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As a Contracting Party to the Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS), Canada is obliged to conform its statistical nomenclature with the Harmonized System. Article 3 of the Convention states in part that “it shall use all the headings and subheadings of the Harmonized System without addition or modification, together with their related numerical codes”. Article 3 goes on to state that a Contracting Party may establish statistical nomenclature subdivisions beyond the level of the Harmonized System, provided that any such subdivision is coded at a level beyond that of the six-digit HS numerical code and additive to it.

This document presents the Canadian Export Classification, prepared by Statistics Canada, which will allow Canada to meet its obligations, under the HS Convention, with respect to export trade statistics.

Commencing on January 1, 1988, Canadian exporters or their agents, will be required to assign an Export HS Number on all export transactions. This manual lists all the possible Export HS Numbers and their accompanying description. (Instructions for the completion of export declarations are to be found in Canada Border Services Agency, Customs D Memoranda 20-1-1).

The Structure of the Canadian Export Classification

The Canadian Export Classification is a structured, hierarchical classification system based on the Harmonized Description and Coding System. The HS Nomenclature is divided into 21 Sections, which in general, group goods produced in the same sector of the economy. For example: Section IV, “Prepared foodstuffs; beverages, spirits and vinegar; tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes” (i.e. agricultural products) and Section VI “Products of the chemical or allied industries” etc. (i.e. chemical products, etc.).

Each Section is comprised of one or more Chapters with the entire Nomenclature being composed of 97 Chapters (Chapter 77 is reserved for possible future use). The Chapters of Sections I to XV (except Section XII) are grouped by Biological Genus (Section I, Chapters 1-5 “Live animals”, “Meat”, “Fish”, “Dairy produce”, etc.) or by the Raw Material from which articles are wholly or mainly made (e.g. Section VIII contains Chapter 41 – “Raw hides and skins”; Chapter 42 – “Articles of leather”, etc.).

In Sections I to XV (except Section XII) the groups of products formed according to their basic material are structured or divided in two ways:

Horizontal - For the groups of products formed according to their basic material there is no apparent hierarchical order (e.g. Chapter 39 – “Plastics and articles thereof”; Chapter 44 – “Wood and articles of wood”; i.e. there is no discernable reason that Plastic should precede Wood.

Vertical - For those Chapters in which goods are grouped by raw material there is, however, a vertical structure in which articles are often classified according to their degree of processing. For example, Chapter 44 contains items such as rough wood, wood roughly squared, and some wooden finished products such as wooden tableware.

Articles may also be classified according to their use or function. This mainly occurs in Section XII and Sections XVI-XXI. For example, Section XVII contains:

Chapter 86 - Railway locomotives, etc.
Chapter 87 - Vehicles other than railway, etc.
Chapter 88 - Aircraft, etc.
Chapter 89 - Ships, etc.

The Canadian Export HS Number is based on the international six digit “root” with an additional 2 digits added for Canadian domestic purposes. For example, Export HS Number 0101.29.10 is divided, with each “component” named as follows:


01 Chapter
01.01 Heading
0101.29 Subheading
0101.29.10 Export HS Number

There are three points which should be noted with respect to the Export HS Number:

  • i) Although the majority of the subheadings in the Canadian Export Classification have no further breakdown for domestic purposes, it is necessary to include “00” in the 7th and 8th digits for consistency purposes.

  • ii) The proper way of writing the Export HS Number is to insert a period between the 4th and 5th digits (separating the heading and subheading) and between the 6th and 7th digits (separating the subheading and the statistical suffix) as in the following example:

  • 0101.29.10

  • iii) There is a correlation between the numbering scheme and the “dashes” which appear before the text. If there is no detail beyond the fifth digit (e.g. the sixth digit is a zero) there is one “dash”. Detail at the sixth digit is shown by two “dashes”. Similarly, detail at the seventh and eighth digits is shown by three and four dashes respectively. This logic of the numbering and dashes facilitates the interpretation of the classification system.


08.02 Other nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled.
  - Almonds:
0802.11 --In shell
0802.12 --Shelled

In this example, it should be noted that subheading 0802.11 (--in shell) relates to almonds, in shell.

Chapter 98: Special Transactions - Trade, Non-Trade

Chapter 98 has been reserved for the classification of certain commercial transactions which are not, for various reasons, classified by commodity in trade statistics as well as certain transactions which do not have an international financial implication or which, for various reasons, are better considered separately from merchandise trade in economic analysis. Some examples of such transactions might be contractors’ outfits, small value shipments (see D20-1-1), settlers’ effects and tourist purchases.

Abbreviations and symbols

A list of abbreviations and symbols which may appear in the text of Export HS Numbers is provided, for your convenience, further in the document.

Units of measure

The Harmonized System is an international classification and, as such, utilizes the metric system to collect quantity information. The actual codes, with their meanings, are listed further in the document.  These codes are extracted from a list developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Each option is represented by a three character alphabetic abbreviation. When completing an export declaration, one must take care to ensure that the quantity information placed in the quantity field corresponds to the unit of measure code required.

