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Know your Canadian HS Tariff Codes

Dale Wilson antique dale wilson historical photo processes import studio tariff taxes wetplate

Should you be like many wet plate photographers we often buy and sell lenses and cameras for a variety of reasons.  Most often the devices being purchased are considered “antique” and when the delivery dude shows up at the door he is standing there with his hand out demanding far more money than budgeted. You feel like you are being railroaded.

There will be taxes and tariffs, brokerage fees and admin fees, and what seems like a litany of other fees that can add significantly to the cost of the good being imported.

This is unfortunate as the import tariff can most likely be eliminated with a simple inclusion by the shipper on the waybill: “Antique Camera Lens manufactured circa 1860. HS Tariff Code 9706.00.90 applies.”  You need only instruct the shipper PRIOR TO initiating the shipment.


You will still be required to pay the appropriate provincial sales tax and brokerage administration fee (I believe Canada Post is a flat $10.00 fee, for example) but the item is exempt from tariff.

Your reference is Chapter 97 of the Canadian Customs Tariff Schedule, and specifically page 97- 2 found at

Should the item you purchased be less than 100 years old, but more than 50 years old, HS Tariff Code 9989.00.00 would apply.  In this case the notation in the description field of the waybill might be “Camera lens manufactured (date of manufacture). HS Tariff Code 9989.00.00 applies.”

Hopefully this information will make you feel so good about your savings you will want to show your appreciation by donating to the Antique Pictureology benevolent fund.

I joke, of course, but I am planning on establishing a fundraising campaign in 2017 to create a monument to commemorate the significance and contribution to photography in Canada made by William Valentine of Halifax. He opened the first permanent photo studio in British North America in January, 1842. His gravesite is in Halifax, and the years have made it unidentifiable.  More to follow.

Happy New Year to all, and may 2017 bless you with good health and many superb plates.

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