Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Codes for International Shipping

June 22nd, 2016 Comments off

HTS BlogYou may have spotted a box called “HS Tariff” in the Stamps.com International Shipping Label’s Customs Information section. What is it and what is it used for?

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.

International Shipping: What are Customs, Duties and Taxes?

October 17th, 2014 Comments off

blog_globeIf you are selling products online and you are not yet selling to international markets, you are missing out on an easy opportunity to grow sales. eMarketer estimates that global e-commerce sales will reach $1.5 trillion in 2014! And they expect the international sales to grow at least 15% EACH YEAR through 2017.

International buyers want U.S. products and buying directly from the source is usually much cheaper than buying from a retailer in their own country. 68% of ALL E-COMMERCE SALES in 2014 will occur outside of the U.S.!

And while many sellers think selling to international markets is hard due to Customs Forms, language barriers and longer shipping delivery periods, sellers are usually surprised to see how easy shipping overseas is.

Check out the recently published articles on how to get started:

In this week’s article, we discuss some other important topics to be aware of when selling to international markets.

blog_customs-clearance Customs Fees:
Customs Fees are a cost that the host country charges to manage the flow of goods in and out of the country. All products go through Customs before going to the buyer, and there is a fee associated to manage this process. For e-commerce sales, the BUYER typically is aware of this fee and is the responsible party for paying the fee.
blog_tariff_big Duties/Tariffs:
Similar to Customs Fees, Duties/Tariffs are a type of tax placed on value of item, plus freight and insurance by country. Duties/Tariffs are designed to protect local businesses and industries in the host country. While there are some exceptions, the BUYER is the responsible party to pay the Duties/Customs fees.
blog_taxes-due_big Taxes:
Taxes are not charged by every country, and they can vary based on the value of the product. This is an additional fee that a local government such as state, province or city, charges for delivering the package into their region. Similar to Customs Fees and Duties/Tariffs, the BUYER typically pays the fee.
blog_us-census-bureau International Transaction Number (ITN):
The ITN is a requirement from the U.S. Postal Service if the product you are shipping is over $2,500 in value. You can get the ITN number for your product at the US Census site. In order to get the ITN, you must first file a document using the Electronic Export Information (EEI) form. Once the EEI form is processed and approved, you will receive your ITN which should be included with your shipping documents.
blog_harmonized-codes_big Harmonized Codes:
Harmonized codes are another important issue. These are a standardized set of numbers developed by the World Customs Organization to process customs quicker. They are built for commercial shippers that send a lot of the same product. HS codes can speed up the customs processing time, so it’s a good idea to use them. Get more info on Harmonized Codes.

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