Product HS code

How to Find Your Product’s HS Code: A Step-by-Step Guide for International Trade

Look­ing for the cor­rect HS code for a prod­uct can be a com­pli­cat­ed process. How­ev­er, there are var­i­ous strate­gies avail­able to iden­ti­fy it, includ­ing using the Gen­er­al Rules of Inter­pre­ta­tion (GRI) plus devel­op­ing your own tech­niques. By uti­liz­ing these meth­ods, you can deter­mine the most fre­quent­ly obtained HS codes for your products

Step 1: Consider Bill of Materials(BOM) and TDS

The first step in deter­min­ing your pro­duc­t’s HS code is to first know your prod­uct spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Gath­er the fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing your product:

1. Tech­ni­cal Data Sheet
2.Bill of mate­ri­als
4.Chemical com­po­si­tion
5.Packaging infor­ma­tion
6.UN codes or any restric­tions on your prod­uct
7.Manufacturing process

If you want to sell in Europe, your bill of mate­ri­als needs to be REACH com­pli­ant and Caplinq can make that hap­pen. See our REACH page for more information. 

Step 2: Visit your country’s HS codes classification website

To iden­ti­fy your pro­duc­t’s HS code, you can check your coun­try’s HS code clas­si­fi­ca­tion web­site, which typ­i­cal­ly fol­lows the same nomen­cla­ture as oth­er coun­tries. While the main chap­ters and sub-chap­ters are gen­er­al­ly the same, the sub-chap­ters may dif­fer. After deter­min­ing your pro­duc­t’s phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, make note of all poten­tial cat­e­go­riza­tions that may apply. This will help you iden­ti­fy the most accu­rate HS code for your product. 

For more infor­ma­tion on what are HS codes, see our oth­er blog on HS codes.

Step 3: Competitor research

If you’re not the only com­pa­ny man­u­fac­tur­ing a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct or appli­ca­tion, you’ll like­ly have com­peti­tors, both domes­ti­cal­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly. For domes­tic com­pe­ti­tion, this can be advan­ta­geous as research has already been done. If your prod­uct match­es the same appli­ca­tion, com­po­si­tion, bill of mate­ri­als and char­ac­ter­is­tics as your com­peti­tor, you may be able to use the same HS code.

In the case of inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion, you can vis­it the com­peti­tor’s coun­try’s HS code clas­si­fi­ca­tion web­site and note the chap­ter and sub-chap­ter that the cat­e­go­ry belongs to. Then, review the respec­tive chap­ter and sub-chap­ter of your own coun­try and fil­ter out poten­tial codes based on com­peti­tor usage. This can nar­row down your list of poten­tial HS codes to a cer­tain, lim­it­ed, or even sin­gle code that may be suit­able for your product.

Step 4: General Rules of Interpretation(GRI):

Once you have deter­mined the pro­duc­t’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion, you can use the GRI to iden­ti­fy the appro­pri­ate HS code. The GRI con­sists of six rules that pro­vide guide­lines for deter­min­ing the appro­pri­ate clas­si­fi­ca­tion of a product

GRI Rule 1: The clas­si­fi­ca­tion of goods in the HS is gov­erned by the terms of the head­ings and any rel­a­tive sec­tion or chap­ter notes. There­fore, you should first exam­ine the head­ings and notes of the rel­e­vant chap­ter and sec­tion to iden­ti­fy the appro­pri­ate HS code

GRI Rule 2: If the prod­uct can­not be clas­si­fied based on Rule 1, then you should con­sid­er the head­ings and notes of the next low­er lev­el of clas­si­fi­ca­tion. This process con­tin­ues until the appro­pri­ate clas­si­fi­ca­tion is identified

GRI Rule 3: When a prod­uct is not clear­ly clas­si­fi­able based on the head­ings and notes of a par­tic­u­lar sec­tion or chap­ter, then you should con­sid­er the most appro­pri­ate head­ing among those that seem to apply to the prod­uct.

GRI Rule 4: When a prod­uct could be clas­si­fied under two or more head­ings, then the head­ing that pro­vides the most spe­cif­ic descrip­tion should be used.

