Classify your commodity

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How the Government classifies goods

Taxes can be imposed on any goods that are moved across a political boundary, and local customs authorities enforce their collection. The calculation of duties depends on the assessable value of a dutiable shipment. For the purpose of determining this estimate, dutiable goods in the shipment are given a classification code (up to ten digits) known as a Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code, Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) or Schedule B number.

Goods are not classified by their use, stage of manufacture or place of origin, but rather by the category under which they fall. Some examples of these are:

  • Mineral products
  • Plastics and rubber
  • Raw hides, skins, leathers
  • Wood and straw
  • Textile
  • Stone, plaster and cement

When determining a classification code, commodity descriptions might appear to be similar, but they can have significantly different rates of duty. The more information you have about your product, the easier it will be to find the proper code and help your shipment get through customs smoothly. U.S. Customs might apply variable duties after initial entry – when estimated duties were paid or when an entry was audited – causing a change in the duty owed.

Obtain a commodity classification code using DHL Trade Automation Services.


Exporting Dual-Use Goods

The Commerce Control List (CCL) contains commodities that could have dual-uses. Dual-use commodities generally have both commercial and military applications. The U.S. controls these items to support national security and foreign policy.

Find out if your shipment’s goods (commodities) have an associated Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). Exportation of these commodities needs to be controlled and may require you to obtain a license for export.

An ECCN is a different classification from a Schedule B number or a Harmonized Tariff Schedule code. ECCNs are organized by a five character alphanumeric system. These items are categorized based on the type of commodity (the nature of the product) such as software or technology, and its respective technical parameters.

Once logged into DHL Trade Automation Services (TAS), use the Interactive Classifier Tool found under TAS Resources to find out if your commodity has dual-uses. You can select Code Type ECCN with your commodity details.