HS codes are declared by both importers and exporters to Customs authorities during the Customs clearance process. In most countries, the import HS code and the export HS code are exactly the same. However, in a few countries the import and export HSN may differ. For example in the United States, the import HS Classification number differs from the export HS code, which is referred to as a Schedule B number instead.
Where to get the export HS code?
There are several ways a trader can get the HS code for export purposes:
- Check with the manufacturer. If the product is being purchased from a local manufacturer, there is a good chance that the manufacturer has already done the HS classification for the products concerned. HS codes are critical pieces of information when utilizing Free Trade Agreements, and hence most manufacturers would have already done the work to determine the right HSN.
- Apply for an Advanced Clarification Ruling. Similar to imports, it is possible for traders in many countries to request Customs for a classification ruling. Such a ruling is a legal document that traders can fall back on to defend HS codes used to Customs authorities. Rulings are only valid in the countries they are issued in, however if a ruling document from a foreign country is available, that can be used as a point of reference when applying for a local ruling.
- Self classify. If companies import and export a large variety of products on a regular basis, it may be necessary to invest in training employees to do HS classification on their own. Even if a company does not deal with a large variety of products, it would still be useful to have staff that understand the process of HS classification. With ready access to such a resource, a company will more easily be able to find the export HS code for a product whenever necessary.
- Hire a professional service. Trade compliance advisors and consultants will be able to provide classification services to traders. However, this may require revealing confidential information to the external party doing the classification. When hiring a professional service, it is also important for traders to receive robust documentation to explain the classification process and logic applied to determine the export HS code.
- Check the import HS code used. If the product was imported in the first place, the trader may attempt to check the HS number declared to Customs at the time of import. However, traders should be careful with this approach as there is no guarantee that the importer correctly classified their products.
All exporters should also remember that export HS codes are not the same as export control classification numbers. Traders should maintain the accuracy of the HS codes used for exports through an internal compliance program which includes self-audits and audits of export declarations.