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Identification of Harmonized System Codes for Foods

"HS codes" are the planetary language used to identify your products; Did you know?

When you export food products , you fill out documents that describe your food.

In order to ensure you pay the customs duties related to your products they must be named correctly and also be associated with a precise code which makes it possible to classify them in the large system of the World Customs Organization.

These identifiers are the codes of the Harmonized System of the World Customs Organization.  It exists for everything that is traded in the world and not just for food.

What can it be used for ? Well to several things

  • To respect Canada's commitments as a member of the WTO

  • To record food transactions between WTO member countries (164 countries)

  • To ensure that you pay customs duties established under international agreements and WTO rules

  • To ensure that the commodity/product you are exporting is the correct one, that its description is correct, not erroneous and not fraudulent

  • To facilitate customs transit for import and export between WTO member countries

  • To identify the product traded regardless of the language of your client

Important advantages of fully understanding the Harmonized System food code system:

  • In order to optimize your import-export operations

  • Avoid unnecessary delays at customs for incomplete or erroneous papers

  • To avoid that your products are detained at the start and that you miss the departure of the ship which was supposed to carry your products

  • To prevent your products from being refused at destination and having to be returned to Canada at your own expense

  • Be sure to make yourself understood by your customers and understand your suppliers about the products traded, regardless of the language

  • To benefit from the appropriate customs tariffs for your products and to pay only the costs which are attached to them according to the rules of the WTO and the agreements between the countries

Strategies to evaluate:

Certain food products can be classified under more than one Harmonized System code or category and this can have an impact on tariffs . It is therefore important to choose the right code and to make sure that you can demonstrate that the product (s) identified by this code correspond to the definition and the criteria attached to it.

For example: when you want to export food products which are staples , some countries have quite high tariffs . If you lightly season these products, you can change the product category and therefore the Harmonized System code . This can result in a lower customs tariff . The important point is to agree with your clientabroad and produce specifications for appropriate products to justify the use of a different code, and appropriate to the product formulation as amended.

We are able to help you with the identification of the Harmonized System codes for foodstuffs and possible strategies to improve your controls relating to import - export operations.  You'll be able to meet regulatory compliance requirements for customs and regulatory compliance requirements export of materials and the normative requirements and those of your customers (including those specified in the GFSI standards). This will improve your efficiency, minimize delays and financial losses due to the use of wrong codes and save you money.

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