GRI Rule 5: In cas­es where prod­ucts are clas­si­fied as “parts” or “acces­sories” of anoth­er prod­uct, they should be clas­si­fied in the same head­ing as the prin­ci­pal prod­uct. How­ev­er, this rule does not apply if the “parts” or “acces­sories” have a dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tion from the prin­ci­pal product

GRI Rule 6: When a prod­uct is not cov­ered by any head­ing or sub­head­ing of the HS, then it should be clas­si­fied under the head­ing that most close­ly resem­bles it, and the appro­pri­ate sub­head­ing should be select­ed based on its essen­tial characteristics

Step 5: Binding Tariff Information(optional)

After fil­ter­ing out poten­tial HS codes for your prod­uct, it’s impor­tant to choose the right one. 

How­ev­er, it’s pos­si­ble that cus­toms could dis­pute your code selec­tion, so it’s impor­tant to have proof that you’re using the cor­rect and legal HS code. This is where Bind­ing Tar­iff Infor­ma­tion (BTI) comes in. BTI is a legal­ly bind­ing doc­u­ment pro­vid­ed by your coun­try’s cus­toms author­i­ties, which links your prod­uct with a right­ful and bind­ing HS code tar­iff classification.

By obtain­ing a BTI, cus­toms author­i­ties will be bound to use the spec­i­fied HS code for risk analy­sis and cus­toms debt cal­cu­la­tion each time you make an import or export, as long as you pro­vide the cor­rect doc­u­ment for the respec­tive trans­ac­tion. This ensures that you’re using the cor­rect HS code for your prod­uct and reduces the risk of dis­putes with customs

Strategies to maintain the HS codes compliance

Strat­e­gy 1: Expert’s advice

Con­sult­ing a cus­toms agent can be a valu­able strat­e­gy for busi­ness­es seek­ing to main­tain com­pli­ance with HS codes. Cus­toms agents are experts in import and export reg­u­la­tions and can pro­vide guid­ance on the cor­rect clas­si­fi­ca­tion of prod­ucts under the HS code sys­tem. They can also advise on any addi­tion­al require­ments or cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that may be nec­es­sary to com­ply with local reg­u­la­tions. Work­ing with a cus­toms agent can help busi­ness­es avoid cost­ly penal­ties for mis­clas­si­fied prod­ucts and ensure that they are tak­ing advan­tage of any applic­a­ble trade agree­ments or duty exemptions

If you become our order ful­fill­ment client, we can help you to import effec­tive­ly into the EU for busi­ness. Click here to read more about it.

Strat­e­gy 2: Peri­od­ic review and mon­i­tor­ing cus­toms reg­u­la­tions of your country

Reg­u­lar­ly review­ing and mon­i­tor­ing cus­toms web­sites is an essen­tial strat­e­gy for main­tain­ing com­pli­ance with HS codes. Cus­toms author­i­ties often issue updates to their reg­u­la­tions and clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tems, and stay­ing informed about these changes can help busi­ness­es ensure that their prod­uct clas­si­fi­ca­tions remain accu­rate and up-to-date. Busi­ness­es should estab­lish a process for peri­od­i­cal­ly review­ing their prod­uct clas­si­fi­ca­tions and ver­i­fy­ing that they align with the lat­est HS code changes. In addi­tion, mon­i­tor­ing cus­toms web­sites and oth­er rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment sources for updates can pro­vide valu­able insights into changes to reg­u­la­tions, tar­iffs, and oth­er trade poli­cies that could impact a com­pa­ny’s com­pli­ance oblig­a­tions. By stay­ing on top of reg­u­la­to­ry changes and main­tain­ing accu­rate prod­uct clas­si­fi­ca­tions, busi­ness­es can reduce the risk of penal­ties for mis­clas­si­fied prod­ucts and take advan­tage of any avail­able trade benefits

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About Sasank Grandhi

Sasank is a Logistics specialist with be the ability to efficiently and effectively manage the flow of goods and materials. This includes overseeing transportation, warehousing, inventory management, and distribution operations, all while ensuring timely delivery and minimizing costs.

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