Products and services

What are Harmonised System (HS) codes?

An HS code (or HTS code) stands for Harmonized System code. Developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the codes are used by customs authorities around the world to identify products when assessing duties and taxes and for gathering statistics.

Customs authorities use these HS codes or “Harmonized System” to calculate the many import duties and charges for the import and exports of your cargo as each HS code has its specific implicit import duties.

At the international level, the Harmonized System (HS) for classifying goods is a six-digit code system. These six digits can be broken down into three parts:

  • The first two digits (HS-2) identify the chapter the goods are classified.

  • The next two digits (HS-4) identify groupings within that chapter and are called heading.

  • The following two digits (HS-6) give even more specifications on commodity and are called subheading.

Up to the HS-6 digit level, all countries classify products in the same way. For the Shipping Instructions submission, you need to enter a 6-digit HS code for the commodities in your container. Beyond the first 6 digits, countries can add their own Legal Notes according to their own tariff and statistical requirements. Read more about HS codes in our knowledge hub.

An example: In some countries, due to regulations, some products will not be allowed to import or export. Our experts can help you with guidance and let you know what type of documentation you need for different countries. For example: sanitary checks, special permissions amongst others. 

Note: The importance of using the correct HS code will help you ensure a swift customs clearance and save you unnecessary costs. If your cargo needs special permissions or certificates our customs experts will guide you with this.

Important: The new revision of the Harmonized System Nomenclature enters into force on 1 January 2022. This applies to all shipments with a departure date on the 1st of January 2022 and later. Please, make sure to use the correct revision for your shipment.

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