Sunday, 13 March 2011

Part 6: Gathering the Required Documents From UPS

This is part of an ongoing series of posts starting here.

 You need 2 documents to self clear your own shipment via CBSA.

One is called a manifest or cargo control document. I have seen either term used to describe the same document.  The one I received from UPS did not have either term on it but had all the required fields. The UPS form is labeled "SUMMARY SHEET" in the top right hand corner. This is what mine looked like (personal info and the UPS logo redacted):

Mine is also already stamped by the CBSA because I have completed the process. Yours won't be stamped when you get it. The CBSA officer stamps it when you pay the government taxes.

The other document is a commercial invoice. This is a form usually filled out by the shipper with detail and valuation amounts. This is mine, again redacted:

UPS has both of these documents and you need them to fax or email them to you. With only these 2 documents, you can perform the entire process of clearing your shipment via Canada Border Services.

Getting them can be a challenge though.

If you are calling them after using method 1, I would suggest making the call to the UPS brokerage department directly, bypassing the normal agents. I got to them by dialing the main UPS 1-800 number and selecting option 3 which was specific to international shipments and brokerage.

If you are on the phone with them because they called you per method 2, I am not sure who you are talking to but the lady I got was the most difficult obstacle I encountered in my specific experience.

Even at the supervisor level, she would only read me the cargo identifier number and an internal ID and would hear nothing of sending me the documents I needed, insisting that her doing anything even remotely similar to what I requested was simply illegal or somehow beyond the realm of services offered by UPS. I admitted defeat and politely ended the call. You may have better luck but if this happens to you, end the call and call the brokerage department directly like I note above.

If you end up calling the brokerage department in either case, ask them to fax or email you the 2 documents. Once I got to the brokerage department and made my request, they seemed to know what I was talking about and agreed to try to send me what I needed.

I say try because the guy I got on the phone with said he was "entering a request into his system" indicating that I needed this information to be faxed to me. He made it clear that he was making  "no guarantee" that I would get the forms I needed or anything at all for that matter.

This "no guarantee" phrase must have been entered into the log of this shipment because in every call I made to UPS after this one, the person at UPS always made some reference to the fact "no one guaranteed you would get anything..." after reading the notes associated with my tracking number.

You may need to escalate to a supervisor or even end the call and keep calling back until you get someone who understands what you need.

I finally got my documents faxed to me after roughly 2 days of trying and waiting. I could have had them emailed too. Pick the one that is most convenient for you.


This blog is not legal advice. It is a diary of my own experience and research. You cannot avoid paying legal duties and taxes on goods imported into Canada. This is not about avoiding taxes or duties. In fact, part of this process is paying them as required directly to a customs agent. This is about avoiding the UPS brokerage fee which is nothing more than a ridiculously large service charge paid directly to UPS for a service you neither asked for nor necessarily require.

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