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The international Harmonized System (HS) is administrated by the World Customs Organization and serves as the foundation for the import and export classification systems used in the United States. The United States (U.S.) import classification system, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) administered by the U.S. International Trade Administration Commission (USITC), and the U.S. export classification system, the Schedule B administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, both rely on the international HS codes for their 4- and 6-digit headings and subheadings. The World Customs Organization updates the HS System approximately every five years. The year 2012 marked the most recent HS revision, meaning the next revision will not be due until 2017.
Since greater commodity detail are needed than the 4- and 6-digit HS headings and subheadings, Harmonized System (HS) codes under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and Schedule B classification systems expand their scope to 10 digits. HS numbers and Schedule B numbers will be the same up to the first 6 digits as the importing country's classification code.
Harmonized System (HS) and Schedule B numbers
A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number used in the United States to classify physical goods for export to another country. The Schedule B is based on the international Harmonized System (HS) of 6-digit commodity classification codes. There is a Schedule B number for every physical product, from paperclips to airplanes.
Schedule B numbers are administered and used by the U.S. Commerce Department, Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division to collect and publish the U.S. export statistics. Schedule B numbers are required to be reported in the Automated Export System (AES) when shipments are valued over $2,500 or the item requires a license.
You can find your Schedule B number using the free online Schedule B Search accessible through www.census.gov/scheduleb. If you need export classification assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-549-0595, Menu Option #2.
To get a duty rate for importing products into a foreign country, one needs to have the complete classification number used by the importing country. Since this is sometimes difficult, companies can use the Schedule B number to approximate.
Why you need to know your product’s Schedule B and HS numbers
Exporters need to know their product’s Schedule B and HS numbers for the following reasons:
1. To determine applicable import tariff rates and whether a product qualifies for a preferential tariff under a Free Trade Agreement;
2. To file the Electronic Export Information in the Automated Export System (AES); and
3. To complete shipping documents, such as certificates of origin.