What is HS Code: The Definitive FAQ Guide

What is HS code

If you are doing international business and have any questions about HS code, then you need to check this guide, you can find your questions below and check our answer.

If you can not find the right answer, then please contact me at any time.

What is the HS Code of a product?

HS Code is an acronym for “Harmonized System”.

It is an international system of naming and classifying commodities that we want to ship.

It gives room for traded products to be categorized regularly.

This will assist member countries for custom purposes.

At the international level, the HS Code (for the classification of products) is usually a six-digit code.

There are specific guides to be followed for importing from China to any other country using these HS Codes.

To broaden your knowledge about HS Codes, you can check out this video.

What is HTS?

This is the Harmonized Tariff Code Schedule (HTS).

It is a 10-digit method of classifying goods specifically imported fromthe United States.

They capture their first digits from the international HS code and add an extra four digits to make it more extensive.

For example, Section 09 is “Tea, Mate, Coffee, and Spices”.

0901 is “Coffee, Coffee Husks, substitutes with coffee”.

0901.11 is “Coffee, Not Decaffeinated, Not Roasted”.

0901.11.0015 is, “Coffee, Arabica, Not Decaffeinated, Not Roasted, Certified Organic”.

That is how this works.

It must be very particular and specific depending on the type of your product, as you can see here.

Structure of HTS Codes

Structure of HTS Codes

What do Schedule B codes mean?

Schedule B codes

US exporters are required to use Schedule B codes.

These codes are a subset of HTS codes.

It makes things more specific.

For a US exporter, you must make use of the 10 – digit HTS subsets called Schedule Bto export your goods.

Failure to classify products appropriately will lead to sanctions, fines, and other penalties.

Checkhere to know more about customs clearance in China

How are HTS codes chosen?

They are usually administered by the United States International Trade Commission.

All US importers need to understand the use of correct HTS-US codes.

This is because custom duties are assessed based on this classification.

 Structure and Example of an HS Code

Structure and Example of an HS Code

Why are HTS codes important to the Government?

HTS codes are used by government officials to determine the type of goods that are exported and imported.

This is done for tax collection.

This tax generates revenue for the government.

How Can I Use Images to Find Related HS Codes?

Visit findhs code to make both textual and visual search for products HS codes.

It is fast and very accurate.

How can I Obtain Better HS Code Results?

Make use of two or more HS code search engines and compare their search results.

Search results that align on both or all used search engines are more likely to be accurate.

What If I Don’t Find What I Am Looking For?

You can contact a fulfillment provider.

He or she should be able to guide you and provide relevant information on your search.

What Are Hs Codes Comprised Of?

These codes are composed of about 5300 article or product descriptions.

They are grouped in 21 sections.

They are also arranged in 99 chapters.

How Are Hs Code Digits Broken Down?

They are grouped into six digits.

It can be further broken down into three parts.

The first two digits (HS-2) reveal the chapters of each product.

For instance, 09 represents Tea, Spices, Coffee and Mate.

The subsequent two digits (HS-4) deals with the groupings within that chapter.

For example, 09.02 represents Tea.

This does not tell us about its flavor.

The next two digits (HS-6)tell us more about the product.

For example, 09.02.10 tells us the tea is non-fermented Green tea.

It is important to note that all countries categorize products in similar ways up to the HS-6 digit level.

There are only a few exceptions.

HS Classification code list

HS Classification code list

Where Are The Hs-6 Digit Level Exceptions Applied?

This system of classification does not apply to all countries.

Some countries still utilize the old and obsolete versions of the HS code.

What Are These Digits Called?

The first two digits are called ‘Chapters’.

The first four digits are called ‘Heading’.

The last six digits are called ‘Sub heading’.

A total breakdown of an HS Code

A total breakdown of an HS Code

How Is The Hs Structured?

The Harmonized System is arranged in a simple logical way.

For instance, animals and its products are located in one section of the HS.

Machine parts and appliances can be found in another section.

