Being a Canadian has many perks. We have free healthcare, we live in a democratic, society, Drake, the list goes on. But one thing about living in the Great North has made many a sneakerhead consider uprooting their lives to move far far away — duty taxes. There is nothing more frustrating than finding that steal on eBay, copping for well-below market value, and then being hit with a fat duty charge when the package is at your door. I recently made a purchase from StockX (read about that experience HERE), and knew that I was going to have to pay some extra money once my package hit Canadian Customs, but I knew that there was a work-around to save some cash. This article is going to help you save some of your hard earned money, and teach you about the magical world of self-clearing your package.
First and foremost, what are duty taxes? Duties (also called customs), are a tariff that the government of Canada charges you for importing goods from foreign counties. The general rule of thumb is a 30% tax on top of your purchase, but it does fluctuate here and there. Everyone, from multi-million dollar corporations down to broke boys like myself are subject to paying these fees. In my “Buying from GOAT as a Canadian” article, I broke down how devastating these fees can really be, so this article will give you a step by step on how to avoid some of (not all) of these tariffs.
When you make these purchases online and have them shipped, the carrier (we’re going to use UPS as the example) takes care of clearing your package through customs, and then has you reimburse them once you receive your package. The issue here is that the carrier will also charge you a “brokerage fee” for this “service”, which will add a hefty bill on top of the already-steep duty charge. For example, the total bill from UPS on my latest package was $42.00, but of that, the brokerage fee was $11.00 (25%!!!). So in a nutshell, self-clearing essentially helps you avoid these brokerage charges, and pay the duties directly to the Government by yourself, and saving you lots and lots of money.
Once your package has been shipped, you will receive an email with your tracking info. If your package has incurred any duties, you will receive a second email notifying you of this. You can choose to pay this online (don’t), but these snakes don’t even tell you that you can clear the package yourself. Once you are notified that your package has a duty fee attached to it, the first step is to give UPS a call and let them know that you would like to clear your package yourself. Of course, they will try to convince you not to do this, but after you have insisted that you’d like to go this route, they will email you the proper documents in order to do so (a commercial invoice). Your package will then be redirected to the UPS warehouse (right beside Pearson airport if you’re in Toronto).
Wait for your tracking information to update, telling you that your package has arrived at your local holding warehouse. With these documents that UPS has emailed to you, along with your photo ID, head over to the CBSA office (also right beside Pearson airport) and let them know you’d like to clear your package. You will pay your duty taxes like the good Canadian citizen that you are, and the CBSA will stamp your commercial receipt, hereby releasing your package from UPS.
Now that you have that very special stamp, head on over to the UPS warehouse (a whopping 8 minute drive), and present them with the documents you received from the CBSA. You will now be able to sign for your package and take it home with you.
Self-clearing is a great tool to use if you are in close proximity to the airport and you have the ability to drive around and run through all these steps. In truth, it would have probably been easier for me to just pay the extra $11.00 and let UPS ship these to my doorstep, but for the sake of this article I chose to go through the whole process. A 25% fee is absurd, and just imagine if my duty taxes were $200.00 instead of the ultimate $30.00 that I had to pay. I hope you found this helpful, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to DM me on Instagram at @LDoggyStyles.