Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Codes for International Shipping
The Harmonized System, or HS, Tariff code is used to classify physical goods and traded products for export to another country. In the Stamps.com software, you have the option of entering a six-digit HS Tariff, a value developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
Why would you need this code? The codes are used by countries’ customs services to assess product quotas and correctly levy tariffs. This is not necessarily a bad thing: your commodity may qualify for a preferential tariff under a Free Trade Agreement.
Getting Your HS Tariff Code
So where would you get an HS Tariff code? To locate a specific code, please visit: http://hts.usitc.gov/
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule allows you to classify a specific product or product type with a numbered code. It will also provide information on the Tariff Rate of Duty.
Are you an exporter of table-tennis equipment? In the Tariff Schedule search engine, type in “table-tennis.” Reviewing the results, you’ll see HS Tariff code 9506, which is for “articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis).” What if you’re an exporter of extracts, essences and concentrates of coffee, tea, or roasted chicory? Then your HS Tariff code is “2101.”
The goal is to pick the most specific tariff code for your item. For example, knives with silver handles would have the Tariff Code of 7114.11.10. Tricycles, scooters, and pedal cars would be 9503.00.00. Perfumed bath salts would be 3307.30.
Using HS Tariff Codes in Stamps.com
To use an HS Tariff code, please select “Commercial Sample” as the Content Type in the Customs Form. You’ll notice some codes are longer than six characters, the maximum limit for the HS Tariff code in the Stamps.com software. Don’t worry: because the HS Tariff classification protocol is used by almost the entire international community, participating countries can add more digits to classify items with more specific detail. However, the first six digits are the same across all participating countries. Because of this, only the first six are used on Stamps.com Customs Forms.
The Customs Form will also ask for a “Country of Origin.” This refers to the origin of the product, not the origin of the mailpiece as a whole. This is required for the sake of security and to prevent any illicit or fraudulent activity, or anything that violates existing export laws.
Once you enter the Itemized Package Content Details, Value, Weight, Country of Origin, and add each line item by clicking on the “Add Item” button, you will be asked to acknowledge the USPS Privacy Act Statement and Restrictions and Prohibitions. Review that, and click OK.
Your form is now ready to print. The HS Tariff Number will appear in a box on the left of your International Shipping Label/Customs Form.