Assigning an HS Code
Summary of Assigning Harmonization Codes
- classiﬁcation is the process of determining each segment of the tariﬀ classiﬁcation in a speciﬁc order;
- the ﬁrst two digits of the tariﬀ classiﬁcation are the chapter;
- the third and fourth digits, together with the chapter, make up the heading; the ﬁfth and sixth digits, together with the heading, make up the subheading; the subheading, plus two additional digits, make up the tariﬀ item;
- a complete tariﬀ classiﬁcation number consists of a ten-digit number;
- the last two digits are for statistical purposes; subheadings can be preceded by one or two dashes; tariﬀ items are preceded by three or four dashes;
- tariﬀ classiﬁcations are preceded by ﬁve or six dashes;
- subheadings with one dash can only be compared to other subheadings with one dash; subheadings with two dashes can only be compared to other subheadings with two dashes; tariﬀ items with three dashes can only be compared to other tariﬀ items with three dashes; tariﬀ items with four dashes can only be compared to other tariﬀ items with four dashes;
- tariﬀ classiﬁcations with ﬁve dashes can only be compared to other tariﬀ classiﬁcations with ﬁve dashes; and.
- tariﬀ classiﬁcations with six dashes can only be compared to other tariﬀ classiﬁcations with six dashes.
Within the Harmonized System, goods are classiﬁed numerically in a hierarchical manner.
Hierarchical means that the goods in the tariﬀ are ranked, that is, they are above, below, or at the same level as other items. When you are classifying goods, you must do so in order by ﬁrst establishing the chapter, then the heading, the subheading, the tariﬀ item, and ﬁnally the tariﬀ classiﬁcation.
As well, it’s important to know that the least processed goods are found in the earlier sections and chapters of the Customs Tariﬀ and the more complex goods are found towards the back.
There are twenty-one sections in the Customs Tariﬀ, listed in Roman numerals from I to XXI. These sections are further divided into ninety-nine chapters. Each section provides a broad topic with the chapters further deﬁning the topic. For example, Section I covers live animals and animal products, while Chapter 1 covers live animals and Chapter 2 covers meat and edible meat oﬀal. Section titles are only intended as a reference tool.
When using the CBSA online Customs Tariﬀ, the PDF formats reﬂect the Customs Tariﬀ in print copy. Whenever possible, use the PDF, rather than the HTML version.
A complete HS classiﬁcation consists of a ten-digit number, and looks like this:
This example refers to Brazil nuts (shelled), and the number is broken down in the following manner:
Chapter (ﬁrst 2 digits) = 08
Heading (ﬁrst 4 digits) = 08.01
Subheading (ﬁrst 6 digits) = 0801.22 Tariﬀ Item (ﬁrst 8 digits) = 0801.22.00
Classiﬁcation Number (all ten digits) = 0801.22.00.00
Note: Chapter 8 is located in Section II, Vegetable Products. The section number does not form any part of the tariﬀ classiﬁcation number; however, there are often section notes which should be reviewed.
The ﬁrst two digits of the complete HS classiﬁcation number are the chapter. For example, tariﬀ classiﬁcation number 1504.10.10.10 is in Chapter 15. It is important to remember that each chapter contains notes that must be reviewed.
The ﬁrst four digits of a complete HS classiﬁcation number are the heading; 08.01 is an example. The ﬁrst two digits, 08, indicate the chapter. The last two digits, 01, indicate where to ﬁnd the heading in the chapter. The heading example below tells us that coconuts, brazil nuts and cashews all have the same heading if they are fresh or dried, and whether or not they are shelled or peeled.
08.01 Coconuts, Brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled.
Note: When a heading is used on its own, it is presented as 08.01 (a period is added after the chapter number).
The ﬁrst six digits of the tariﬀ classiﬁcation are the same for all countries adhering to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. Each six-digit subheading includes text that is preceded by either one or two dashes. Subheadings further describe the heading. Information in any subheading relates only to the goods in its heading.
Have a look at the subheadings beneath heading 06.01. These are one-dash subheadings, since they are each preceded by one dash.
06.01 Bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots, corms, crowns and rhizomes, dormant, in growth or in ﬂower; chicory plants
and roots other than roots of heading 12.12.
- Bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots, corms, crowns and rhizomes, dormant
- Bulbs, tubers, tuberous roots, corms, crowns and rhizomes, in growth or in ﬂower; chicory plants and roots
Since they are each preceded by one dash, these two subheadings may only be compared to each other. The goods being classiﬁed must ﬁt into one of these two subheadings, and also into the heading (06.01). Here is another example of one-dash subheadings.
27.08 Pitch and pitch coke, obtained from coal tar or from other mineral tars.
- Pitch coke
In this example, pitch and pitch coke are one-dash subheadings that fall under the heading 27.08.