International Freight Forwarder

Understanding Duty and Importing into Canada



When importing items into Canada, the number 1 questions we are asked is “is it duty free?”. People feel that this will make up the largest portion of their cost and want to know the best way to minimize it.  The best way to minimize duty is to know which countries to import from.  Canada has many trade agreements with a wide variety of countries that offer reduced or 0% duty on items that would otherwise incur duty.

List of Agreements:

All current agreements are made available on the Government of Canada website for international trade.  Those agreements are summarized below with the corresponding abbreviation.


Agreement name


Countries/blocs involved


Entered into force

Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement


 United States

12 October 1987

1 January 1989

North American Free Trade Agreement


 United States

17 December 1992

1 January 1994[a]

Canada–Israel Free Trade Agreement



31 July 1996

1 January 1997

Canada–Chile Free Trade Agreement



5 December 1996

5 July 1997

Canada–Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement


 Costa Rica

23 April 2001

1 November 2002

Canada–European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement


26 January 2008

1 July 2009

Canada–Peru Free Trade Agreement



29 May 2008

1 August 2009

Canada–Colombia Free Trade Agreement



21 November 2008

15 August 2011[b]

Canada–Jordan Free Trade Agreement



28 June 2009

1 October 2012

Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement



14 May 2010

1 April 2013

Canada–Honduras Free Trade Agreement



5 November 2013

1 October 2014

Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement


 South Korea

11 March 2014

1 January 2015

Canada–Ukraine Free Trade Agreement



11 July 2016

1 August 2017

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement


 European Union

30 October 2016

21 September 2017 (provisional)[9]

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership


8 March 2018

30 December 2018



Checking your item:

Every item imported must be classified with an HS Code.  This code can be looked up in the Government of Canada Customs Tariff book available here.

Once you have identified your item, it is just a matter of looking at the correct column to determine the duty rate for it.


Reading the Canada Customs Tariff book:

After you have your HS code for your item, you can use the book to lookup the appropriate rate of duty.


HS Code: The Harmonized Tariff code for your item. The first 6-digits are internationally standardized, while the remaining 4 digits are country specific.

MFN Tariff or MFN Duty rate: The basic duty rate for your item if the origin country does not have a preferential rate.

Preferential Tariffs or Preferential Duty rate: The special rate if the origin country has a Trade Agreement or qualifies for the Preferential rate.


Our expertise can help you not only to navigate the tariff and intricacies of the Tariff Book, but also do find the most appropriate code for your goods. Leveraging our experience, finding the correct code and the best possible duty rate can have a significant impact on your decision to import the good, and which country you are sourcing your items from.  The ever evolving landscape of international trade can be difficult without sound advice, and that is where we can help.

Contact us today and we can help you navigate the process and set you up for success.

Maple Freight is a proud member of

IATA, CIFFA and Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters.

Maple Freight is also Canada Border Services Agency's approved partner in protection.