You Could Be Unnecessarily Paying More For Your Online Purchase

You Could Be Unnecessarily Paying More For Your Online Purchase

Sally's Dilemma

Sally was shopping online when she found a deal she couldn't pass up. For years her husband Rob wanted to get a brand new flat screen TV but the answer was always "soon." It wasn't in their budget and the one they already had worked just fine. However, Sally stumbled upon a deal on a 64" flat screen that usually cost $1,700 USD but was on sale for $1,200 USD. This was way cheaper than the equivalent in Canada currently selling for $2,000 CAD.

With a tap of her finger, Sally made the purchase. The price she paid included shipping to their home by the courier the seller selected. The price did not include custom brokerage service to get it across the border, or possible duties/taxes. This would be an additional collect on delivery (C.O.D.) charge Sally would need to pay to the courier upon delivery.

Sally was glad a courier was on the job since they were known for their speedy delivery. She wanted it to arrive before Christmas so she could surprise Rob with his new gift. However the real surprise was when the TV arrived at her door the courier's brokerage fees were much higher than she expected... 25% higher to be exact. The gift she thought was going to cost her $1,200 USD ended up costing her $1,500 USD since the seller specified the courier was to C.O.D. from the buyer. Sally was caught off guard by the extra costs. She had to make the tough decision of paying the extra $300 USD she was unaware of, or risk not having a gift for her husband Rob. Sally decided to pay the fee, but you have another option.

Do I Have To Use The Seller's Selected Courier For Both Shipping And Customs Brokerage?

No. You can make the declaration yourself directly with your local CBSA office.

How Can I Self-Clear My Casual Goods?

In order to self-clear your goods and alleviate the customs release charges of a courier shipment you must inform the courier company you want to clear the shipment yourself. They will be able to provide you with the different options available.

You will make your way to your local CBSA office and provide them with the:

  • Courier company name
  • Unique shipment identifier number
  • Description of the goods
  • Value of the goods

Most, if not all, of this information will be on the shipment invoice which can be provided to you by the courier company.

In the event that the courier company doesn't get this message, and the shipment arrives at your door, you can refuse the delivery and remind the courier company you have opted to self-clear directly with CBSA. The goods will be temporarily returned to the courier's warehouse. It is important to know how long your goods will be kept at the courier's warehouse since you will want to pick up your shipment before the goods are returned to your seller. A word of caution, that sending the goods back to the warehouse can lead to confusion on where your package is being held.

Once you have settled up the duties and taxes with CBSA you will be provided with an official receipt. You will then bring the receipt provided by CBSA to the courier's warehouse and they will provide you with your casual goods.

Plan Ahead And Save The Surprise

Like most of our stories, the moral here is "know before you go." Knowing that you have the option to self clear may make your next online purchase even more desirable. Although self clearing casual goods with CBSA can be time consuming, it can save you $100?s of dollars in service charges.

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About the Author
Lisa Stevenson

Lisa has been working in the international trade industry for over 20 years, with 11 years highway transportation expertise. A Kwantlen Polytechnic University School of Business Alumni in Marketing Management, Lisa works on behalf of importers and exports to translate complicated industry regulation into easy to understand tasks they can implement. In 2017 she was invited to speak at the Vancouver Fashion Week Export Workshop, helping international designers to understand textile import and export in Canada. She is well versed in Canadian and US Customs brokerage trade topics and is currently studying for the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers Certified Customs Specialist designation.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.