The Harmonized System
All import and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized System (HS). The HS assigns 6-digit codes for general categories. This 6-digit code is known as the Harmonized System number.
Countries that use the HS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits, however all definitions must be within that 6-digit framework. The U.S., for example, defines products using 10-digit codes in its Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS).
Export codes, also known as Schedule B numbers, are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).
Harmonized System (HS) and Schedule B numbers
Harmonized System (HS) numbers are used to classify products for customs purposes. By international agreement, most countries recognize the same first 6 "harmonized" digits.
To get a duty rate, one needs to have the complete product number used by the importing country. Since this is sometimes difficult, companies can use the Schedule B number to approximate.
Schedule B Numbers are used to classify exported products in the United States and are based on the international HS system. HS numbers and Schedule B numbers will be the same up to the first 6 digits as the importing country's classification code.
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. The Schedule B number is needed to complete the Shipper’s Export Declaration, Certificates of Origin and other shipping documents; and
3. The HS Number may be needed on shipping documents, such as certificates of origin
How to identify your product’s Schedule B number
The Census Bureau sponsors a free online tool called the Schedule B Search Engine and this instructional video to help you classify your products. The Schedule B search tool is the most commonly used method for classifying products. Click "search" and enter a "descriptive keyword" that best describes your product. To learn more about the Schedule B search engine see the Census Bureau's Frequently Asked Questions.
If you require assistance with the search engine, please contact the Census Bureau toll free at 1-800-549-0595.
After consulting the Search Engine, you can obtain further assistance on Schedule B numbers from a commodity specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division:
Durable goods (metals, machinery, computer, electronic and other miscellaneous goods) call: 301-763-3259
Non-durable goods (food, animal, wood, paper, mineral, chemical and textile goods) call: 301-763-3484
For assistance identifying your appropriate HS number you may also contact your local Export Assistance Center or call the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USATRAD(E).
If you are having difficulty determining your Schedule B number, you may also want to review the Customs Rulings (CROSS) database.
The Census Bureau produces The Schedule B: Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States that can be ordered from the Government Printing Office by calling 202-512-1800. The stock number is 903-009-00000-4. The CD-ROM version can also be purchased from the Census Bureau by calling 301-457-1086.