Clearing Your Parcel with Customs: A Comprehensive Guide to Self-Clearance

If you have received this form, congratulations! You're heading in the right direction!

Border Bee often receives inquiries from importers who are interested in self-clearing their packages. They want to avoid the exorbitant brokerage fees charged by courier companies, which sometimes exceed the actual cost of the product. Border Bee offers an affordable and convenient alternative to paying these high rates without even having to leave your home. Simply click here to learn more.

If you got this form, you're on the right track!

However, if you're feeling adventurous and would like to self-clear your package, follow these instructions:

How can I self-clear?

If your goods have arrived at a FedEx, UPS, or DHL facility in Canada, you have the option to self-clear them by gathering some documents and paying a visit to your local Customs office. Please note that you must wait for the goods to arrive at the warehouse before you can proceed with self-clearance. Although the procedures may slightly differ among Customs offices, a knowledgeable Border Services Officer (BSO) will be available to assist you throughout the process.

  • The manifest or waybill: The courier company will provide you with this document, which contains the shipping details of your package. It is crucial to have this document as it allows Customs to identify the contents of the package. You can either request the courier company to send it to you via email or pick up a hard copy from their facility.
  • The invoice: In order for Customs to accurately determine the amount of tax due on your purchase, they need to see your invoice. They may also request proof of payment, such as a receipt, to ensure that you've declared the correct value.
  • Take these documents to the Customs office nearest to the warehouse where your goods are being held. You can find a list of Customs offices here. Some Customs offices have computer programs that allow you to rate your own entry, while others require you to complete Form B15 with the assistance of an agent. Additionally, you will be asked to provide proof of identification. Once you've paid the duties and taxes owed, an agent will stamp your manifest to indicate that it's been released from their control.
  • With the stamped copy of your manifest (also known as the Customs Delivery Authority), proudly return to the courier's facility. Show them the stamped copy, and they will hand over your parcel to you. Some offices may submit an electronic entry on your behalf, which streamlines the release of goods without the need for additional verification.
  • Please note that if you're importing cargo by air, ocean, or highway, it's highly recommended to hire a customs broker for assistance. The process for clearing goods at an inland sufferance warehouse is similar to clearing a courier shipment. You'll need to gather the necessary documents and head to Customs. However, coordinating an ocean or air clearance with a freight forwarder can be quite challenging and may cause unnecessary stress. Furthermore, certain highway carriers are not bonded and cannot bring your goods into the country. This means that your goods might end up stuck on the wrong side of the border unless you're present at the crossing. Other undesirable scenarios include penalties and seizures due to incorrect declarations, overpayment of duties caused by improper classification, and substantial storage fees resulting from clearance delays.

    What if I live far away from a Customs office?

    If you find yourself residing far away from a Customs office, it's advisable to hire a specialized broker who can handle the clearance process on your behalf.

    Can I clear goods for someone else?

    Under certain circumstances, you may be permitted to clear goods for an employer or a relative, provided that you possess written authorization and valid identification. However, it's important to note that you cannot self-clear goods for personal profit unless you are a licensed customs broker.

    Can I self-clear goods carried by USPS/Canada Post?

    For goods shipped by USPS in the United States, they enter the Canadian postal stream where they are cleared by agents of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for a nominal fee. Self-clearance is not an option for these shipments. However, if you believe your declaration to be incorrect, you can apply for a refund at a casual refund center. If you're a business importing goods valued over $2500, please refer to this link for more information.

    Feel free to reach out to us if you have any further questions or require additional assistance. Happy self-clearing!

    Is it true that my package will be returned by the courier if I don't pay their brokerage fee?

    If you encounter cash-on-delivery charges at your doorstep, you have the option to decline the package and choose self-clearance. Alternatively, you can hire a different intermediary to handle the clearance of your parcel at the courier's facility. It is even better to arrange this beforehand, ensuring prompt delivery upon its arrival.

    Can I pre-clear my parcel before it arrives so that it can be conveniently delivered to me on the first attempt?

    No. If you wish to opt for self-clearance, it is mandatory for you to personally present yourself to the Customs authorities.

    Am I allowed to self-clear for my business?

    Absolutely. However, keep in mind that if you are importing for business purposes, you must be registered with the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) to proceed. To save time, you can contact them in advance at 800-959-5525, or a Border Services Officer will assist you in activating your business number.

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