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Guide to tariff classification for Canadian imports: How to read tariff classification numbers

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Tariff classification numbering system

Every chapter of the HS is divided by a numbering system.


9507.90.10.00 Tariff classification number
9507 Heading (International)
9507.90 Sub-heading (International)
9507.90.10 Tariff item (Canadian)
9507.90.10.00 Statistical suffix (Canadian)

All 10 digits combine to form the complete classification number.

Headings (first 4 digits)

Headings include goods that have been grouped together, creating a more specific description of those that belong in a chapter.

The first 2 digits indicate the chapter in which the heading is located.

The last 2 digits indicate the position of the heading in that chapter.


Tariff item Description of goods
01.03 Live swine
0103.10.00 ‒Pure-bred breeding animals

The 01 in 01.03 represents the chapter number, in this case Chapter 1, which covers live animals. The 03 means that it is the third heading of Chapter 1. Therefore, the heading for this tariff classification is 01.03.

Subheadings (digits 5 and 6)

Headings may divide further into subheadings to provide more details about the goods they cover.

The first 6 digits, the subheading, are common across all countries that use the HS to classify goods.

The hierarchy of subheadings follows 4 principles:

  • subheadings can't include goods that are not part of the heading text
  • subheadings must account for all of the goods described in a heading
  • when classifying goods, only compare subheadings within the same heading
  • each of the subdivisions at the same level in the hierarchy must be mutually exclusive

First level subheadings

There are 2 levels of subheadings. First level, or 1-dash subheadings, are identified by the fifth digit as a number from 1 to 9 and the sixth digit as a 0. A single dash (-) comes before the descriptions of goods at this level to make it easier to follow the hierarchal structure of the subheadings.


Tariff item Description of goods
08.04 Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes and mangosteens, fresh or dried
0804.10.00 ‒Dates
0804.20.00 ‒Figs
0804.30.00 ‒Pineapples
0804.40.00 ‒Avocados
0804.50.00 ‒Guavas, mangoes and mangosteens

The heading for this tariff classification is 08.04. All the goods listed after the heading are included in one of the subheadings. Subheading 10 is for dates, subheading 20 for figs, subheading 30 for pineapples and so on.

In cases such as heading 08.05, citrus fruit, there are so many varieties, it would be impractical to create a subheading for each one. Instead, there are subdivisions, and in several subdivisions, more than one variety.

These subdivisions follow the hierarchical structure of the nomenclature in that:

  • each subheading is for a particular citrus fruit included in the heading's text
  • for citrus fruits not named there is an "other" category in the last subheading
  • the subheadings are mutually exclusive because none of them are for the same goods


Tariff item Description of goods
08.05 Citrus fruit, fresh or dried
0805.10 ‒Oranges
‒Mandarins (including tangerines and satsumas); clementines, wilkings and similar citrus hybrids
0805.21.00 00 ‒ ‒Mandarins (including tangerines and satsumas)
0805.22.00 00 ‒ ‒Clementines
0805.29.00 00 ‒ ‒Other
0805.40 ‒Grapefruit, including pomelos
0805.50 ‒Lemons (Citrus limon, Citrus limonum) and limes (Citrus aurantifolia, Citrus latifolia)
0805.90 ‒Other

Second level subheadings

Second level subheadings are those in which both the fifth and sixth digits are numbered from 1 to 9. A second level subheading is a further subdivision of the first level subheading and the description of the good is preceded by 2 dashes (--).


Tariff item Description of goods

Starches; inulin


1108.11 ‒ ‒Wheat starch
1108.12 ‒ ‒Maize (corn) starch
1108.13 ‒ ‒Potato starch
1108.14 ‒ ‒Manioc (cassava) starch
1108.19 ‒ ‒Other starches
1108.20.00 00 ‒Inulin

All of the second level, or 2-dash subheadings, are subordinate to the 1-dash subheading that comes right before them.

Starches, a 1-dash subheading, can include all the different types of starches listed after it.

The word "other" in subheading 1108.19 means that all the starches not named in the previous subheadings can be classified there.

These "other" subdivisions are sometimes referred to as residual subheadings.

Tariff items (digits 7 and 8)

Digits 7 and 8 are subdivisions for specific goods. These subdivisions serve to protect Canadian industries and economic interests.

Finance Canada added the tariff item to give more details about specific goods under the subheading level of the HS.


Tariff item Description of goods Most favoured nation tariff

Slide fasteners and parts thereof.

  • ‒Slide fasteners:
9607.11 ‒ ‒Fitted with chain scoops of base metal  
9607.11.10 00 ‒ ‒ ‒Air-tight and watertight Free
9607.11.90 00 ‒ ‒ ‒Other 10%

First level tariff subdivisions exist because different rates of duty apply to goods of heading 96.07.

Digit 7 and 8 represent the first level tariff subdivision. Digit 7 is a number from 1 to 9, and digit 8 is a 0.

They are also identified by three dashes (‒ ‒ ‒), which come before the description of the good.

Based on the tariff provisions for the slide fasteners, those that are fitted with chain scoops of base metal are duty-free only if they are air-tight and watertight. Otherwise, the rate of duty is 10%.

Statistical suffixes (digits 9 and 10)

Digits 9 and 10 are the last subdivision, used for detailed descriptions of goods. They include details such as size, colour, component material, etc. for Statistics Canada's purposes.

This final subdivision creates what is known as the classification number.


Tariff item Description of goods
8903.91.00 ‒ ‒Sailboats, with or without auxiliary motor
‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒With auxiliary motor:
11 ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒Of a length not exceeding 9.2 metres
12 ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒Of a length exceeding 9.2 metres
‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒Without auxiliary motor:
21 ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒Of a length not exceeding 4 metres
22 ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒Of a length exceeding 4 m but not exceeding 6.5 metres

The Canadian Customs Tariff distinguishes between sailboats with or without an auxiliary motor. But this did not provide enough details for statistical purposes. As a result, tariff item 8903.91.00 was further subdivided to include the length of a sailboat.

Summary of the tariff classification number

Components of a 10-digit tariff classification number
(Example: Brochures 4901.99.00.10)
4901. 99. 00. 10
HS heading HS subheading Tariff item Statistical suffix
(Classification number)
Common to all countries using the Harmonized System Used in Canada
Subheading Digits 5 and 6
1 dash ‒  First level of subdivision
2 dashes ‒ ‒  Second level of subdivision
Tariff item has 0, 1, 2 or: Digits 7 and 8
3 dashes ‒ ‒ ‒  First level of subdivision
4 dashes ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒  Second level of subdivision
Statistical suffix Digits 9 and 10
5 dashes ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒  First level of subdivision
6 dashes ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ ‒ Second level of subdivision

Related link

Canadian Customs Tariff

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