Advance Rulings for HS Tariff Classification

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HS (Harmonized System) Tariff classification can be a very complex undertaking for certain goods; as a means of assistance to the importing community, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) publishes advance rulings upon request.

Advance rulings have the following benefits:

  • Rulings ensure that the HS used is deemed correct by the CBSA.
  • Advance rulings provide certainty to the importer as to how goods are to be classified.
  • The ruling is binding until it is revoked or amended.

For information on the importance of proper HS classification of goods see the fact sheet: Harmonized System (HS) Compliance

Ruling Request Details

To submit a request for an advance ruling on a product, a request must be made in writing including various details enabling CBSA to make a determination; this could include:

  • The main ports of entry through which the goods will be imported;
  • A statement noting whether the item is, or has been, the subject of a verification of tariff classification, an administrative review or appeal, a judicial or quasi-judicial review, a request for a national customs ruling or other advice, or a request for an advance ruling;
  • Whether the goods have previously been imported into Canada;
  • A full description of the goods, including trade names, or commercial, common or technical designations;
  • The composition and anticipated use of the goods;
  • The process by which the goods are manufactured;
  • Manufacturer’s product literature; drawings, schematics and/or photographs;
  • Each request should be limited to a single product;
  • The tariff classification you consider appropriate and your rationale.


What you can expect

Once CBSA has received your request and the necessary information, the standard processing time is within 120 calendar days and the ruling issued will include:

  • The HS tariff classification number, the reasons why it was selected; and an advance ruling number.

Once issued, advance rulings are in effect from the date of issue as long as the ruling is not modified, cancelled or reversed. Once the ruling is in effect, importers should apply advance rulings to all relevant importations.


Reasons for CBSA declining a ruling

There are situations where the CBSA will not issue a ruling. For example:

  • The issue involves a matter that is before the courts;
  • There is a re-determination on identical goods;
  • It is not possible to determine all the material facts;
  • The request is hypothetical;
  • The request involves proposed or draft legislation; or
  • The goods are subject to verification.

If your request is not accepted, CBSA will give you its reasons in writing.


The Take-Away

If your product is complex or easily misunderstood, advance rulings can be a benefit, they provide certainty to importers as to how goods are to be classified and can save time, resources and capital spent justifying an HS in an audit or reassessment.


To access more information, please contact a BILSI representative at (905) 606-2222, or at


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