Products shipped internationally may be subject to duties (tariffs), taxes, and other fees that are assessed by customs authorities. These duties and other trade restrictions can hinder a company’s ability to conduct international business: a high tariff may make a product too expensive to be competitive; a quota may limit the possibility of importing or exporting goods to a specific country.

With an accurate, and up-to-date, tariff database, shippers can reliably approximate the duty rates on their products to better gauge potential costs in their supply chain. Experts and brokers can also use a tariff database to assist in the classification of their products.

What is a Tariff Database?

A tariff database can be one of two things: an online reference tool or a local trade database.

  1. Local Database Local tariff and trade databases are used to expedite item classification and better demonstrate reasonable care.
  2. Reference Database Online tariff databases exist as research tools to provide accurate duty rate estimates. Online databases allow businesses access to up-to-data applied and preferential rates in order to quickly make determinations.

Duty Rates:

While tariff databases can offer an accurate estimate for an individual item’s duty rate, the actual duty rate of imported or exported items may vary from expectations. For example, courts ruled in 2017 that a “well-made, durable, dry clean only Santa Claus costume” is properly classified as wearing apparel rather than a festive article. Duty rates are assessed by customs authorities after the shipper has accurately declared the classification and value of the goods. This is why correct classification determinations are vital.

How Descartes Can Help

Descartes CustomsInfo provides tools for both types of tariff databases as well as offering solutions to deliver better quality classification determinations in a complaint and defendable format.

With Descartes Customs Info™ Reference and Descartes Customs Info™ Manager, businesses can accurately assess what duties may exist on their imported or exported goods and build a local tariff database to increase efficient item classification and item-level compliance.

Powered by a sizable database of over 6 million reference documents, Descartes Customs Info™ Reference supplies a single access point where companies can access up-to-date information regarding existing duties. Utilizing this information provides the opportunity for substantial savings on a business’ global supply chain.