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Who should be responsible for HS codes at Import?

By Jenny Hooper, May 13, 2019, Category: General News

The answer is normally you as the importer of record.

Unfortunately, some customers often assume wrongly that their supplier is responsible for ensuring the correct HS code is declared at import and that the Freight Forwarder/Customs Broker should then use this information to clear the goods. Although the supplier may play an important role in helping to determine the correct code and as the freight forwarder we will always check this to see if it looks incorrect – it can be quite dangerous to assume that your supplier is using the correct code.

HS Codes are grouped into 97 “product” chapters and the commodity code that relates to your imported goods determines the following:

  • The rate of import duty and VAT to be paid
  • Information for trade statistics
  • import restrictions on the goods
  • preferential trade agreement
  • Whether there are any trade policy measures affecting the import of the goods, e.g. ADD, Tariff Quotas (TQ), etc.

Each product has its own unique tariff code and this is harmonised throughout the world, however, only the first 6 digits of the code are actually ‘harmonised’. The last 4 digits will be unique to each country or in our case currently the EU. Therefore we will often find that a supplier will use their 10 digit code on the paperwork especially on shipments imported from the USA which might be different to the 10 digit code used in the EU/UK Tariff. This can lead to goods being incorrectly classified.

Therefore we recommend that customers carry out a regular review of the codes they are using at import and have some kind of system to indicate how they have arrived at these codes as HMRC will want to see evidence should they carry out and Customs Audit.

As a valued customer of ours, we are always happy to help you check your codes and to ensure that these are communicated to us correctly.

If you would like to discuss your codes with us then please do not hesitate to contact us as this will become even more important in the future post Brexit regardless of what Brexit actually looks like!

For more information on this please do not hesitate to contact us on 02476 343037.

Please call us on

+44 (0) 247 6343 037

For more information on Imports and Exports after Brexit, one of our freight experts will be happy to help.


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