Goods classification

Goods classification

How you classify your goods from a customs point of view is an important part of customs compliance. Failing to correctly classify your goods using the incorrect HS code, can have a major financial impact on your business and relations with the customs authorities.

We are there to support you in all your goods classification needs with:

European-wide customs and classification knowledge
Objective and independent advice
Latest insights on classification developments and impact on your business

Contact us today and one of our goods classification consultants will be in touch.

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Adam Grimshaw (Teal Background)
Adam Grimshaw
UK Compliance Manager

Customs classification of goods - More than a Ten Digit Code

Although a lot of companies assume that goods classification is ‘just about a 10-digit code’, there are a lot of complex goods classification rules and regulations applicable. Moreover, customs classifications are subject to periodic change.

When was the last time your classification of goods and services were checked on validity? How was this check performed? Is this customs classification process documented? These are just a few examples of questions related to the topic of goods classification.


Determination of the correct classification is linked to

  • Duties     
  • Import and Export Limitations     
  • Documentation Requirements 
  • Licenses     
  • Trade Policy Measures     
  • Security Measures 

Customs Support can help you establish a correct goods classification and answer any related questions.  

Are you curious what we can do for your organisation specifically 

Goods Classification | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to classify goods for customs?

Goods are classified according to the Harmonised System. The customs classification is done according to the classification rules set out by the World Customs Organization. Each Section and Chapter in the Harmonised System contains specific information regarding classification. The classification rules are too complex to go into detail here, but we will mention the most commonly used rule below.

The titles of sections, chapters and sub-chapters are provided for ease of reference only; for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions.

What does the process of classification look like?

Classification rule number 1 is the base rule for classifying goods and supersedes all other classification rules.

For the classification of goods under the terms of the headers, the wording used for these headings and any relative section or chapter notes is used for legal purposes. The same goes mutatis mutandis for the previous rules, with the distinction that only classifications of similar standing can be compared. For the use of this rule, the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions, apply.

What are the differences between HTS and GN?

Once you determine the correct code for a product, it is called a customs classification. Based on the rules of classification, goods are classified in the Harmonised Tariff System (HTS) / Combined Nomenclature (GN). This is a classification system that the World Customs Organization maintains. The HTS system is used almost everywhere in the world. The GN system is an expansion of the HTS system used in the European Union.

What key facts about goods classification should I be aware of?

The first six numbers of the code for an item are (or should be) the same worldwide. The numbers after that can differ per country. For example, if you source your goods from suppliers outside the European Union it is very important to check or ‘translate’ the provided codes to the codes used in the European Union. This to ensure that you work with valid and correct customs classification codes.

Why is it of relevance to classify goods correctly?

Determination of customs classification is a complex activity. Failing to comply with the applicable rules and regulations can form a serious threat for the continuity of your business. This is where a customs specialist can support to give advice or review the customs classification codes you are using.

How long does it take to classify an item?

The time effort to classify goods depends on the complexity of the products, material and products description and can take from 1 minute to half an hour per classification. Our classification specialists review required information to determine the right HS code.