Advance Rulings for Tariff Classification

To help the importing community determine the proper tariff classification of goods, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) publishes advance rulings.

These rulings, issued under paragraph 43.1(1)(c) of the Customs Act, provide information on the importation of particular goods, including their 10-digit tariff classification number under the Canadian Customs Tariff.

For information on the importance of proper classification of goods see the Harmonized System (HS) Compliance fact sheet.

Benefits of an advance ruling

Tariff classification can be very complex for certain goods. The advance ruling ensures that the tariff classification number used is deemed correct by the CBSA. The ruling is binding until it is revoked or amended.

The advance ruling provides certainty to the importer, or his or her representative, as to how goods are to be classified and thereby facilitates the documentation requirements for clearing goods at the border.

Who can request an advance ruling

  • An importer in Canada;
  • A non-resident exporter;
  • A non-resident producer of the goods in question; or
  • A person who is authorized to account for the imported goods in question, e.g. a customs broker (in accordance with paragraph 32(6)(a) or subsection 32(7) of the Customs Act -- see Memorandum D1-6-1, Authority to Act as Agent)

How to request an advance ruling

Drafting the request

To submit a request for an advance ruling on a product, you must write a letter, in English or French, that includes the following information:

  • your name and address;
  • your business number (if applicable);
  • a statement that you are the importer, exporter, producer or authorized representative;
  • the name and telephone number of a contact person who has full knowledge of the request;
  • the principal ports of entry through which the goods will be imported;
  • a statement noting whether the item is, or has been, the subject of a verification of tariff classification, an administrative review or appeal, a judicial or quasi-judicial review, a request for a national customs ruling or other advice, or a request for an advance ruling;
  • whether the goods have previously been imported into Canada;
  • a full description of the goods, including trade names, or their commercial, common or technical designation;
  • the composition of the goods;
  • the process by which the goods are manufactured;
  • a description of the packaging;
  • the anticipated use of the goods; and
  • the tariff classification you consider appropriate and your rationale.

If possible submit the following information:

  • the manufacturer's product literature;
  • drawings and/or photographs;
  • schematics.

A list of requirements is provided in Memorandum D11-11-3, Advance Rulings for Tariff Classification, Appendix A.

Submitting the request

Once you have drafted the letter, please ensure that it meets these requirements:

  • it is signed by the client or an authorized representative;
  • it is marked "Attention: Tariff Classification Advance Ruling Request"; and
  • it is delivered or sent by mail to a client services regional office (addresses are listed in Memorandum D11-11-3, Appendix B).

Each request should be limited to a single product; however, you may submit more than one request to the CBSA at a time.

What you can expect

Once the CBSA has received your request and all the necessary information, the standard processing time is within 120 calendar days. The CBSA aims to issue rulings within a shorter period.

If additional information is required, the CBSA will notify you in writing, and you will be given a period of 30 calendar days to provide the required information.

The CBSA will issue an advance ruling that will include the following:

  • the tariff classification number and the reasons why it was selected; and
  • an advance ruling number.

Enter the advance ruling number on the following documents to ensure you benefit from the advance ruling at the time your goods are imported:

  • on the Form CI1, Canada Customs Invoice;
  • on the commercial invoice;
  • in the "description" field of Form B3, Canada Customs Coding Form; and
  • in the "input ruling reference number" field (KI60) for CADEX (Customs Automated Data Exchange) participants.

However, there are situations where the CBSA will not issue a ruling. For example:

  • the issue involves a matter that is before the courts;
  • there is a re-determination on identical goods;
  • it is not possible to determine all the material facts;
  • the request is hypothetical;
  • there are multiple goods on the request;
  • the goods have already been imported and the importation will not continue;
  • the request involves proposed or draft legislation; or
  • the goods are subject to a verification.

If your request is not accepted, the CBSA will give you its reasons in writing.

Advance rulings are in effect from the date of issue as long as the ruling is not modified, cancelled or reversed.

Once the ruling is in effect, importers should apply advance rulings to all relevant importations.

Disputing an advance ruling

If you disagree with the classification number that is applied to your goods, you have the right to dispute it under subsection 60(2) of the Customs Act. You must take the following steps:

  • you must write a letter that provides arguments to support the dispute;
  • the letter must be sent within 90 days of the effective date of the ruling; and
  • the letter must be sent to the appropriate regional recourse office (see Memorandum D11-11-3, Appendix B, for more information).