They have Chapter and Section titles describing wide categories of goods.

Headings and subheadings describe the products in more specific terms, as shown clearly here.

Typical Structure of the Harmonized System

Typical Structure of the Harmonized System

What Is HS Tariff Classification Number?

This is a number that is shown on import documentation.

It is necessary for determining the type of product that is being imported.

It is a 10-digit number.

Typically, every good has its own unique HS tariff classification number.

An agency called the Canada Border Services Administration ‘CBSA’ makes it compulsory to have an H.S. Tariff Classification Number.

This number is provided in Box 27 on B3 Customs Coding Form.

This is a method of identifying products to be imported.

The number is also required on various other (CBSA) forms.

Are Hs And HTS Codes Different?

HS stands for Harmonized System.

HTS stands for Harmonized Tariff System.

HS has 6 digits while HTS has 8-10 digits.

They are the same.

The difference is that HTS codes are used to specify the country you are importing from.

The HTS code takes the same form as an HS code for the first six digits.

The subsequent four digits differ.

Difference between HS and HTS Codes

Difference between HS and HTS Codes

What is the difference between Schedule B and HTS codes?

The Schedule B codes are subsets of the HTS codes for U.S. importers.

This implies that they are made up of 10 digits.

Schedule B codes are used by the United States government.

They use it to monitor U.S. exports for statistical purposes.

Just as the HTS codes, the first six digits of the Schedule B codes should be equivalent to that of the HS codes.

However, the subsequent four digits may be different from that of the HTS code.

To know more about their differences, watch this video.

What Is An Hs Code For Exporting And Importing?

HS Code is an international system that is used for product classification, especially for shipping.

It gives room for member countries to categorize traded goods on a general basis.

They are unique numbers that are used in the identification of various types of products all over the world.

They are utilized by custom officers to correctly recognize and clear products in the importing and exporting sector.

The custom agent or the individual in charge will apply for this number when submitting to customs in the importing country.

This is done to approve the rate of import tariff when importing into that country.

For instance, if you need help importing tea from China using HS codes, Bansar can assist in recommending the best Chinese tea supplier.

HS Classification for specific women’s clothing

HS Classification for specific women’s clothing

What Happens When Your Hs Code Is Wrong?

It is very important to provide the customs clearance agent with as many details as possible about the products to be imported.

This is to ensure that goods can easily be cleared through custom.

However, if the HS code is incorrect, then importers will be required to pay more in import duty.

In some rare cases, they may not pay import duty at all.

If an incorrect HS code is used to clear goods at the custom, you can be prosecuted.

You can be asked to pay fines or serve other forms of punishment.

What Are Commodity Codes?

Commodity Codes

When importing and exporting goods, it is required by law to pay a certain amount of money as tax.

This amount varies depending on the types of products.

Commodity codes are used for the classification of various goods.

This is to ensure that the appropriate amount of tax can be paid.

Every product will be assigned a unique commodity code as dictated by the International Harmonized System (HS).

Are Hs, Hts, Schedule B And Commodity Codes The Same?

Yes, they are basically the same.

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) is used for Customs import Declaration as a product classification.

Commodity codes (also known as Schedule B numbers) are the product classification used for Customs Export Declaration.

Each of them is dependent on the commonly agreed numbering schemes.

This scheme was introduced by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

They all have something in common which is their first 6 digits.

The same cannot be said for the subsequent ones.

Are Hs Codes The Same For All Countries?

The first 6 digits of the HS code of a product are the same but subsequent digits vary for individual member countries.

For instance, the HTS Code in the USA is up to 10-digit level.

The HSN Code in India is 8 digits and that of China is also up to 8-digits.

What Is the HSN Code for Gold?

The HSN Code for regular gold jewelry is 7113 19 10.

Gold jewelry set with pearls is 7113 19 20.

Gold powder is 7108 11 00 and for other unwrought forms of gold is 7108 12 00.

