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Compliance – providing product information

As goods are imported into Canada, Customs needs to know exactly what the products are in order to determine if other government departments need to be informed, verify if the goods fall under any commodity controls, and to determine the rate of duty to be applied.

A single consistent method for identifying imported commodities, the Harmonized Commidity Description and Coding System (, or tariff classification, is used and maintained by the World Customs Organization. Goods imported into Canada are assigned a 10 digit number which identifies to Customs exactly what the product is.

For example:

Household dishes have a different tariff classification number depending on what they are made of, and in the case of steel, even down to the type of enamel. Household dishes made of:

MaterialAdditional MaterialHS Code


Cast iron enameled


Cast iron not enameled


Stainless steel


Iron or steel enameled




Porcelain or China










Imported seals and gaskets for use as parts for machinery, equipment or vehicles will be classified as parts for the indicated machine or vehicle unless they are made of rubber, and then by the rules of tariff classification they need to be classified as rubber gaskets rather then machinery parts.

Clothing is another area in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System where full descriptions are required.

Clothing items need to specific if the fabric is knit or woven and the gender the item is designed for. Within these categories the tariff classification becomes even more specific. For example, a woman’s shirt is further described as a blouse, t-shirt, turtle neck, etc.

Each of the different tariff classifications may incur a different duty rate so it is very important that the correct classification is chosen. Although there are rules which dictate how items are to be classified, the final selection is sometimes left to interpretation. To be certain your interpretation is the same as the government, you can apply for an Advanced Ruling ( which is a written agreement from Customs accepting a tariff classification for a particular product. A & A can assist you in applying for this ruling, if you would like more information contact us at or call our Compliance Team at 800-663-4270.

It is very important that a correct tariff classification is assigned, so as a client of A & A’s you may from time to time receive communication from A & A looking for more information regarding your products. The reason is simply to ensure the tariff classifications we apply to your products is 100% accurate, eliminating any compliance issues with Customs.

For more information on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Advanced Rulings or the services provided by A & A, contact us at 800-663-4270 or