but my phone wasnt, and i got hit with $60 on a $100 phone

    UPS or whoever charged me $35 for them to fill out the customs form, on top of any duty, which is why it was $60

    It’s not worth it for me to even look at buying from Americans on ebay.

  78. Ranger32b says:

    Here is how it works….

    You pay for your E-bay item INCLUDING SHIPPING. Canada Customs (CBSA) can charge duties if required BUT WILL ALWAYS CHARGE GST AND ‘HANDLING FEE”. When I had my Member of Parliment ( MP )( akin to US Senator ) look into it, he told me that CBSA is to get GST ON ALL ITEMS – PERIOD.

    What U.S. shippers don’t understand is that when they ship via courier ( UPS, FedEX, DHL ) that is when the scam starts. The U.S. shippers pay for the shipment BUT when it gets to the customer in Canada…. all of a sudden these companies want a ‘brokerage fee’. If you don’t pay it, you don’t get your package OR, even better, they let you have it and send you a bill weeks later – usually for $20.00+!! Often times this makes the cost of shipping MORE than the value of the item. If you try to dispute it – they send it TO A COLLECTION AGENCY!! When I spoke to CBSA and Toronto Police they BOTH agreed that it was a GREY area that bordered on FRAUD. Why? Maybe I want to ‘broker’ my own package. Did they call and ask me if I wanted their services? NO. It is akin to me coming to your house, cutting your grass with out asking permission, then sending you a bill for services rendered that you WILL pay or be sent to collection.

    So, U.S. shippers be aware of this gouging by couriers up here – that is why Canadians make their ‘strange’ requests. Best way to ship is via U.S. Postal Service