What is a tariff classification and where can I find it?

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Customs classification, also known as an ‘HS code’, is a 10-digit number that identifies the product you are importing (often to a very specific degree). It is essential for the following reasons:

  • identifying admissible and inadmissible goods
  • calculating duty-rates
  • statistical record-keeping

Canada’s tariff can be found on the CBSA’s website, however Border Bee strongly recommends contacting a customs broker for assisting in classifying your products for new importers.

Can I self-clear my shipment?

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Yes, importers can always opt to self-clear their shipments. However, the process and ease will vary depending on the mode and location of the shipment–please take note of the following before opting to self-clear:


  • location of the goods: you must report to the Customs office nearest to where your goods are being held in order to self-clear. In certain cases, the Customs office may be located hundreds of kilometres away. As transporters are under no obligation to manifest a shipment closer to its final destination
  • time: storage fees will start on most importations as soon as 48 hours after the goods arrive. For air and ocean freight, these fees can be extremely high. We strongly recommend
  • documents: more than just your invoice will be needed to release the shipment; you will also require an arrival notice or manifest from your transporter
  • in bond fees: many transporters will charge an in bond if your shipment is not released by your agent at the border; these fees ($40) are often higher than the service fees charged by customs brokers to release freight.
  • classification: customs may obligate you to hire a customs agent if you are importing a variety of items without knowledge of the applicable classification codes.

that’s it! we recommend self-clearing when items imported include personal effects (including vehicles) but in most other instances is not efficient unless one is located near the specified customs office.


Ecommerce, Customs and You provides answers to your questions on importing goods, written by the Border Bee staff.

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