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Customs Classifications 101 - Let's go back to basics.

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

The Customs industry is no stranger to a commodity code. The 10-digit code can tell you exactly what an item is, without even seeing it.

The Harmonized Tariff System came into play in 1988 and has since been developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO), with over 200 member countries following the HS System.


The Structure

A Commodity Code is a set of numbers made up of 8-10 digits. The commodity code determines:

  • the customs duties and other charges levied on the goods

  • the preferential treatments that may apply to their import

  • the restrictions and prohibitions that may apply to the import, export, or transit of the goods.

Here is an example of a commodity code and how it is broken down:


FUN FACT: There is no Chapter 77.

In theory, it should fall to some type of metal as chapter 76 is Aluminium and articles thereof, and 78 is Lead and articles thereof.

Those who developed the tariff have supposedly left open this chapter to 'any substance that cannot be classified elsewhere'. So maybe it's for some sort of metal found at the bottom of the ocean, or even on Mars?


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