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Import fees

Learn about import fees and how Zonos calculates them for you.

What import fees are 

Import fees are variable fees that may be applied by brokers, government agencies, customs, and carriers. These fees can change based on many different factors, like the type of good or even the shipping service level that was used on the import.

How to calculate import fees or customs clearance fees 

An import is 39% more likely to be charged a clearance fee than a duty.

The clearance fee causes the landed cost on postal imports to be 73% higher in France, 47% higher in Canada, and 43% higher in the Netherlands than if they were only calculated with duty and tax.

Clearance fees are the most overlooked and costly charge on low-value imports. If not properly adjusted, the retailer could miscalculate the margin and simultaneously disappoint a valuable customer. Zonos Landed Cost, on the other hand, calculates clearance fees by country, carrier, carrier service level, and currency to 217 different territories. View our landed cost guide to learn more about clearance fees and how they are applied to landed cost.

Requirements to calculate import fees with Zonos Landed Cost API 

Zonos Landed Cost calculates the import customs clearance charges when the carrier and service level are provided in the API request.

For a full list of acceptable service levels and codes, see the carrier service levels doc.

Landed cost request

  "shipping": {
    "amount": 14.23,
    "amount_discount": 0,
    "service_level": "ups_express_saver"

Shipment rating feature

If you are using Zonos' Rating API to calculate your shipping costs, then the appropriate amount and service_level will be returned in the rating response, which can then be used in your landed cost request.

Checkout and Quoter use the Shipment rating feature to calculate shipping, which automatically returns the shipping rate with clearance fees included.

Rating object

  "id": "ship_1Ce6vt2eZvKYlo2CrgzPqxaz",
  "amount": {
    "shipping": 23.51,
    "fuel": 29.11,
    "out_of_area": 25.71
  "service_level": "ups_express_saver"

The amount and service_level can be used in the LANDED COST REQUEST.

Fee types

The LANDED COST OBJECT contains the clearance fee charges and details inside the fees schema.

Landed cost object

  "fees": [
      "amount": 19.22,
      "description": "Handling Fee",
      "formula": "22 EUR",
      "item_id": null,
      "note": "An Post Handling Fee",
      "type": "advancement"


amountThe fee in the base currency (typically converted from another currency)
descriptionThe description of the fee by the clearance entity
formulaTypically a set fee amount or percentage
item_idReference to your item ID
noteAdditional information on the fee
typeThe type of fee charged, which is different than the entity’s description of their fee (advancement, brokerage, etc. See “Import clearance fees” table below)

Import clearance fees

There are different types of import or clearance fees Zonos calculates with the Landed Cost product.

The table below lists the fees that may be calculated, which will be displayed under the property: type in the fees schema for the Landed Cost Object response.

additional_tariff_linesMay apply when the line items on a commercial invoice exceed a preset number
advancementCharged by most, if not all, carriers for fronting cash to customs
brokerage_feeThe brokerage firm clears the package, which is common on ground shipments to Canada
cod(Collect on delivery) charged to the importer when sent DDU
countryCharged by the import country
currency_conversionShipping carriers and brokers charge a percentage of the converted amount
ddp_service_feeUPS charges this fee when billing duties and taxes to someone other than the recipient
otherOther non-standard fees charged by the carrier, broker, or customs
zonos_landed_cost_guaranteeZonos' fee for the guarantee of a Landed Cost quote

Additional tariff line items fee


When a commercial invoice exceeds a predetermined amount of line items, Zonos will calculate the additional line item fee. For instance, UPS charges JP¥ 400 per additional tariff line exceeding 5 tariff lines into Japan, and FedEx charges NOK 55 per additional line item beyond 5 entries into Norway.

Advancement fee


Advancement fees are charge by carriers for paying duty and tax to customs on your behalf upon import. Zonos Landed Cost calculates the different advancement fees by the carrier, country, and currency. These fees are charged by the carrier in the destination country. In most cases, the carrier’s duty and tax APIs do not calculate these fees.

Whether you absorb the cost of the duties and taxes or bill your customers for these charges, the duties and taxes will be collected. We recommend collecting these fees at checkout. If you can negotiate a discount on the advancement fee, then it is beneficial to send shipments Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) because the discount typically only applies to the negotiation made with the carrier. If you have a negotiated advancement fee and the shipment is sent DDU (Delivered Duties Unpaid), the consignee will likely get the book rate on the advancement fee.

