International Shipping

Everything You Need to Know About a Tariff Code

Tariff codes are an integral part of international shipping. Here's everything you need to know so you can avoid any delays at customs.
Everything You Need to Know About a Tariff Code
Alexandra Ortolani

By Alexandra Ortolani


September 16, 2021

Tariff codes, or harmonized system (HS) codes, are an integral part of cross-border shipping. Almost every shippable product is assigned a tariff code as part of a worldwide classification system laid out by the World Customs Organization. Customs agents use these six to 10-digit codes to evaluate the content of imported and exported shipments, meaning that the proper code must be on your official shipping documents.

Without it, your international shipment will be delayed at customs and may face additional processing fees. If you’re dedicated to timely delivery, you want to include the right code for all your cross-border shipments.

Easyship actually generates all customs paperwork for your international shipments automatically, including the proper codes. This way, your shipments clear customs without a hiccup to arrive on time, every time.

Table of Contents

What’s a Tariff Code?

A tariff code is a six to ten-digit code that represents a product category in a worldwide classification system used by customs authorities worldwide. Often called a harmonized code or HS code, these numbers are used to classify the contents of imported and exported goods.

This six to 10-digit number allows customs authorities to determine your shipment contents, then assess the correct duty and/or tax due, if any. This number gets used in international shipping documents in various ways, including:

  • Complete required shipping documents like commercial invoices or certificates of origin
  • Calculate the import duty and tax rates for your shipments
  • Classify items for importing to a foreign country
  • Comply with US laws and regulations
  • Determine if there any special rulings for your product

Say you want to ship a guitar to the United Kingdom. You’ll use the US Census Bureau search engine to search for the tariff code assigned to a guitar, as shown below.

The tariff code for a guitar is 9202.90.3000. The numbers in a tariff code aren’t random but correspond to various classification schedules that are broken down into sections. For example:

  • 92.02: Other string musical instruments (guitars, violins, harps)
  • 9202.90: Other
  • 9202.90.3000: Guitars

It’s important to enter these numbers accurately on your customs paperwork. An error can lead to delays from a shipment inspection.

How to Look Up Your Tariff Code

No need to search high and low for your tariff code. The Census Bureau offers a free online search tool so you can classify your products in just a few clicks. Alternatively, you can search the full World Customs Organization HS code database but with a paid description.

Say you want to find our tariff code for a dress. First, you have to describe your product, which in this case would be “dress.” From there, you’re asked to fill out the construction, composition, gender category for your product.

Once the known characteristics of the product are filled out, we can receive the ten-digit tariff code. Below is a screenshot of the breakdown for the unique tariff code for a dress: 6104.49.0000.

Wondering what you’ll pay in duty and tax to import that dress? Try Easyship’s duty and tax calculator to get you an instant estimate of all import fees for any item to any country.

How to Add Tariff Number in Easyship

Adding your tariff number in Easyship is a piece of cake. Your tariff number is automatically added to your international shipping documents based on your pre-loaded item category.

With Easyship, all the vital customs documents needed for international shipment are generated for you, including:

  • Shipping labels
  • Packing slips
  • Customs declarations

Say you’re shipping a gaming console with games from the United States to the United Kingdom. After specifying the item’s selling price and product category, we can get a free quote in our free duty and tax calculator.

As we can see, there’s a 20% tax rate on this product category for a total import tax of $100.00. There is also no duty rate for this product category. Keep in mind that every country is subject to different duties and tax rates. With visibility of all import costs, you can avoid any delays at customs and customer disappointments, as a result.

How Easyship Can Help

Tariff codes are an integral part of cross-border shipping. Without it, your international shipment may be delayed at customs 一 and no one wants that. That’s why connecting with a reliable shipping platform comes in handy.

Easyship can streamline your international shipping processes, hassle-free. Now, you don’t need to worry about any human-error mistakes when it comes to filling out important shipping documents. Our automated label generator does all the hard work for you, all you need to do is print what you need.

Plus, our free duties and tax calculator can calculate the duties and taxes in just a few clicks. Get a quick estimate of your taxes and duties when shipping internationally. Quotes are based on your shipment weight, value, and product type.

Ready to ship internationally? Learn how you can automate your taxes and duties with Easyship when you sign up for a free account today.

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