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What are commodity codes and how do I find mine?




A tariff code, also referred to as commodity codes, is a product-specific code which allows countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes. As an importer or exporter, you are responsible for classifying your goods so the correct amount pf import VAT, duty, excise or levies due on them are collected by the importing country.


Not classifying your goods correctly can lead you to pay the incorrect amount of duties as well as fine and penalties such as the loss of your licences and other special procedures. 

The first six digits of the code (the HS code – Harmonised System) is managed by the World Customs Organisation and is used by more than 200 countries. The final 4 digits will be country specific, and the local tariff must be consulted to determine the correct code. You must have a 8-digit code for exports and 10-digits for imports. 


In the UK, you can use the UK Integrated Online Tariff to classify your goods here. To check overseas classification, the UK government has developed a new tool which replaced the Market Access Database from the EU once we left the Customs Union and you can check the classification of your goods by using the tool here.  


How to I classify my goods?  


Codes are broken down in Chapters according to the type of goods, there are 99 Chapters currently which are then broken down in Chapter Headings, Sub-heading, etc.  

To classify your goods, you can follow the General Rules for the Interpretation (GRI) – these are a set of principles used for the classification of goods. There are six rules, which you can find here on the WCO website. Once you have tried all six rules and if you are unable to find a code which applies to your product, you can request an Advanced Tariff Ruling from HMRC. This is a legally binding decision which must be made prior to exporting or importing.   


How can we help? 


Whilst our International Trade Team can not provide a legally binding ruling, we can offer guidance on your goods’ classification through our professional advice services. Please contact us on exportbritain@gmchamber.co.uk for further information.  


We also run regular training courses on Understanding Tariff Codes, our next one will be on 6th March 2024. Please see here for more information and to register.  

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