Brokerage fee


Most international air shipments are not charged a brokerage fee; however, ground shipments to Canada, such as Standard with UPS and Ground with FedEx, will be charged a brokerage fee for clearance. To learn more about brokerage fees and other fees to Canada, see our blog post on UPS, FedEx and DHL Brokerage Fees to Canada. There are countries where the carrier is not the broker and the broker may charge the carrier a fee for clearance. This fee is charged in addition to the advancement, DDP, or COD fee.

COD fees


Cash on delivery (COD) fees will be charged on almost all DDU shipments (where the duties and taxes are collected from the recipient and not the sender). These are commonly charged by UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the delivery entity for the postal courier.

For example, USPS delivery partners, such as Canada Post or Royal Mail, charge COD fees on all First Class and Priority United States (U.S.) mail that incurs duties and taxes.

In the case of a DDP landed cost calculation by Zonos Landed Cost, COD fees may not be calculated; however, if the landed cost is an estimate to a shopper of what might be charged, then the COD fee will be included.

Country-specific fees


The importing country may have fees assessed on certain shipments. These fees can be assessed for a wide variety of reasons, but usually represent services rendered by various government departments for things such as clearance, approval, inspection, quarantine, processing, etc.

Currency conversion fees


Many carriers will assess a fee for invoicing in a foreign currency. This is most commonly seen on a DDP shipment duty and tax invoice since the duty and tax is assessed in the currency of the destination country but the invoice is sent to the shipper or a third party in a different currency. This currency conversion fee is typically reflected in the exchange rate used by the carrier and is not listed as a separate line item.

Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) service fee


Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) shipments, better described as billing duties and taxes to the shipper, may be charged a fee by the exporting carrier for providing the service to the shipper. This isn't the same charge as a typical import charge, such as an advancement fee, because it’s technically charged by the export carrier rather than the destination carrier.

For example, UPS United States charges 15 USD to bill the shipper or third party as a service.

Other fees


There are other fees charged by carriers or customs that may be applied to an international shipment.

For example, shipping fees can be applied by government bureaus like the FDA.

To learn more about clearance fees, and what carriers charge them, see our total landed cost guide.

Zonos Landed Cost Guarantee


Many merchants take advantage of the Zonos Landed Cost Guarantee to simplify business processes and create peace of mind. With this service, Zonos will guarantee the landed cost calculations and handle all of the duty and tax payment and reconciliation. An administrative fee for this service is built into the landed cost calculations.

Customizing carrier import fees

Some clearance fees are negotiable, especially with UPS, FedEx, and DHL. If you have negotiated the DDP fee with UPS or FedEx, you can modify the fees inside the Zonos Dashboard in SettingsShipping rates so that they are reflected correctly in your calculations. Customization is also available for DDP, advancement, and brokerage fees.

Set custom shipping rates in Zonos Dashboard.

Next steps

You now have an understanding of how Zonos Landed Cost is truly a landed cost calculation, not just a duty and tax calculation. Next, you may want to learn more about accuracy, clearance fees, or the shipment rating and how to take the next step in your global evolution.

  • Accuracy - Learn about Landed Cost accuracy.
  • Landed Cost - Get an overview of the Zonos Landed Cost product and how it works.
  • Landed Cost API - Dive into our API docs on our Landed Cost product.

Related Decoder Guides


How accurate is Zonos at calculating customs clearance fees?

Our Decoder team sources clearance fees directly from carriers, delivery providers, and brokers, as well as their invoices. Zonos is determined to give you the most accurate landing cost on the market. However, because of the constant change of international rates and policies, we do recommend using the Zonos Landed Cost Guarantee for complete peace of mind.

What if my currency does not match the currency of the fees?

The Landed Cost API and other Zonos products take into account exchange rates at the time a request was sent. While our calculations are the most accurate on the market, constant fluctuations in currency values mean that there may be a margin for error. We recommend using the Zonos Landed Cost Guarantee to absolve any worry about these small discrepancies.

How up-to-date are your exchange rates?

We fetch an updated exchange rate every two hours. However, the currency conversion rate used at the time of customs clearance will not match a currency conversion rate used at the time of an ecommerce order. Again, the Zonos Landed Cost Guarantee can be used to avoid differences in calculations and billing from your carrier.

How do you calculate customs clearance and import fees?

Import fees can be complicated. They can be applied by brokers, government agencies, customs, and carriers. They can vary based on many different factors, like the type of good or even the shipping service level that was used on the import. Zonos can do the heavy lifting for you when calculating import fees. Zonos Landed Cost, Checkout, and Quoter can all calculate import fees as part of a total landed cost calculation.

Does Zonos Hello calculate clearance import fees?

For current Zonos customers, Hello can be configured to include the most commonly-used carrier and service level to calculate the clearance fee.