Schedule B and HS Numbers

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When shipping a product overseas, the exporter must be aware of packing, labeling, documentation, and insurance requirements.

What is a Harmonized System (HS) classification number, the Schedule B number, and it there a difference between the two numbers?

The Harmonized System (HS) Classification is a 6-digit standardized numerical method of classifying traded products. HS numbers are used by customs authorities around the world to identify products for the application of duties and taxes. Additional digits are added to the HS number by some governments to further distinguish products in certain categories.

In the United States, numbers used to classify exported products are called "Schedule B" numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau administers the Schedule B system. Schedule B numbers, not HS numbers, must be provided on the Shippers' Export Declaration (SED). The Census Bureau uses SEDs and Schedule B numbers to calculate U.S. export statistics.

There is a difference between the HS classification number and the Schedule B number. The HS number is an internationally accepted code. The basic HS code contains 6-digits, known as a subheading. The Schedule B is a 10-digit code built upon the first 6 digits of the HS code. Additionally, the Schedule B code is a U.S.-specific coding system used by the U.S. Government to monitor U.S. exports.

To find your HS or Schedule B number, go to the Census Bureau website at http://www.census.gov/scheduleb to classify your own product through a keyword search.

If you require assistance in classifying your product, call the Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division at 1-800-549-0595.

Why do I need HS/Schedule B numbers and how can I find them?

The Harmonized System (HS) is an international product classification protocol used by customs officials for levying tariffs and controlling quotas on imported goods.

The U.S. uses a 10-digit Schedule B classification system that is based upon the Harmonized System. The first six digits of the Schedule B and Harmonized System numbers are the same.

Why do you need to know your product's Schedule B and HS numbers?

Exporters need to know their product's Schedule B and HS numbers to:

  • Determine applicable import tariff rates and whether a product qualifies for a preferential tariff under a Free Trade Agreement (the U.S. Schedule B number will be very similar, if not the same, as the importing country's HS number).
  • Complete the Shipper's Export Declaration, Certificates of Origin and other shipping documents.

How do you identify your product's Schedule B and HS numbers?

The Census Bureau sponsors a free online reference tool called the Schedule B Search Engine that can be used to 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.

For assistance with the search engine, please contact the Census Bureau toll free at 1-800-549-0595.

If, after consulting the Search Engine, you need additional assistance on Schedule B numbers, you may contact 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.

What's the purpose of the Schedule B search engine?

The Schedule B search engine allows users to search the Schedule B commodity book. Schedule B commodity codes are 10-digit numeric codes used to identify products that are exported to other countries. Each 10-digit code usually takes the form AABBCCDDDD and belongs to several groups. The 2-digit group is the first two digits (AA). The 4-digit group is the first four digits (AABB). The 6-digit group is the first six digits (AABBCC). They are similar to 10-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) codes (the import codes) in that the groups are the same up to the 6-digit level. At the 10-digit level, Schedule B codes and HTS codes can be different.

How does the Schedule B search work?

There are two files:

1. the Schedule B book, with the code numbers and full descriptions;

2. 6-digit Schedule B alpha index (with alternative descriptions).

The search with look for whatever phrase is entered in the search field. If CARBINE is entered in the search field, it will look for any entry with the word CARBINE. If COMBUSTION ENGINES is entered, it will look for COMBUSTION ENGINES. However, if a phrase is entered in the search field that does not exist in the search files, the search will yield no results. For instance, if the word COMPUTERS is entered, the search with yield nothing when searching the Schedule B files. However, when searching the 6-digit alpha index, it shows that computers are officially known as AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING MACHINES.

What exactly is searched with the Schedule B search?

The text of the 10-digit Schedule B codes are searched as well as an alphabetical index of the 6-digit Schedule B codes.

Does the Schedule B search look for data over the entire U.S. International Trade Statistics web site?

No. This search ONLY LOOKS FOR SCHEDULE B CODES. You cannot search for trade balances with other countries using this site.

What if I can't find what I'm looking for with the Schedule B search?

First, try searching on synonyms. Then, try searching on substrings. The word COMPUTERS may not show up in the Schedule B search, but the word COMPUTER will. If you have too many choices in the results, try searching the results page with the SEARCH PAGE option of your browser.

I already know my Schedule B codes, but I want to see what codes are close to them. How do I search for my specific Schedule B code?

Schedule B codes, at their most detailed, have 10 digits. Assuming AABBCCDDDD is a generic 10-digit Schedule B code, it will be referred to in one of two ways: AABBCCDDDD or AABB.CC.DDDD. All of the reference books have the decimals after the fourth and sixth digits (like the second example), so that's probably the most common way.

To search for a specific Schedule B code, just enter the code without the decimals. If your code is 1234.56.7890, search on 1234567890. The same holds true for searching for chapters or other Schedule B codes that are less than 10 digits. Looking for the code 0987.65? Search on 098765. This will yield a page of descriptions where 098765 appear in either the descriptions or the codes.

Example:

Search on 1234567890 -

Results -

 Code

Description

 1234567890

 <Example Description 1>

 <Example Code>

 <Example description containing 1234567890>

Search on 098765 -

Results -

 Code

 Description

 098765

<Example description for the 6-digit code>

<Any code starting with 098765>

<Example description 2>

<Any code containing 098765>

<Example description 3>

<Example code>

<Example description containing 098765>

What's the difference between the Schedule B codes (for exports) and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes (for imports)?

All of the imports and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS). The HTS assigns 6-digit codes for general categories. Countries which use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits, but all definitions must be within that 6-digit framework.

The U.S. defines products using 10-digit HTS codes. Exports codes (which the U.S. calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).

Web sites for U.S. import and export HTS codes:

  • U.S. Census
  • USITC

What's the difference between "AES" and "Data User" Schedule B files?

The Concordance files are designed for those who use our published data. These files contain:

  • All current export and import commodity codes for which we collect trade data
  • Descriptions
  • Units of quantity
  • Corresponding codes in other classification systems (e.g. End-Use, NAICS, SITC, etc.)

The Concordance files are updated annually in mid-February, when we publish data for the new year. The import file may change during the year as often as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is revised.

The AES Concordance files are designed for those who file export transactions. These files include:

  • All current Schedule B codes (AES Export Concordance)
  • All current Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes that can be reported for export purposes (AES Import Concordance)
  • Descriptions
  • Required units of quantity

The AES Import Concordance excludes HTS codes that are not valid for AES. The AES Concordance files are updated annually in late December.

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