HS, HTS, and Schedule B Codes
These codes are used to classify products for import and export shipments. Though sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually very different.
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) Code
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule code is a 10-digit import classification system that is specific to the United States. HTS codes, also called HTS numbers, are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and are used for imports into the United Sates. It’s very important that all U.S. importers know and use the correct HTSUS codes, because commodity duties are assessed based on this classification. An HTS code takes the same form as an HS code for the first six digits, and then has four differing last digits.
You can lookup HTS codes here: HTS Search
HTS Example: Let’s look at an example for umbrellas: 6603.20.3000 HTS Code with the additional designation "For hand-held umbrellas chiefly used for protection against rain" (vs. 6603.20.9000, which is for all other hand-held umbrellas not chiefly used for protection from rain).
Schedule B Code
A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number used in the United States to classify physical goods for export to another country. The Schedule B is based on the international Harmonized System (HS) of 6-digit commodity classification codes. There is a Schedule B number for every physical product, from paperclips to airplanes.
Schedule B codes are administered and used by the U.S. Commerce Department, Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division to collect and publish the U.S. export statistics. Schedule B numbers are required to be reported in the Automated Export System (AES) when shipments are valued over $2,500 or the item requires a license.
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.
You can lookup Schedule B codes here: Schedule B Search
Harmonized System (HS) Code
HS codes are administered by the World Customs Organization. HS codes are recognized in 98% of world trade. The Harmonized System classification is a six-digit standard, called a subheading, for classifying globally traded products. HS codes, also called HS numbers, are used by customs authorities around the world to identify the duty and tax rates for specific types of products as well as identifying products that are regulated for import or export. HS codes can be used as a universal classification tool. Many governments add additional digits to the HS number to further distinguish products in certain categories. These additional digits are typically different in every country.
HS codes are not required, however omitting the HS code may cause the wrong duty and tax rate to be applied and can also delay customs clearance.
When you are completing export documentation, any documents that are used internationally, like the commercial invoice, should display the six-digit HS code instead of a longer code. If you use a 10-digit code, the numbers may not be accurate for the country of import.