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Upcoming changes to the Harmonized System

December 22, 2011 - Tags: Export, Import

Istock 000002278170xsmallIf you import or export goods as part of your business, you should be aware of the upcoming changes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS). Starting on January 1, 2012, you will have to use updated product codes from the accepted HS Nomenclature 2012 amendments.

You may also wish to refer to the handy Harmonized System Correlation Tables (link no longer available) as a quick guide to the changes in codes, but keep in mind that they do not have legal status. The Correlation Tables, which compare the 2007 and 2012 versions of the HS Nomenclature, might be subject to further amendments.

Major features of the 2012 amendments are based on environmental and social issues, such as food security. The modifications will allow for the monitoring of more varied economic trends and should improve the quality and precision of trade data. Some of the goods that are now identified separately include certain species of fish and crustaceans, certain edible vegetables, roots and tubers, some chemicals controlled under the Rotterdam Convention and some ozone-depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol. There are also some deletions due to the decrease in trade of certain products.

Make sure you apply the correct codes when you describe your products for shipping purposes. As an importer or exporter, you can use the Harmonized System codes to determine the rate of duty that you or your trade partners must pay. Because Customs departments in participating countries all over the world use the same references to classify products and apply the appropriate tariff rates, you and your trade partners will be referring to the same codes. This is also handy if your business operates out of more than one country.

Remember, you are responsible for accurate classification, as HS compliance helps avoid delays in the release of goods. Non-compliance can result in the suspension of privileges and in monetary penalties.

Refer to Canada Border Services Agency for more information on the Canadian Customs Tariff. Our section on Importing regulations may also provide some helpful guidelines.

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