Compliance information for meeting government agency and shipping company requirements is always more detailed for export products than when selling similar products to a domestic market. This compliance information is transferred in certificates of origin, commercial invoices, and NAFTA certificate of origin if shipping to Canada or Mexico, among other product-specific export documentation.
The first requirement is to determine your product classification. Every product imported and exported is assigned a classification code corresponding to the type of product. These codes are used for statistical-reporting purposes by countries worldwide and also used by custom officials to determine tariffs. Under the Foreign Trade Regulations, exporters are legally required to include the correct classification code on export documentation.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) codes are used to classify products for customs. The use of these standardized codes ensures that custom officials are referring to the same item when classifying the product for tariff rates.
The HS assigns a specific six-digit code to classify all products or commodities with the country option to create an additional four-digit code to provide more product detail. In the US, a 10-digit code is used to classify products and is referred to as the Schedule B number.
For example, HS code and Schedul B number to export women’s knitted wool sweaters:
62.10 ...Sweaters or similar, knitted
62.10.11 ... Of wool HS
62.10.11. 0020 ... women’s wool Schedule B
Exporters need to know the product HS code and Schedule B number:
Exporters can find the Schedule B number by using the free online Schedule B search at http://www.census.gov/scheduleb