Canadian Customs Tariff And The Harmonized System

If you are new to importing into Canada you may be wondering what is the Canadian Customs Tariff and what exactly is the Harmonized System?

Canadian Customs Tariff

The Canadian Customs Tariff is an Act enacted by the Canadian Government, which classifies goods and determines the import duty or tariff of a particular item or product.

Canadian Import duties or tariffs are the amount of monies paid to the Canadian Government when importing goods into Canada. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) collects the duties or tariffs on all imported goods.

Tariffs or duties are really taxes paid on imports from a foreign country. It is a form of Government regulation to tax foreign products in order to safeguard the domestic market.

The Canadian Customs Tariff is revised and re-published every year. The Current Tariff can be found here.

Harmonized System

The Harmonized System is an internationally accepted commodity classification system developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO) which is an independent intergovernmental body based in Brussels, Belgium. The WCO includes over 200 member countries. Canada is one of the 200 members and uses the Harmonized System in the Canadian Customs Tariff. 

The Harmonized System comprises more than 5,000 commodity groups; each identified by a six-digit code, arranged in a legal and logical structure. It is supported by well-defined rules to achieve uniform classification by all countries using the System.

Tariff Number Structure

In Canada the tariff classification number consists of 10 digits:

  • The first six digits are standardized with all countries using the international tariff of the Harmonized System of the WCO.
  • The seventh and eighth digits distinguish break-outs for Canadian trade purposes.
  • The last two digits are for statistical purposes.

The Importer’s Responsibilities

In Canada, the Importer (resident or non-resident) is responsible for the reporting and accounting of its imported goods to CBSA. The Importer must accurately describe the quantity and nature of the goods he/she imports and he/she must assign a 10 digit tariff classification number to each product using the Canadian Customs Tariff.

The Importer must also accurately declare the proper value for customs duty.

Based on the country of origin and the country of direct shipment to Canada, the Importer determines the applicable tariff treatment for the imported goods and then accounts for the goods and pays the applicable customs duties, excise duties, excise taxes, goods and services taxes (GST), and other defined duties.

During the import process, the Importer must always be certain that he/she satisfies all the applicable regulatory requirements, statutes, regulations and government requirements that impact imported goods and she/he must also make sure the goods are not prohibited from coming into Canada.

If you are new to importing, it is wise to seek the advice of a compliant customs broker to ensure you have classified your product properly, met all the regulatory requirements for the product and researched whether the product can be applied to a specific trade agreement based on origin.

How You Can Start Importing

If you need assistance importing into Canada or the US for your business, do not hesitate to call Pacific Customs Brokers for all of your customs clearance and freight forwarding needs.

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About Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined Pacific Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

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.