For other semi-manufactured forms of gold, the HSN code is 7108 13 00.

For monetary gold, it is7108 20 00.

For gold base metals or silver clad with gold is 7109 00 00.

More on this can be found here.

What Is the HS Code for IP Camera?

For an IP Camera, the HS Code is 852580.

This comprises a video camera and digital camera record.

IP is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol and an IP Camera is an electronic item.

Chapter 85 incorporates electronics items.

Products such as digital camera, video recorder cameras and television camera all come under the HS code 8525.

Is Hs Code A Benefit in Import and Export?

The HS code is not necessarily a benefit.

In fact, it is more of a requirement.

It is used to label the particular type of product after shipping.

This is necessary for the determination of its import duty rate in the country of import.

What Is the Hs Code of Diammonium Hydrogen Phosphate?

This product called Diammonium hydrogen phosphate belongs to Fertilizers under HS code 31.

It is specifically a chemical fertilizer under HS code 3105.

Is 8 Digit HSN Code Mandatory?

As earlier stated, the HSN code is an 8-digit number while the SAC code is a 6 digit number.

The digits are to be included in the GST Return and GST Invoice.

Later on, I will expatiate further on the meaning of GTS and what it entails.

How Hs Codes Affect Custom Duty?

It is a tradition for tariffs and duties to be imposed on exports and imports based on the classification codes assigned to them.

For a duty rate to be assigned to an item, you must ensure that the product is assigned a classification number which is used by the receiving country.

You can familiarize yourself with customs clearance policy in China and Nigeria,

Relationship between HS codes and custom duties

Relationship between HS codes and custom duties

Are HSN Products Classification Simple?

No, they are not simple.

They can be confusing.

The large number of products that we classify with HSN makes it confusing.

Categorization is done by placing several factors into consideration.

Some factors include form, composition, and use.

Let’s take potato as an example.

Merely looking on the surface, its classification would seem pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, it is not.

For fresh potatoes, they are categorized under the header “Potatoes, fresh or chilled” with the code 0701.90.

On the other hand, frozen potatoes are placed under the category ‘Vegetables’ (cooked or uncooked by boiling in water),‘frozen’ and under the subheading of ‘Potatoes’ with the code 0710.10.

From these, we can conclude that the HS is very comprehensive and not so straightforward.

Let’s look at another example: the classification of picture frames.

Wooden frames are given the HS code 4414.00.

They are under the heading Wooden frames for mirrors, photographs, paintings, and other related objects.

On the other hand, plastic frames are assigned the code 3924.90 under the heading Kitchenware, tableware, and other plastic household articles.

Finally, we examine “dogs” which are assigned the code 01.06 under the heading “residual” and are classified under “Other live animals”.

This is because its code isn’t within the range under headings 01.01 – 01.05.

In essence, every product for import or export must be carefully assigned an appropriate HS code to avoid sanctions and punishment.

Do not assume when assigning codes to products.

Take your time to make sure it is right.

HS Classification for specific plants and animals

HS Classification for specific plants and animals

HS Classification for Vegetable Products

HS Classification for Vegetable Products

Are There Consequences For Using Wrong Hs Codes?

Of course, there are consequences for using wrong codes.

  • You can miss out on a free-trade arrangement.

For instance, the wrong code you use may not be part of the items included in the list.

This means you will pay duty on a product that you should have traded duty-free.

  • You may be overcharged on customs duty.

Different products bear varying custom duties.

  • Choosing a wrong HS code may result in paying more as duty charge.
  • You may also face certain penalties from custom authorities.

They may think you want to cheat their government.

Furthermore, your products may be delayed, and your customers are made to wait for long.

This could piss off your customers and earn you a bad reputation.

What Are the Benefits of Using HS Codes?

The benefits include:

  • opportunity to enjoy duty-free trade in free-trade zones;
  • easy clearing of products from customs office;
  • positive business outlook; and

you can avoid delaying product delivery to your clients.

