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Mapping Harmonized System (HS) Codes: Quickly Find Global Equivalents

On: June 24, 2024    |    By: Kari Crane Kari Crane    |    5 min. read

Mapping Harmonized System (HS) Codes Quickly Find Global EquivalentsImagine spending hours, maybe even days, meticulously classifying your product for import or export, only to discover that the code you identified isn’t recognized in the country you're importing from or shipping to. The frustration of having to repeat this complex process for each destination can be overwhelming. What if there was a way to streamline this task?

Shipping Solutions Product Classification Software, which includes a powerful HS Mapping tool, is designed to solve this exact problem. With our software, you can enter the HS number for one country and instantly find the corresponding classification code for another, complete with default duty rates. In this article, I’ll explain how the software works or, if you decide to take on this task manually, what you need to understand. 

Understanding the Harmonized System (HS)

The Harmonized System (HS) is an internationally standardized system used to classify traded products. It serves as the backbone of international trade, facilitating uniformity and consistency in the classification of goods. It is used by more than 200 countries, and over 98% of the merchandise in international trade is classified in terms of HS. 

The HS is a six-digit standard, called a subheading. While these numbers are uniform across the globe, many governments add additional digits to the HS number to further distinguish products in certain categories. And here’s the catch: These additional digits are typically different in every country.

The U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (USHTS)

The HTS code is the 10-digit import classification system specific to the United States. An HTS code takes the same form as an HS code for the first six digits, then has four differing last digits. If you are a U.S. importer, this is the code you must use. (Learn more: HTS Codes: The Importer’s Ultimate Guide.)

Schedule B Codes for U.S. Export

The Schedule B is the export classification system of the United States. A Schedule B code is 10 digits long. As with HTS codes, the first six digits of a Schedule B code should be the same as an HS number; however, the last four digits may be different even than the HTS code. Companies that export can use the appropriate Schedule B or HTS code on their export paperwork, but do keep in mind that there are certain HTS codes that can’t be used for exporting. (Learn more in HS Codes, HTS Codes and Schedule B Codes: What's the Difference?)

HTS Codes of Other Countries

Similar to the U.S., other countries also extend the 6-digit HS codes to 8 or more digits to accommodate their national needs and policies. But as I explained earlier, other countries may use different extra digits. This is where HS mapping comes in.  

The Mapping Process with Our Product Classification Software

Shipping Solutions Product Classification Software includes an HS Mapping tool that allows you to enter the 10-digit HTS code (or the 10-digit Schedule B number) for one country (like the United States) and find the corresponding 10-digit number for another country. Because the 10-digit classification numbers are usually different in every country, the HS Mapping tool may display more than one potential corresponding HS number in the second country. You can then choose the number that best fits your product.

HS Mapping Germany

In this example, the 10-digit Schedule B code in the U.S. for “Umbrella frames, including frames mounted on shafts (sticks),”—6603.20.3000—was used to find the corresponding code to import the umbrellas into Germany. The Product Classification Software's mapping tool tells you the correct code is 66032000000 (slightly different from the code in the U.S.). It also tells you that the default duty rate in Germany is 5.2%. 

HS Mapping

Click on the magnifying glass to see that the GSP duty rate is 1.7% and there's a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 19%. Scroll down to see the duty rates under other trade agreements. 

Learn More

HS codes and national extensions are periodically updated, so remember that you’re not off the hook after you find the correct code the first time—you need to regularly double-check them. Finding the right classification for your product and then mapping the code between countries is time-consuming without the right tools in place. Our Product Classification Software, which includes the HS mapping tool, makes it easy. You can give it a try for free!

And if you’d like to learn more about product classification, you’ll find these whitepapers and articles useful: 

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Kari Crane

About the Author: Kari Crane

Kari Crane is the editor of Passages: The International Trade Blog. Kari joined Shipping Solutions after working as an editor, writer and designer at a major market newspaper in Texas. Kari has spent her career finding different ways to tell stories and make complex topics easy-to-understand, so she loves helping importers and exporters understand how to navigate the complex world of international trade.

Are you confused by the different types of import-export product classifications?

If so, you’re not alone. Download this free guide to understand the differences between Harmonized System (HS), Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and Schedule B Codes.

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