HS Code, which is short for The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, is a worldwide standardized system of codes for determining a type of commodity that is shipped. In every country around the world, commodities that are shipped through their borders have to be declared using these codes.
This type of standardization makes identifying commodities easy, efficient, and identical across all countries around the world. Thus, HS Codes help to standardize and identify cargo in the same manner whether it is in the USA, Asia, South America, Europe, or any other part of the world.
Developed and managed by the World Customs Organization, the HS Code:
- consists of 5,000 commodity groups covered in 99 Chapters containing 21 Sections;
- is identified by a six-digit code;
- is arranged in a legal and logical structure; and
- is supported by well-defined rules to achieve uniform classification all over the world
This tutorial will cover how to find 6-digit HS Codes and where to input them in ShipMonk.
Step 1. Pick a product that needs an HS Code and be sure to identify as many characteristics as possible about that item. There are numerous subtypes for certain classifications of commodities so the more you know about your product, the more accurate the code you select.
For this tutorial, we chose this Rolex watch from the inventory catalog in our demo account.
Now we need to take mental note of the watch's characteristics:
- The watch is made of precious metal
- It's an automatic winding watch
- It's a wrist watch (vs a pocket watch)
Step 2. Go on Canada Post's HS Code Lookup Tool. We recommend this particular tool because it's very easy and intuitive to use. Remember that 6-digit HS Codes are universally applicable in all countries so using an HS Code lookup tool for another country is perfectly fine as they will all yield the same results.
Step 3. Select the destination country from the drop-down menu and in the box under "Item Description" type in a one or two word description of your product. Lastly, click "Find".
For this tutorial, we selected "United States" from the drop-down menu and typed in "Watch" in the "Item Description" section.
Step 4. Follow along and answer any additional prompts you're asked to complete. These prompts are why we needed to take mental note of the characteristics of your product as they're necessary to accurately answer the questions.
Notice for the tutorial, we selected "precious metals" as this Rolex is made of white gold and "wrist watch" because it's a watch worn on the wrist and not a pocket watch. For the section asking about power sources, we specified "other" and answered that it's "automatic winding" as Rolex's are mechanical, automatic winding watches.
Step 5. Retrieve your 6-digit HS Code.
For this tutorial, the 6-digit code for an automatic winding wristwatch made of precious metal is 9101.21
Step 6. Go to the "Product Details" page of your product on ShipMonk and scroll to the "Additional Options" section. In the section titled HS code (schedule B number), enter in the 6-digit code you've been given. Then, click "Save" on the bottom right-hand corner.
You're done! Repeat these steps for any additional products needing HS Codes.
*Please note that if you're unsure if the HS code you were given is correct, you could reach out to the Customs Department of your home country or your destination country for clarification*