How Can I Determine the Customs Duty for a Product?

You can ask your local customs office.

You can also use freightos search engines to determine the customs charge on your products.

How Does Service Accounting Code (Sac) Relate to GST?

Service Accounting Code (Sac)

Just like products, services are uniformly classified for identification and taxation purposes.

Codes used for services are referred to as Services Accounting Code (SAC).

An example is given below.

Legal services (such as documentation and certification of intellectual property, patents, and copyrights) are coded 998213.

The first two digits (99) are generic for all services.

The next two digits (82) indicate the primary nature of the service.

This is legal services in this example.

The last two digits (13) indicate a clearer explanation of the nature of services, such as legal documentation for patents or copyright.

To learn more about SAC and its relationship with GST, click here.

How Can I Classify My Product Correctly?

Classify My Product Correctly

There are a lot of resources available on the internet to assist in determining the correct HS code for your impending imports or exports.

They include:

What Is GST?


This is an abbreviation for Goods and Services Tax.

It is a value-added tax placed on many goods and services which are sold for consumption domestically.

The GST is paid by the consumers.

The GST is paid to the government by the business.

Therefore, in essence, the Government rely on GST for revenue.

The GST is also a form of tax.

It is an indirect tax that is added to the cost of a particular good or service.

Every business adds this GST to the price of each of its products.

A customer who acquires the product will pay the sales price plus GST.

The GST is collected by the seller and paid to the government as a form of revenue.

In some countries, GST is known as Value Added Tax (VAT).

What Countries Use GST?

The first country to implement the GST scheme was France in 1954.

Ever since several countries have adopted this tax system since it is quite profitable.

Some of these countries include Vietnam, India, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Canada, Monaco, Australia, Nigeria, Singapore, Brazil, and the United Kingdom.

How Does the GST Work?

Most countries use the single unified GST system.

This implies that a single tax rate is used throughout the whole country.

A country with a single unified system merges all taxes (central taxes and state-level taxes) and collects them as a single tax.

Some of these taxes which are merged include sales tax, service tax, excise duty tax, entertainment tax, transfer tax, entry tax, luxury tax, and sin tax.

These countries place a tax on almost every single product and service at the same rate.

What Is HSN Code In GST?

Now that we know what GST is all about, the link between HSN and GST can now be properly explained.

In some countries such as India, HSN codes are used for the regular Customs, Excise, and Value Added Tax (VAT) laws.

Recently, there have been proposals to use the codes under Goods and Services Tax (GST) law to categorize goods and products.

The HSN code has to be declared on the tax invoice.

It should also be stated when filing the GST returns.



It is important to note that HS codes are not needed to calculate the shipping cost.

The HS Code is only needed by the importer to determine the amount of import duty.

Shipping cost is the element that is put into consideration when custom duty is calculated.

Where Can Hs Codes Be Applied?

As of 2018, 220 countries were utilizing the Harmonized System worldwide.

HS Codes are used by several people to oversee the import and export process.

This includes statistical agencies, custom authorities, and other government regulatory bodies.

They oversee imports through the following:

  • Transport statistics and tariffs
  • Custom tariffs
  • Trade negotiations (for instance, the World Trade Organization schedules of tariff concessions)
  • Collection of international trade statistics
  • Monitoring of controlled goods (e.g. ozone layer depleting substances, wildlife trade, narcotics, endangered species, wastes, and chemical weapons).
  • Collection of internal taxes
  • Rules of origin
  • Areas of Customs procedures and controls, including information technology, compliance, and risk assessment.

Some companies use HS codes to locate good sources of items and good selling opportunities abroad.

They also use it to calculate the total cost of imported parts and products.

What Is the HSN Code for Work Contracts?

HSN Code for Work Contracts

Work Contracts are categorized under SAC (Services Accounting Codes) for GST.

The SAC (Services Accounting Codes) list is used to classify services.

On the other hand, HSN (Harmonized System of Nomenclature) list is SAC’s equivalent for products.

