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A Quick Look at the 12 Goods & Services and Harmonized Sales Taxes

A Quick Look at the 12 Goods & Services and Harmonized Sales Taxes You Could Have to Pay When You Cross the Canadian Border

When you enter Canada from the United States, to visit, crossing the border is somewhat innocuous.  Yes, waiting in line to cross the border might take some time, but it is very important to do this properly.

Clearit customs brokerage clearance is important because it is part of a global system that keeps people safe from dangerous activity but also ensures that commercial processes are kept on the up and up.  Customs also protects domestic businesses from unfair—and, honestly, illegal—international competition.  By issuing duties, it minimizes illegal transport and trafficking of goods across physical borders.

If you are planning to move to Canada, you often have to pay various fees—taxes and duties—that contribute to these customs enforcement policies.  The type you pay, and the amount you pay, greatly depends on how you classify each of your possessions.

At first glance, the world of goods classification can seem confusing. After all, you have to pay a GST (Goods and Services Tax) and an HST (Harmonized Sales Tax).  When you enter Canada, there a possible 12 GST and/or HST categories under which your goods could be assessed.

CATEGORY 1:  20% duty + 5% GST/HST

  • Bedding
  • Curtains
  • Carpets
  • Linens
  • Life jackets
  • Life belts
  • Sleeping bags
  • Roller skates
  • Ice skates
  • Towels

CATEGORY 2:  18% duty + 5% GST/HST

Category 2 includes only apparel and footwear.

CATEGORY 3:  7% duty; no GST/HST

This category includes simple, non-taxable groceries like:

  • Canned foods
  • Frozen meat
  • Frozen fruit
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Produce
  • Eggs
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Medications

CATEGORY 4:  8% duty + 5% GST/HST

  • A/V equipment
  • Fim
  • Electronics
  • Cameras
  • Ceramics
  • Machinery
  • Cosmetics
  • Cookware
  • Watches
  • Light bulbs
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Handbags
  • Bicycles
  • Toiletries
  • Tires

CATEGORY 5:  Only 5% GST/HST

  • Cassette recorders and tapes
  • Fax machines
  • Calculators
  • Computer parts (and other related computer equipment)
  • Video game consoles
  • Video game equipment and peripherals
  • Sewing machines
  • Rice cookers
  • Answering machines
  • Toasters
  • Curling irons
  • Flashlights
  • Breadmakers
  • Glassware

CATEGORY 6:  Only provincial sales tax (whatever the sales tax is in the province where you are moving).

CATEGORY 7:  5% GST/HST

This category only sees a simple GST/HST on books

CATEGORY 8 – 12:

Categories 8 through 12 assign a handful of various duties on different classifications of alcohol (including beer, wine, and spirits) and cigarettes.