The Harmonized System (HS) Code is a multipurpose international product classification system developed by the World Customs Organization.
We are living in a world where every day the amount and frequency of international trade is increasing. This is a sphere that is rapidly developing. The enormous volume and infinite variety of goods being shipped across international borders has driven customs authorities to look for new ways of ensuring regulatory and revenue compliance.
There are 3 main functions of the HS Code:
- Import/export statistics instrument
- Monetary (trade taxes)
- Regulatory (conformity assessment)
The HS Code is the common standard worldwide for describing types of commodities. Every commodity that enters or crosses most international borders must be declared to customs using this code. This helps in standardizing the codes worldwide. Sometimes codes can differ from one country to another in their ending digits. For example, Customs Union HS codes (the codes that are used in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan) usually differ from the European ones in the last two digits. But the core classification idea is the same worldwide and is set in the first 4 or 6 digits in the HS code, which determines the product type, industry, destination, etc.
The code includes about 5,000 commodity groups. The system is used by more than 200 countries and economies as the basis for their customs tariffs and for collecting international trade statistics. Over 98% of the merchandise in international trade is classified according to the HS.
The HS Code is also extensively used by governments, international organizations, and the private sector for many other purposes, such as internal taxes (giving an idea of what taxes should be paid to the government when importing or exporting products), 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 regulatory function can be clearly traced in the Customs Union certification system (EAC) because almost all Technical Regulations of the Customs Union are connected to the HS Code system. This means that the certification procedure depends on the HS code applied to a certain product, as the HS code affects the type of approval document, whether it will be the Declaration of Conformity or the Certificate of Conformity. So, it is very important to use the correct HS code before submitting a request for certification.
The HS is thus a universal economic language and code for goods, as well as an indispensable tool for international trade.