Tariff Classification of Certain Flat Water Sprint Racing Canoes and Kayaks Under Tariff Item 8903.99.10
Memorandum D10-14-54

ISSN 2369-2391

Ottawa, January 6, 2016

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In Brief

The editing revisions made in this memorandum do not affect or change any of the existing policies or procedures.

This memorandum explains the Canada Border Services Agency's policy concerning the tariff classification of certain flatwater sprint racing canoes and kayaks under tariff item 8903.99.10 of the Customs Tariff.


Customs Tariff, Heading 89.03

Guidelines and General Information

Definitions and Design Characteristics

1. Flatwater sprint racing, which is also referred to by the International Olympic Committee as "canoe/kayak flatwater", is one of the canoeing disciplines that are featured in the Summer Olympics.

2. A very limited range of flatwater sprint racing canoes and kayaks may be considered racing shells under tariff item 8903.99.10.

3. Flatwater sprint racing canoes or kayaks have a very narrow (often disproportionately long) and extremely unstable shell that is designed to skim the surface of the water. The beam or width of such shells is barely wider than the hips of the paddler, and the very long and narrow shape of the shells reduces drag. These shells are not intended for any condition other than flatwater (calm waters).

4. The hulls of these shells are very thin and light, which reduces resistance at high speed and only creates relatively small waves in the water. The term "shell" is derived from the relative thinness (3.18 mm to 6.36 mm) of the hull.

5. Most hulls are made of composite materials such as carbon fibre, fibreglass, epoxy resin or aramid fibre (e.g. Kevlar).

6. Hulls are characterized by their "stiffness" (i.e. lack of bending). This means that none of the force exerted by the paddler is wasted in twisting the boat.

7. The section and longitudinal lines of the hull of canoes and kayaks must not be concave when measured horizontally and vertically. The measurement is done with a straightedge in a vertical and a horizontal plane. In other words, not in a diagonal plane.

8. Canoe hulls must be built symmetrically upon the axis of their length. This means that the left side must be the mirror image of the right side when viewed along the longitudinal axis.

9. The deck construction cannot be higher at any horizontal point than the highest point of the front edge of the first cockpit.

10. No parts of the shell, including the seat and footrest, can have moving parts that can be used to help propel the boat.

11. The paddler sits in a kayak. In a canoe, the paddler kneels on one knee. Neither type of shell can be operated in a sit-on position (astride) as in the case of a surf ski.

12. Kayaks have a steering rudder or fin that the (foremost) paddler operates with his or her feet. Canoes are not permitted to have steering rudders or any other type of steering apparatus.

International Canoe Federation Specifications

13. The shells that are recognized by the International Canoe Federation for Olympic and international competitions are the following: K1, K2, K4, C1, C2 and C4, where the number indicates the number of paddlers, "K" stands for kayak and "C" for Canadian or canoe, depending on the location.

14. The maximum length and minimum weight requirements may be found in the International Canoe Federation Canoe Sprint Competition Rules.

15. C1 and C2 canoes can be entirely open. The minimum length of the opening is 280 cm and the edge of the side of the shell at the gunwale can extend a maximum 5 cm into the shell along the defined opening. The shell can have a maximum of three strengthening bars with a width of a maximum of 7 cm each.

16. C4 canoes can be entirely open. The minimum length of the opening is 390 cm and the edge of the side of the shell at the gunwale can extend a maximum 6 cm into the shell along the defined opening. The shell can have a maximum of four strengthening bars with a width of a maximum of 7 cm each.

17. The gunwale is the top section on the sides of a shell that runs along the sides of the crew section where the paddlers are located.

Tariff Classification Policy

18. Only canoes and kayaks that fall under the preceding definitions and design characteristics used exclusively in Olympic and other international flatwater sprint racing competitions can be classified under tariff item 8903.99.10 as racing shells.

19. All other types of canoes and kayaks are not considered to be racing shells under tariff item 8903.99.10.

Additional Information

20. For certainty regarding the tariff classification of a product, importers may request an advance ruling. Details on how to make such a request are found in Memorandum D11-11-3, Advance Rulings for Tariff Classification.

21. For more information, within Canada call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999. From outside Canada call 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064. Long distance charges will apply. Agents are available Monday to Friday (08:00 – 16:00 local time / except holidays). TTY is also available within Canada: 1-866-335-3237.


Issuing office:
Tariff Policy Division
Trade and Anti-dumping Programs Directorate
Programs Branch
Headquarters file:
Legislative references:
Customs Tariff
Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Other references:
D10-14-49, D11-11-3
Superseded memorandum D:
D10-14-54 dated May 9, 2008
Date modified: