Clients often say “we’ve used the same harmonized codes for years” and “our products are duty free“. As a Licensed Customs Broker and consultant this tells me that I need to do some checking on the client’s behalf. Using obsolete or invalid HTS codes is a sign of an amateurish operation. It is likely that, for these clients, commercial invoice descriptions need updating. If they are also an exporter we should check ECCNs, License Exceptions, and Schedule B numbers as well.
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule code is a 10-digit import classification system that is specific to the United States. HTS codes, also called HTS numbers, are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
Customs brokers use the HTS, along with CBP regulations, in their day to day business. Importers and traders may also make use of the HTS in determining duty rates. Checking the validity of harmonized codes at least semi-annually is a good business practice. What may be surprising is the frequency of revisions to the HTS.
The tariff archives show that the 2020 HTS was revised 28 times. The 2021 version already lists 7 revisions. Here are the links to the changes. Don’t assume that your codes are valid. A little due diligence helps avoid problems down the road. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a review of your HTS codes.