What in the Heck are HS Codes; and Why Are They Important?!

When you live in the United States and visit Canada, getting across the border is pretty easy. It is typically easier to go from the US to Canada than the other way around.  Regardless, traveling to Canada can be quite a stellar road trip; but if you are trying to move from the US to Canada, that is a different story entirely.

For one, when you move from the United States to the fine country of Canada, you might be subject to paying fees according to something called the Harmonized System (HS).  This is what is known as a “Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)” as described by the World Customs Organization (WCO) to help classify and define goods commonly and regularly traded across international borders.  Most of these goods are assigned according to HS Codes that correspond with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the importing country.


In essence, when you import to Canada with Clearit, you can easily distinguish between HS Codes and HTS Codes.  The basic difference between the two is how many digits are in each type of code. Essentially, HS Code has six digits.  The HTS Code, on the other hand, can have anywhere from 7 to 10 digits.  Furthermore, the HTS Code will also have a unique number, following the sixth digit, which defines the products country of origin.

As an example, an HTS code in the United States might consist of two digits which determine the chapter (a type of product) followed by a pair of numbers which make up the heading (product type classification). The third pair of numbers, then, categorize the sub-heading.  Altogether, then, this makes up a product’s HS code.  Alsok you can add more subheadings to the listing, as per required.

An Example:

Here is an example of an HTS Code: 0901.21.0010.

In this code, the first two numbers signify coffee and tea (09). The second pair of numbers tell how the product is processed through the system.  The 01, in this case, represents that this coffee has been roasted (and is not, for example, still a “whole food” in its husks and skins).  The third pair, then, (the 00), represents that this particularly coffee has not been decaffeinated. Finally, the fourth pair of numbers signifies that the produce (coffee) has been certified as organic.

Related Articles