Grow your international business with DHL Express Reach 220 territories across the world

Apply for a business account

Most Popular


Add Discover to your home screen

For the latest insights from Global business

Add now
No thanks
HS code


HS code


The Harmonized System (HS) code is a categorization system created, developed, and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO). Every commodity is tagged to an HS code, and the code assigned to it is internationally recognized in almost every country and is commonly used in customs to clear shipments.

Each HS code comprises of six digits. The first two digits identify the chapter of which the HS code falls under. There are a total of 21 chapters, each chapter provides a description to generalize the category. The next 4 digits comprise of the heading and sub-heading within the chapter.

ASEAN countries follow the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) – where the first six digits still take reference from the international HS codes, but there is an additional two digits at the end that further breaks down the sub-headings. Commodities shipped within ASEAN normally use the eight digit AHTN classification, but the 6 digit HS codes are also considered valid.

You can visit ( and search for any of your commodity. When in doubt it is best to seek expert advice and let our Certified International Specialist classify your products.

DHL will refer to the invoice provided for HS Code classification by the shipper. If there is no classification done, DHL will use the Malaysian Customs Duties Order to classify the items in the shipment to the best of our knowledge. DHL will classify the shipments using a 10 digit HS Code based on the Customs Duties Order 2017.

The HS contributes to the harmonization of Customs and trade procedures, and the non-documentary trade data interchange in connection with such procedures, thus reducing the costs related to international trade.

HS Code is also extensively used by governments, international organizations and the private sector for many other purposes such as internal taxes, trade policies, monitoring of controlled goods, rules of origin, freight tariffs, transport statistics, price monitoring, quota controls, compilation of national accounts, and economic research and analysis. The HS is thus a universal economic language and code for goods, and an indispensable tool for international trade.

Each HS code structure comprises of six digits. The first two digits identify the chapter of which the HS code falls under. There are a total of 21 chapters, each chapter provides a description to generalize the category. The next 4 digits comprise of the heading and sub-heading within the chapter.

You can visit ( and search for any of your commodity.

The Harmonized System (HS) is used by more than 200 countries and economies as a basis for their Customs tariffs and for the collection of international trade statistics. It is also used for many other purposes, including for the monitoring of controlled goods, as a basis of rules of origin and for trade negotiations, and it is a vital element of core Customs controls and procedures.

This publication contains the list of countries, territories or customs or economic unions applying the HS. 

Incorrectly classifying a product can lead to overpayment/underpayment of duties, non-compliance penalties, shipment delays, failure to utilize free trade agreements or used in error, seizure of the products, or even a denial of import/export privileges. As the exporter of the products, you are responsible for correctly classifying them, and therefore you are liable.

When in doubt it is best to seek expert advice and let our Certified International Specialist classify your products. Read more about our customs services.

You can find the HS Code for your product with the Tariff Classification tool from JKDM HS Explorer or seek expert advice and let our Certified International Specialist classify your products for export.

Similarly, to move goods in and out of the US, you can use the US Census Bureau’s Schedule B search tool or the US International Trade Commission’s HTS search tool to find your HTS Code.

For the UK, you can use the Trade Tariff tool, provided you  know the type of your product, the material used to make it, and its production method.

Over 98 % of the merchandise in international trade is classified in terms of the HS. However, HS code can go beyond the WCO-prescribed six digits. 

This is because countries are allowed to add more digits to the original six-digit code for further classification. These additional digits typically vary from country to country to categorize and define commodities at more detailed level without modifying or changing first six digits.

For example in United States, 10-digit codes are used where the first six digits are the WCO-provided HS code. The US code is called a Schedule B number for export goods and a Harmonised Tariff Schedule (HTS) code for import goods. 

Similarly, in India, goods for export and import have an eight-digit code called an Indian Tariff Code (ITC). This system has two schedules – Schedule I for imports and Schedule II for exports.

Yes, HS Code is required on the commercial invoice and other shipping documents. Otherwise, you’ll risk the receiver paying the wrong tax and could possibly delay the shipment.

Tariff classifications can be open to interpretation, which can result in a shipment being misclassified. Regardless of the reason, misclassified shipments can have multiple adverse consequences including:

  • Overpayment/Underpayment of duties
  • Failure to utilize free trade agreements or used in error
  • Lead fines, liquidation and other penalties
  • Unexpected customs clearance delays
  • Seizure of the products
  • Denial of import/export privileges

HS codes are used to classify and define goods traded internationally to determine rate of duty, eligibility for exemptions, qualification for approved manufacturer/assembler tariff provisions and calculation of any other additional taxes (e.g. excise).

HS Code declaration is based on the commodity that is being shipped. DHL is required to ensure declaration of HS Code is referred to the invoice provided. 

However, if there is no HS Code indicated in the invoice, DHL Express will declare a shipment HS Code to be best of their knowledge. 

Any duties and tax incurred above RM1000, DHL will refer back to the customer before we proceed with clearance. As such if the approval has been provided by the customer, the importer will be liable to pay the duties and tax for clearance of the shipment. 

If there is any short payment due to wrong HS Code during importation, customs have 7 years from the time of importation to seek the outstanding amount from the importer.

Any amendment after a shipment has been cleared has to be approved by the State Customs Director on a case by case basis.

It is important to engage with customs broker to determine if the HS Code on the commercial invoice is correct. 

Customs classification is the numbered category in a country’s customs tariff schedule to which goods being imported or exported are determined to belong for the purpose of

  • Imposing duties and taxes
  • Recording into the country’s international trade statistics

Most countries classify goods in accordance with the harmonized commodity description and coding system, popularly known as harmonized system. 

It also serves to ensure that the goods are not listed under prohibited import and export items of the Customs Order (Prohibition Regarding Imports) or (Prohibition Regarding Exports) or vice versa.

If a specific item has a customs ruling on its HS Code classification, the clearance of the shipment will always refer to the customs ruling. The customs ruling will provide ease of clearance with station customs officers. No Customs Officer can overrule the customs ruling issued by Customs HQ.

Shipments that go through cross border trading are required to be classified based on their product. The Harmonized System (HS) Code at a 6 digit level is developed and maintained by World Customs Organization (WCO). 

The HS Code has been adopted and applicable by most of the country worldwide. It is then used to classify the products that are being imported or exported.

The HS Codes is then used to determine the duties and tax rates, control and restrictions as well as any rules of origin applicable to the country. 

Subscribe to the Discover newsletter

  • Fortnightly insights, tips and free assets
  • We never share your data
  • Shape a global audience for your business
  • Unsubscribe any time

Serious about taking your brand global?

Reach 220 territories across the world

  • Easy Shipping
  • Preferential Business Rates
  • Exclusive Tools
  • Trusted Network
Apply for a business account