In some instances (e.g. Sections XVI and XVII) the treatment of parts and accessories may affect the interpretation of units of number. Whenever finished parts and accessories of a commodity are included with the commodity in a single Export HS Number, the value of the class covers the total value of all shipments of the commodity including parts and accessories, but the unit of number refers only to the number of complete units exported. For example, should the shipment consist only of bona fide “parts” classifiable within a heading having no parts provision, the quantity field should be left blank.


The Harmonized System is international. In order to promote consistency, this system utilizes an extensive series of “Notes” which serve to define the scope, or intent of a particular area of the HS.

There are several types of Notes:

  • i) Legal Notes - These are internationally developed notes which are embodied in the text of the Canadian Export Classification. There are two broad types of Legal Notes - Section Notes, when present, are found at the beginning of certain Sections; and Chapter Notes may be found at the beginning of a Chapter. Both Section and Chapter Notes function to define the scope of their respective areas. For example, a Section or Chapter Note may begin with “This Section (Chapter) does not cover...” which acts as an exclude note. As well, definitions of terms may be provided. Section and Chapter Notes may also include references to the subheading level (Subheading Legal Notes).

  • In reading the Legal Notes, the phrase “Throughout the Nomenclature” (TTN) will be encountered. In general, Legal Notes refer only to a specific Section, Chapter, heading or subheading and cannot be extended beyond these bounds. An exception to this restriction is those notes which are preceded by the phrase “Throughout the Nomenclature”. These references appear only once in the Nomenclature and are not repeated even though they may apply in another Section or Chapter. A list of these references is provided further in the document.

  • ii) Explanatory Notes - These notes represent the opinions of the Customs Co-operation Council on the interpretation and application of the Harmonized System. They are published in four separate volumes and provide a reprint of the Section and Chapter Legal Notes plus general Explanatory Notes to Section, Chapter, heading and certain subheadings.

General rules for the interpretation of the Harmonized System

The Harmonized System is based on six rules which are used to unequivocally classify products to one number or code. For example, situations may arise in which more than one heading, subheading, etc. may appear equally applicable for a given item. The interpretative rules serve to resolve such dilemmas. There are six rules for the interpretation of the HS and three statistical rules for the interpretation of the statistical suffixes. These rules are reprinted further in the document.

Classification of goods

There are seven steps to follow in order to choose the correct Export HS Number under the Canadian Export Classification.

1 Determine the Section and Chapter
2 Compare all headings while reading the applicable Legal Notes
3 Read heading Explanatory Notes
4 Select the proper heading
5 Compare equivalent level subheadings while reading Subheading Notes (Legal and Explanatory)
6 Choose subheading
7 Repeat for the statistical suffix

It is important to remember that, in order to avoid classification errors, all applicable notes should be taken into consideration.

To illustrate the search steps involved, we might use as an example an exportation of dairy calves, weighing 80 kg, which are not pure-bred breeding animals.

  • i) An examination of the “Titles of Sections and Chapters” (in the Table of contents) shows Section I, Chapter 1 to be the most probable Section and Chapter: (Section I – “Live animals; animal products”; Chapter 1 – “Live animals”).

  • ii) A reading of the Note 1 to Section I tells us: “Any reference in this Section to a particular genus or species of an animal, except where the context otherwise requires, includes a reference to the young of that genus or species”. Therefore, young cattle or calves will be included in the heading which provides for bovine animals. Similarly, Note 1(c) of Chapter 1 excludes “Animals of heading No. 95.08” (e.g. animals of “circus, menagerie, or travelling animal shows”).

  • iii) An examination of the headings of this Chapter reveals heading number 01.02 – “Live bovine animals” as the most likely.

  • iv,v) The Explanatory Notes for the heading 01.02 provide further information on the animals included in the heading.

  • vi) The Statistical Note 1 of Chapter 1 explains the expression “Pure-bred breeding animals”, included in subheading 0102.21.

  • vii) Thus, the correct subheading is 0102.29 – “Other”.

  • viii) A repetition of these steps leads us to the Export HS Number 0102.29.11 – “Dairy cattle, weighing less than 90 kg” as the correct code for the exportation of dairy calves weighing 80 kg, which are not pure-bred breeding animals.


In general, parts are classified in the same manner as complete articles. The same seven steps are followed using all of the General Rules of Interpretation, Canadian Rules, Legal Notes and Explanatory Notes.

In a similar fashion to complete articles, the classification of parts is determined by the terms of the headings, Legal Notes and General rules for the interpretation of the Harmonized System, will vary from Section to Section and Chapter to Chapter. As well, there is an important “Throughout the Nomenclature” Note contained in the Section XV Note 2, which refers to “parts of general use”. Consequently, when classifying parts in the HS, one must distinguish between a “part” and “parts of general use”. When a heading (or any other level) states “parts” it never includes “parts of general use”. “Parts of general use” are always classified elsewhere.

Section XVI Note 2 contains three rules for the classification of parts of machines which are not “parts of general use” or provided for in headings of other Chapters. In general, “parts of machines” are classified in the same heading as the machine, if not named or provided for in other headings.