Work Contracts Service is coded 9954 based on SAC classification.

It is further classified as:

SAC 99541 indicating Construction Services related to Buildings.

SAC 99542 indicating General Construction Works of Civil Engineers.

SAC 99543 indicating Site Preparation Services.

SAC 99544 indicating Assembly and Erection of Prefabricated Constructions.

SAC 99545 indicating Special Trade Construction Works.

SAC 99546 indicating Installation Works.

SAC 99547 is indicating Building Finishing Works.

Where Can I Get Hs Code API?

You can get some websites online which have APIs

These websites can make your products and services’ classification much easier and better.

APIs usually use inputs such as product names, brands, product descriptions, and manufacturer to assign unique codes to products.

Semantics3 is a tool that is used to assign HS codes to your product.

What Is Meant by Reasonable Care?

Reasonable Care

The term “Reasonable care” means compliance with customs rules and regulations.

This idea was as a result of the US 1993 Customs Modernization Act (famously referred to as the “Mod Act”).

The act amended some sections of the Tariff Act of 1930.

This changed the way trade communities and customs interact during international trade.

It makes us know that the business community and the customs office are both responsible for compliance with the Importer of Record (IOR).

This concept gives us a better understanding of the legal responsibilities of the trade community.

For instance, the trade community is expected to classify and determine the value of imported products and services.

It also makes information available to customs.

Customs use this information to assess and collect duties, gather accurate statistics and check for compliance with rules and regulations.

The Customs office is responsible for providing guidance and support to the trade community.

How Can an Importer Demonstrate Reasonable Care?

The first step is to get acquainted with the rules and regulations guiding imports.

Next, we can ask questions on controversial issue sat the customs office.

Abiding by established rules and regulations follows.

Lastly, importers should ensure they know about changes in customs regulations quickly.

How do I find HS Code?

Identifying the actual HS Code for your products can be challenging.

However, sendcloud.com has made your work easier.

HS Code Finder

HS Code Finder

On the website, key in the nearest description possible to identify your product.

When you don’t find the exact product you are looking for, use ‘other ‘or the navigator tool.

Otherwise, you can search the product using the materials it’s made of.

Once you get your code, you can check the import duty shown in the overview of the products selected.

The system is automatized; carefully check the HS Codes retrieved. Remember the codes help to determine the number of import duties or any other payable taxes; ensure they are correct.

Why do you need HS Code When Importing from China?

Importing products from China needs thorough planning which includes testing, labeling preparation of documents etcetera.

Therefore, you need to have the HS Code to run the process smoothly.

Here are some of the reasons why you need the Harmonized System while importing products from China.

I. For custom, duty to be applied- All goods imported to China are subjected to VAT Tax of 13% for agricultural and utility items while other goods are 17%.

II. It’s a regulatory authority requirement for pre-market approval.

III. CIQ ( China Inspection and Quarantine) supervision- checks labels and CC markings. They work hand in hand with laboratories and other offices to ensure the products imported are of good quality.

IV. For custom declaration process to take place.

What is HS Codes for Clothes?

HS Codes for clothes has four fixed digits 6210.

The additional digits make the whole difference to the code.

Garments are classified according to accessories, gender, whether handmade or not.

Example Apparel and clothing accessories not knitted or crocheted.

Who is Responsible for HS Codes?

HS Code responsibility is shared among HS traders, custom authorities, and exporters/importers.

HS traders provide HS Codes to custom authorities when they want to import and export goods. Information is declared on the import declaration.

HS traders have to provide the correct HS Code failure to which can result in penalties.

Custom brokers are familiar with the classification while importers and exporters are not.

As a result, traders expect brokers to determine the correct HS Code for their products even at a fee.

Interestingly the brokers are not as familiar with the products as the traders are.

Custom brokers may be tempted to quickly clear shipment by declaring HS Codes with the least import or export restrictions possible.

