International Trade Corner: November 2021
Harmonized System (HS) Tariff Classification
The classification of goods for export and import is carried out through the Harmonized System (HS) of Tariff Classification. The HS system was developed and continues to be managed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), an international organization that brings together the Customs administrations of most countries. They are used globally by most countries for the vast majority of formal international trade transactions. World Customs Organization (wcoomd.org)
HS codes are harmonized globally up to the first 6 digits; beyond this level, countries may add additional numbers in order to create more specific categories and definitions for the assessment of tariffs, gathering trade statistics, and to further trade policy objectives. HS codes may be used for various purposes such as establishing import/export regulatory requirements, determining duty rates (tariffs), gathering trade statistics, and international market research.
Classification under the HS system can be complex and is an art as well as a science. It is done in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and generally importers and exporters are liable for any resulting duties, fees and penalties that may result from misclassification, even when a Customs Broker is utilized. As a result, it is imperative that importers and exporters understand how to properly classify under the HS system and to seek out assistance from “experts” including Customs Brokers and other resources.
In the United States, HS codes for imports are often referred to as “HTS codes”, “harmonized tariff numbers” or “classifications”. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) contains the HTS codes that are used for imports; and lists them along with their applicable tariffs.
Schedule B numbers are used for identifying exports for reporting, export control and statistical purposes. The United States does not assess tariffs on exports.
For further information or assistance with HS codes, please contact Mississippi Small Business Development Center, Manager of International Trade Anthony Cambas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (662)-832-3771.