What Are the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and Harmonized System?

Canada and the United States share quite a lengthy international border, which is probably why there is so much travel and commerce between two countries.  The shared border is pretty easy to cross, particularly if your purpose is travel. If you wanted to move from one country to the other, however, the process for crossing the border is a little more complicated.

Saying that, it is important to also remind that the process is intended to ensure that this relocation—or immigration, essentially—is legal, not to deter people from moving.  In addition, the immigration or relocation process is intended to ensure that people pay appropriate taxes and tariffs.

Tariffs are just taxes assigned to various classes of goods and are assessed in order to discourage improper international trade and to encourage domestic commercial success.


When you move from the United States to Canada, you will have to pay Clearit Canadian importing fees according to something called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (or Harmonized System). The World Customs Organization describes the HS as a means to classify and define the consumer goods which are most commonly traded across international borders.  Each of these goods has its own HS Code which corresponds to a fee on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule


When you bring your belongings with you to Canada, you are essentially importing goods.  This means your things are subject to various HS and HTS code fees in the same way that a company’s products might be.  

An HS Code has six digits; an HTS Code has between 7 and 10 digits.  In an HTS Code, (in the US), the first two digits describe the type of product (known as a chapter); the second two digits correspond to the product classification (known as a heading); the third pair of numbers describe any subheading.  

Here is an example:  0901.21.0010

First pair of digits:  09—coffee or tea

Second pair of digits:  01—how the product is processed through the HTS (roasted, not “whole”)

Third pair of digits: 21—sub-heading of “not decaffeinated”

Fourth pair of digits:  00—sub-heading for “certified organic”

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