To reduce administration work, they may declare the HS Code with less amount of import duties.

It is the importers’ or exporters’ legal responsibility to ensure goods being shipped have been classified correctly.

At the end of the day, the trader is the loser.

So as a trader is important to learn the process of  HS classification, hire a consultant such as BanSar Experts or work together to determine the correct HS Code.

If you want to depend on a customs broker remember to at least conduct audits to manage the risks.

What is HS Code China?

In August 2018, China Custom Commodity HS Code changed from the original 10 digits to 13 digits.

The first 8 digits are based on the WCO and HS Code plus the Commodity HS Code of import and export of people of the Republic of China.

The 9 and 10 digits are customs supervisory additional numbers while 11 to 13 are related to inspection and quarantine.

Transcustoms provides the latest China HS Codes.

What is HS Code for Laptop?

The Harmonized system for laptops is 8471.30.

It ensures uniform classification of laptops among various countries.

However, countries add more digits to the HS System to be unique.

Laptops are classified according to the manufacturer of new or used laptops.

Is HS Code for Import the same as HS Code for Exports?

While dealing with imports or exports, Hs codes eliminate guesswork and instill confidence in the business.

Hence import, export HS codes are similar.

A certain commodity may mean one thing in a certain country and something different in another due to the language barrier.

For example, in India incense sticks are referred to as agarabatti while in other countries it’s referred to as incense sticks.

Non-Indians may not understand what agarabatti means.

To avoid such miscommunications, HS Codes are used in international trade.

They are a universal language.

What are the Number of Digits in HS Code?

Initially, HS Code numbers were six. This was adhered to by most of the countries worldwide.

The six digits can be broken into three parts;

Here is an example of HS Code 660390 for umbrellas. It falls under the footwear/headgear category.

HS Code structure

HS Code structure

The first 2 digits (66) identifies the chapter of the product i.e. the Umbrella.

It gives a rough indication of the product.

The next digits (03) identifies the headings of the product i.e. trimmings and accessories of the umbrella.

It gives a clearer identification of the product.

Finally, (90) breaks the heading into a subheading.

It’s extremely specific on the goods i.e. umbrella and sun umbrella.

However, with time it has undergone some revisions.

Customs officials have different views on which HS Code a certain type of good should be assigned to.

Even though all economies are supposed to follow the same GRI (The Six General Rule of Interpretation)

For this reason, countries are free to add more digits to their HS Code to serve their purpose.

Most countries add two while others add four hence making the total HS Code be eight or ten respectively.

For instance, the UK uses the eight-digit HS Code while the US uses 10 digits. The more the digits in the HS Code, the more specific the product it identifies.

What is HS Code Singapore?

Singapore is a member of the WCO (World Customs Organization) and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries.

Hence Singapore adopted the eight-digit HS Code.

The first six digits are aligned to the WCO Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

Traders importing and exporting goods in and out of Singapore are expected to know their product HS Codes.

It helps to avoid wrong import duties being levied on the products. Traders can identify the correct HS Codes by;

  • Self-classification
  • Alphabetic index
  • Custom ruling

For HS Code, product code, and descriptions, you can check on HS/CA product Code search engine within Singapore trade classifications.

On the site, you can as well check whether the products are subjected to a competent authority.

If they are controlled, it will be indicated on the search column of import, exports, or transshipment.

Click the competent authority acronym to access more information.

How do you know the HS Codes in Malaysia?

On the 1st of October 2018, The Royal Malaysian Customs Department declared a mandatory application of 6 digits HS Code on imports, exports, and transshipment in Malaysia.

Malaysia is trying to implement a new customs operation system commonly referred to as ‘uCustoms.’

Hence customers should ensure they meet the requirements during the booking and documentation stage.

Failure to do so your products may not be accepted by the Customs Department.

Additionally, the shipping liner may be fined.

If you are not sure of the HS Codes for your products in Malaysia, you can refer to the officers at the Malaysia Royal Customs Department head office.

