UK tariff: How to classify products – and an outlook to HS 2022
Product classification

UK tariff: How to classify products – and an outlook to HS 2022

No import or export without commodity code – it is needed in every customs declaration. Find out more about the UK tariff and the upcoming changes with HS 2022.

What is the commodity code?

Commodity codes identify products or groups of products in international commerce. Customs authorities use these numbers to determine the duties and taxes for specific goods. But even though the commodity code builds upon the international Harmonized System (HS), only the first six digits are applied worldwide. Product-specific decisions are particular to each country.

The Harmonized System has six general interpretative rules that must be analyzed in strict order and comprise of the following:

  • First 2 digits: HS Chapter
  • Next 2 digits: HS Heading
  • Next 2 digits: HS Subheading
Note: If you rely on the commodity code from an overseas supplier, you’ll need to check if the treatment is the same and how much of the code applies in the UK.

How to get a formal legally binding decision in the UK

When you classify your products within the UK tariff, you will also find out about duties, VAT rates, licences and potential duty reliefs and quotas. You can ask HMRC to give you a legally binding decision on your goods, this is often referred to as a BTI (Binding Tariff Information). You may want to consider this if

  • your goods are hard to classify and informal advice is not suitable for you or your business
  • you have to classify a new type of product (this will be the first time the product will have ever been classified)

If you want to check first if a decision has already been made on goods that are similar to yours, you can search for previous rulings:

Advance Tariff Rulings for Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland)

European Binding Tariff Information decisions for Northern Ireland

When asking for a legally binding decision, you must know that it is binding for the next three years (general validation). But it can take up to 120 days to be processed.

When you receive a ruling decision, you must declare the Advance Tariff Ruling reference in Box 44. For further questions you can also contact trffclssfctnhmrcgvk.

Apply for an Advance Tariff Ruling for Great Britain

Apply for a Binding Tariff Information decision for Northern Ireland

Quick, accurate, intuitive: commodity code classification software

Classify your goods the way you want – manually, semi-automatically, automatically. For import and export alike.

Brief look at HS 2022

HS 2022, which is the seventh edition of the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature, has been accepted by all Contracting Parties to the Harmonized System Convention. It shall enter into force on January 1, 2022. The new HS 2022 edition makes some major changes to the Harmonized System with a total of 351 sets of amendments covering a wide range of goods moving across borders.

Adaption to current trade through the recognition of new product streams and addressing environmental and social issues of global concern are the major features of the HS 2022 amendments. Here are some examples:

  • Electrical and electronic waste: HS 2022 includes specific provisions for its classification to assist countries in their work under the Basel Convention
  • Nicotine-based products and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): New provisions shall simplify the classification of these products
  • Smartphones: They gain their own subheadings
  • Glass fibres and metal forming machinery: Major reconfigurations have been undertaken
  • Multi-purpose intermediate assemblies: there will be more products in their own right such as flat panel display modules
  • Focus on health and safety
  • Goods specifically controlled under various Conventions have also been updated

The amendments will be effective from January 1, 2022.

WCO announcement about tariff changes

Overview of the changes – the accepted amendments to the HS (French/English)