Relation to other classifications

Since the Canadian Export Classification is based on the international 6-digit HS, it is possible to directly relate export statistics, at this level, to import statistics, and, commencing with the annual 1988 data year, domestic production statistics.

There is an especially close relationship between the classifications for exports and domestic production. Both classifications are identical at the 6-digit level. Whenever the same detail (7th and 8th digits) is used in both classifications, it indicates exact comparability between the two, except in the case of some “Other” classes where exact comparability may require consideration of other classification numbers within the subheading to which the “Other” relates.

Units of measure

Throughout this classification, the following codes have been used to identify units of measure.

Abbreviations Definitions
CTM Carat
MTQ Cubic Metre
DZN Dozen
DPR Dozen Pairs
GBQ Gigabecquerel
GRM Gram
GRO Gross
KGM Kilogram
KSD Kilogram Air Dry
KNS Kilogram Named Substance
LTR Litre
LPA Litres of Pure Alcohol
MBQ Megabecquerel
MWH Megawatt Hour
MTR Metre
TNE Metric Tonne
TSD Metric Tonne Air Dry
NMB Number
NAP Pack
PAR Pair
CMK Square Centimetre
MTK Square Metre
MIL Thousand
TMQ 1000 Cubic Metre

Abbreviations and symbols

Abbreviation / symbol Meaning
$ Canadian dollars
% percent
° degrees
°C degrees Celsius
AC alternating current
Al aluminum
Al2O3 aluminum oxide, alumnia, corundum
ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials
Be beryllium
Bq/g becquerels per gram
Ca calcium
CaO calcium oxide
cc cubic centimetres
cg centigrams
cm centimetres
cm² square centimetres
cm³ cubic centimetres
cN/tex centinewtons per tex
Co cobalt
Cr chromium
Cr2O3 chromium (III) oxide
Cu copper
DC direct current
dyne/cm dyne per centimetre
etc. et cetera
Fe iron
Fe2O3 hematite
g grams
g.v.w. gross vehicle weight
g/cm³ grams per cubic centimetre
g/m² grams per square metre
H3BO3 boric acid
Hem-Fir Canadian timber species (western hemlock and amabilis fir) manufactured and marketed together
Hz hertz
INN International Non-proprietary Name
IR infra-red
ISO International Organization for Standardization
K2O potassium oxide
kcal/kg kilocalories per kilogram
kg kilograms
kN kilonewtons
kN/m kilonewtons per metre
kPa kilopascals
kPa.m²/g Mullen burst index
kV kilovolts
kVA kilovolts-amperes
kvar kilovars or kilovolts-amperes-reactive
kW kilowatts
L. Linnaeus (latin)
m metres
m- meta-
square metres
cubic metres
m³/s cubic metres per second
Mg magnesium
MgO magnesium oxide
mm millimetres
Mn manganese
mN millinewtons
mono one or single
MPa megapascals
MW megawatt
n- normal-
N/m newtons per metre (surface tension)
Na2O sodium monoxide
Ni nickel
No. or Nos. number
O oxygen
o- ortho-
p- para-
S serine
S-P-F spruce, pine, fir
Si silicon
SiO2 silica, silicon oxide, silicon dioxide
spp. species plural (latin)
SS statistical suffix
Te tellurium
UV ultra-violet
V volts
VA volt-amperes
var. varietas (latin) = variety
vol volume
W watts
Zn zinc

Throughout the Nomenclature

General rules for the interpretation of the Harmonized System

Classification of goods in the Nomenclature shall be governed by the following principles:

1. The titles of Sections, Chapters and sub-Chapters are provided for ease of reference only; for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes and, provided such headings or Notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions.

2. a)  Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also be taken to include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this Rule), presented unassembled or disassembled.

b)  Any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or substance with other materials or substances. Any reference to goods of a given material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to goods consisting wholly or partly of such material or substance. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3.

3. When by application of Rule 2 b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

  • a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.
  • b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3 a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.
  • c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3 a) or 3 b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

4. Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with the above Rules shall be classified under the heading appropriate to the goods to which they are most akin.

5. In addition to the foregoing provisions, the following Rules shall apply in respect of the goods referred to therein:

  • a) Camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long-term use and presented with the articles for which they are intended, shall be classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith. This Rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its essential character.

  • b) Subject to the provisions of Rule 5 a) above, packing materials and packing containers presented with the goods therein shall be classified with the goods if they are of a kind normally used for packing such goods. However, this provision is not binding when such packing materials or packing containers are clearly suitable for repetitive use.

6. For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related Subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above Rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this Rule the relative Section and Chapter Notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.

Canadian rules

1. Unless the context otherwise requires, the provisions of Rule 6 of the General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the classification numbers within any six digit code.

2. Where both a Canadian term and an international term are presented in this Nomenclature, the commonly accepted meaning and scope of the international term shall take precedence.

3. For the purpose of Rule 5 (b) of the General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System, packing materials or packing containers clearly suitable for repetitive use shall be classified under their respective headings.

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