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What is an HTS Code?

  
  
  

What is an HTS Code?

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) is the mechanism by which international tariffs are standardized. If you ship items overseas, you are required to classify them according to the harmonized system. Each country has its own Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS).

The description and coding system of global tariffs is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying products. The first 6 digits of any HTS code is (in theory) the same for any country. Beyond the the six digit level, individual countries sometimes have different rules for classification. Importers and Exporters the world over must classify all goods moved across international borders using the Harmonized System of the country of import. Every item you sell must be assigned an HTS code according to the Customs tariff schedule of the country from which you are selling.

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is organized into 22 sections and 99 chapters, accompanied with general rules of interpretation and explanatory notes.

Anatomy of an HTS Code

The first 4 – 6 digits reflect the international nomenclature. At the eight digit level, the US can subdivide the classification for rates of duty and other purposes. The final two digits at the ten digit level are for statistical purposes. All US exporters are required to classify their products to the ten digit level.

Edit: Thank you to Mr Wind for pointing out my errors. The two digit level is the Chapter; four digit level is the heading; six digit and onward are the subheadings. Subchapters are not included in the HTS but are for reference only. 

HTS Code Diagram

Here's an example of a Subheading:

HTS Subchapter example

The HTS Code is only part of the story though. In order to properly classify your products, you have to follow the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) including any additional rules specific to the US. 

Find HTS Code

Comments

The references used are wrong: 
two digits: Chapter 
four digits: heading 
six digits: subheading 
further subdivisions: subheading 
Chapter 1 refers to 'Live animals' 
Heading 01.01 covers Live horses, asses, mules and hinnies 
Subheading 0101.21 refers to Pure-bred breeding horses 
Sub-Chapters can be found in e.g., Chapter 28: Sub-Chapter I: Chemical elements 
Titles of Sub-Chapters are for reference only and do not have legal force.
Posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 2:41 PM by IW
Thanks Mr. Wind, I've made corrections according to your comment.
Posted @ Thursday, February 09, 2012 4:51 PM by Bryce Hanson
Is the hts code the same as the instrastat code number?
Posted @ Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:08 PM by jackie corso
The HTS code is the same as the first 6 digits of the intrastat code.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:21 PM by Bryce Hanson
What is the relationship between Schedule B numbers and the HTS Code? thanks so much for the great information!
Posted @ Friday, March 22, 2013 10:51 AM by Mary Harrington
The Schedule B is for classifying exports and the HTS code is used for classifying imports. Both the Sch. B and HTS numbers use The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) of tariff nomenclature, so the first 6 digits should be the same for both.
Posted @ Friday, March 22, 2013 11:42 AM by Bryce
Note #1 to Chapter 63 reads: "Sub chapter 1 applies only to made up articles,...". What does this mean?
Posted @ Thursday, May 16, 2013 3:32 PM by RC
@ RC. Not sure what exactly you want to know, but here are my suggestions. 
 
Chapter 63 is subdivided in three parts ("Sub-Chapters"): part 1: headings 63.01 to 63.07, part 2: heading 63.08 and part 3: headings 63.09 and 63.10. Sub-chapters II and II may also cover "non made up" articles, whereas Sub-Chapter I is restricted to "madeup" articles. This is reflected in the Note with a view to avoiding possible conflicts in scope of the headings at issue. 
See for the scope of titles of Sub-Chapters, GIR 1. 
 
The expression "made up" is defined in Note 7 to Section XI and marks the demarcation line between, roughly speaking, Chapters 50 to 55 and 60 on the one hand, and Chapters 61 to 63 on the other. Chapters 56 to 59 are a mix of headings covering "made up" articles and headings which do not cover such articles.
Posted @ Monday, May 27, 2013 8:36 AM by Izaak Wind
Great article, it was very helpful to me, congrats.
Posted @ Saturday, June 21, 2014 12:15 AM by cecili
Can anybody recommend a source which can assist in determining the correct HTS code for my product? I product paper posters that come with a handheld magnifier to read the content, which is printed very small.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2:40 PM by clifford spielman
If an exporter is based in USA and he is exporting to Mexico, which HTS code should the goods have? HTS-US or HTS-MX?
Posted @ Monday, November 24, 2014 1:31 AM by Mohammad Haider
Hi Mohammad, 
 
From my understanding, the goods would be classified twice. Each item would have and Export Code and an Import code. Sometimes they are the same digits, it just depends on the country and the item. Export codes for the US are classified using Schedule B. The Import code would use the Importing country's HTS as a guide for classification. So to answer your question, you would use the HTS-MX to classify the goods for import into mexico. 
 
Another third level to consider is that just because the exporter is based in the US, doesn't mean that the goods originate from the US. You would need to consult the Rules of Origin to determine the proper duty rates and whatnot.
Posted @ Monday, November 24, 2014 11:12 AM by Bryce Hanson
Hi Bryce, Many thanks for your insights. Found your article above to be very useful. and this comment of yours actually helped clear another doubt i had.
Posted @ Monday, November 24, 2014 12:00 PM by Mohammad Haider
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