Trade Like a Pro

Clients often say “we’ve used the same harmonized codes for years” and “our commodities 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 also need updating. If they are an exporter we should check ECCNs, License Exceptions, Country of Origin, and Schedule B numbers as well.

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule code is a 10-digit import classification system for commodities imported into the United States. HTS codes or numbers are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The first 6 digits, sometimes referred to as HS codes, are standard for more than 200 countries. The last 4 digits are specific to the United States. Schedeule B numbers are used for export and are often, but not always, identical to HTS codes. They are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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 2022 HTS was revised 12 times. Don’t assume that your codes are valid. A little due diligence helps avoid problems down the road. Contact mitch@ for a review of your HTS codes.