What is a HS code

& Where do you find them

Are you an importer or exporter looking for information about import duties or other import taxes such as import VAT? Or do you want to know whether you need an import or export licence for your shipment? HS codes for products help with this. This ‘‘Harmonized System code’’ is used by customs authorities worldwide to classify products.

HS Code also called GS code

An HS code is a code that customs authorities use worldwide to classify products. Each product has a different HS code. The HS code is in the Netherlands also known as GS code. GS stands for Harmonised System. An HS code of a product consists of six digits. Almost all countries in the world use the same HS codes for products. The HS code for e.g. golf clubs and/or other golf supplies is the same in all countries, namely 9506 31. The list of HS codes can be found on the World Customs Organization website.

The HS Codes

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Taric code: goods code on import

If you import goods from United States, China or another country outside the EU, you will need a ten-digit goods code for your import declaration. In the EU, this ten-digit code is called a Taric code. Certain goods are subject to several measures, in which case the Taric-code can be expanded to a maximum of eighteen digits.

The tariff

An overview of all commodity codes can be found in Dutch Customs ‘Tariff’. Click on the tab ‘nomenclature’ and within that on ‘consult via nomenclature’. You get to the commodity code of a product by clicking the desired folder or by consulting the 10-digit code.

What are the differences when importing into the EU and exporting from the EU?

When exporting goods from the EU, the HS (‘Harmonised System’) code is expanded by 2 digits to give the CN (‘Combined Nomenclature’) code. This specifies the rules for exporting goods.

At importation, the Taric code should be used to verify compliance with financial and non-financial measures.

Can’t find your commodity code?

Determining the HS code or commodity code of your product is sometimes difficult. Many products are not literally reflected in the tariff. A ‘laptop’ or ‘tablet’ for example. These fall under the description ‘portable automatic data processing machines, weighing no more than 10 kg, comprising at least a central processing unit, a keyboard and a display’. The HS code for this is 8471 30. The relevant export commodity code (CN code) is 8471 30 00. The corresponding commodity code on imports (TARIC code) is 8471 30 00.

Is your product not mentioned by name in the tariff? Use the tools below to classify your product in a commodity code:

  • Via the ‘Combined Nomenclature Search Engine’ of the European Statistical Office, Eurostat, you can search for product descriptions which cannot be found ‘literally’ in the tariff (the customs tariff). For example, enter ‘laptop’ as a search term and you will find the HS code of a laptop.
  • If you are an importer, there is a good chance that your foreign supplier knows which HS code or commodity code applies to his product(s). Please note: if your supplier comes from a country outside the EU, use the first six digits (HS code) of the product’s commodity code as supplied by him. The figures after the sixth position may differ from the figures used by the EU. Look up the correct commodity code based on your supplier’s HS code in the Customs Tariff.
  • The classification rules of the goods nomenclature. Classification rules apply to determining the commodity code of a product. There is a compulsory sequence. This means that you always start with classification rule one. If the classification of a product in a commodity code is not possible according to rule one, then you look whether classification is possible with rule two and so on.
  • Description of a number of product groups (such as textiles, shoes, vegetables, fruit and nuts, plastics and computers) by the European Union to facilitate the determination of a commodity code.
  • In the European Binding Tariff Information database you will find rulings by the customs authorities of the EU Member States on the classification of goods (binding tariff information).

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