Upcoming changes to the Harmonized System

April 13, 2016 - Tags: Import Export

If you import or export goods as part of your business, you should be aware of upcoming changes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS). These changes are expected to come into force on January 1, 2017. HS codes form the root of the Canadian Customs Tariff, which you must use when reporting imports and exports on your Canadian customs declarations.

You can refer to the handy HS Correlation Tables in advance as a quick guide to the proposed changes in codes, but keep in mind that they do not have legal status. The Correlation Tables, which compare the 2012 and the 2017 versions of the HS Nomenclature, can be subject to further amendments.

The newest revision includes 234 sets of amendments, the majority of which relate to fish and fishery products. Other amendments have been made in the pharmaceutical and health sciences fields. The modifications will allow for the monitoring of more varied economic trends and should improve the quality and precision of trade data.

Make sure you, or your broker, apply the correct codes when describing your products for shipping purposes. As an importer or exporter, you can use the Harmonized System codes to determine the rate of duty that you or your trade partners must pay. Because Customs departments in participating countries all over the world use the same references to classify products and apply the appropriate tariff rates, you and your trade partners will be referring to the same codes. This is also handy if your business operates out of more than one country.

Remember, you are responsible for accurate classification, as HS compliance helps avoid delays in the release of goods. Non-compliance can result in the suspension of privileges and in monetary penalties.

Refer to Canada Border Services Agency for more information on the Canadian Customs Tariff. Our section on importing regulations may also provide some helpful guidelines.

Date modified: