HS Classification

The “Harmonized System” or simply “HS” is a harmonized commodity description, a coding system developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) as an international product nomenclature. It comprises about 5,000 commodity groups; each identified by a six digit code and it is recognized by more than 200 countries, including the US. The official website for worldwide harmonized codes is on the WCO website. This means that the HS codes are the basis of all products classifications. Companies can use the HS number to estimate tariff rates when importing or exporting and complete shipping documents. However it is often important to confirm a classification number with customs authorities, freight forwarders, customs brokers and/or trade attorneys.

Each country has its own customs nomenclature, defining commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits. That is, country-specific codes start with the international six digits and then add up to 4 four digits to define specific products. And in the US, there are slightly difference classifications systems for exports and for imports. Export codes in the US are called “Schedule B.” Import codes – Harmonized Codes.

The European Union has a slightly different system. The “Combined Nomenclature,” which is the EU’s coding system for classifying products for customs and statistical purposes.