October 13th, 2010

Customs Serie, Exportation

How important it is to know your HS code for the products you export or import

When you do international business, it is your responsibility to make sure your customs broker uses the correct Harmonized System (HS) code for your declaration. For the past two years, I’ve noticed that too often companies think their customs broker will do the job for them. This mistake could cost you money and reduce your credibility with your international customers. To avoid this type of mistake, I suggest you do your homework and make sure you perfectly understand the meaning of the HS code you use to export. After all, you’re the expert when it comes to your product. Some basic information on how to find the HS code is exposed below.

The HS is the international standard for reporting goods to customs and other government agencies. It is a numeric language that is used by more than 190 countries worldwide. The classification determines a product’s rate of duty, its import and export admissibility, and whether or not it should be physically examined. The HS was created and is administered by the Brussels-based World Customs Organization (WCO). The first 6 digits of an HS code indicate the same product description for all 190 countries, but that does not mean that the rates of customs duties are the same. There are over 5,000 groups of 6-digit codes.

The HS code is also used to establish the basic rules of various trade agreements such as NAFTA. You might find it difficult to complete the form if you don’t know the coding of your merchandise.

It is important to note that the HS is constantly evolving. The last version was updated in 2007 and the next reform of the Harmonized System will be issued in January 2012. The main reasons for those changes are due to new trade partners and the evolution of new technologies.

If you are interested to know your HS code I recommend that you take a look at the following links:

Canadian Export Classification, 2009

The United States International Trade Commission

When you know your HS code, the website of the WCO publishes the tariff for more than 105 countries.

Please take note that this information comes from the website of Formation en Douanes Louise Chevanelle inc. If you are interested in knowing more about the U.S. and international customs do not hesitate to contact me. If enough companies show interest, we will consider providing training sessions.

Caroline Bouchard

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