You can as well search the tariff function at the JKDM HS-Explorer website.

Malaysia uses both Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Code) and ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN).

AHTN is used for trade transactions between Malaysia and other ASEAN member countries while HS Code applies to trade with non-ASEAN countries.

Are Commodity Codes the same as HS Codes?

Commodity Code and HS Code are similar.

However, the terms are used interchangeably.

Commodity Codes are basically a series of numbers used to identify products being imported or exported to and from a given country.

HS Codes on the other hand stands for Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

They help to determine;

Charges levied on goods such as customs duty.

They restrict or prohibit goods imported, exported, or ones on transit.

They determine the kind of treatment the goods may be given at the airport. For instance, food may be handled differently from clothes.

What is ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN)?

The ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature is an 8 digit HS Commodity common among 10 ASEAN member states.

According to the World Customs Organizations, the addition of the seventh and eighth digits for description purposes is referred to as ASEAN subheadings.

ASEAN member states are guided by principles such as appeal, consistency, transparency, and efficiency.

How does the Intrastat Code compare to HS Code?

Intrastat is a system of collecting statistics on the trade in goods between UK and EU member states while HS Code is Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

Both have 8 digit codes that help to identify types of goods subjected to dispatch or arrival.

The digits are in statistical information used by the government department, the EU Commission, and UN agencies and businesses to identify products.

Commodity codes of the goods are described in a combined nomenclature CN where the integrated tariff of the UK is based.

Is there a difference between Custom Tariff Number and HS Code?

There is a thin line between Custom Tariff Number and HS Code.

However, they depend on each other.

Goods are first classified according to their relevant characteristics.

Depending on the type of good, custom description, and intended use, Custom Tariff Number can be accessed.

Harmonized System on the other hand is a method of classifying products by assigning 6 digits; used in over 200 countries.

Custom Tariff Number depends on HS Code for classification.

What is the HS Code List?

HS Codes is a worldwide term used to classify commodities.

It standardizes commodities to ensure traders all over the world are talking about the same product.

Different countries have different codes. However, the first six digits are harmonized by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

The six-digit code is split into three groups referred to as the HS Code list.

The first two categorize the product, the other two define the classification further and the final two specifies the product.

Millions of shipments are sent all over the world bearing different product names from various countries.

They all need to be checked, classified, and taxed. Hence the HS Code system is used to ease the process

What are the Common Challenges when using HS Codes?

The frequent revision of HS results in every five years breaks the time series needed for analysis.

It is a complex task that is hard to implement without extensive training or professionalism in the field.

HS Code does not provide an actual description of its six-digit code.

Hence there is a lot of duplication as many countries end up having the same description.

HS Codes notes are with classification are not free; equally, they are hard to understand.

Definition of commodity group in HS is not satisfying to economic analysis.

Commodities are not classified to reflect the country’s statistical priorities and circumstances at a detailed level of classification.

WCO recommends a 6-digit HS Code level.

However, the recommended units are not indicated hence they are different in many countries.

It creates difficulties in HS implementation and analytical use.

Wrong HS Code classification may lead to; payment of wrong duty tax on your product resulting in the tax bill for the back payment of all goods incorrectly classified.

Similarly, it may result in overpayment of duty and tax which may affect your business cash flow in the long run.

It is also hard to regain overpaid duty.

Additionally, the wrong HS Code may cause delays; you may even lose your goods.

Is there a difference between HTS EU and HTS USA?

HTS stands for Harmonized Tariff Schedule Codes.

HTS EU is for European Union countries while HTS USA is for the United States.

HTS Codes builds on the universal HS Codes to specify the product code.

The EU has 8 digits HTS Code while HTS USA 10 digits’ code.

However, they have similar six digits then different two and four last digits respectively.


We hope we have been able to explain how HS codes work and other related issues.

If you need clarifications on points raised in this post, please feel free to drop your comments.

We’ll be sure to follow up on you.

Update cookies preferences