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Does your company use the correct tariff codes?

If you enter an incorrect tariff code, you risk paying too much customs duties and taxes

It is in your interest as an importer or exporter to act on the correct tariffication of your goods. This way, you can ensure that customs regulations are correctly followed, that any customs checks are carried out without delay and that you do not face import duties and taxes higher than expected. 

What is tariffing?

When goods are processed by customs, they must be given a specific tariff code that describes the nature and use of the goods. Among other things, this code is used to determine the correct import duty, but it also determines several other assessments such as, for example, antidumping tax, additional duty or sanctions and restrictions.

Why is it so important to enter the correct tariff code?

Using an incorrect tariff code can have major financial consequences for your business. Especially if you import or export large quantities of the product in question. It is therefore important that you understand the applicable customs rules and specify the correct code. An incorrect code, in addition to incorrect and even higher customs duties, can lead to incorrect assessment of origin and incorrect handling during importation. It can also lead to delays if customs authorities decide to take the goods for further inspection.

Tariffing for importers

Many importers rely on the commodity codes provided by their suppliers. This is a good starting point, as suppliers usually have a thorough knowledge of the product and the elements that determine the code for these goods. Nevertheless, you should assess for yourself whether these codes are correct, as you as an importer are responsible - vis-à-vis the Dutch customs authorities - for ensuring that your goods are imported under the correct commodity codes and that the correct duties are paid. Also remember that only the first 6 digits of the product code (HS code) are international. So a supplier outside the EU can rarely quote the full correct 10-digit item code that should be on the import declaration, as the last 4 digits are determined at EU and national level.

Tariffing for exporters

As an exporter, it is also important to determine the correct commodity code, which however consists of only eight digits when exporting. This code must be included in the export document if the item is exported outside the EU. There are many reasons why correct classification is important - for example, restrictions, sanctions, and dual-use, with assessments often based on the classification of the item. Even if no duties are paid at export.

What can you do yourself?

It is important to ensure correct tariffication of import and export goods to avoid unnecessary costs and delays and ensure compliance with applicable customs regulations. To avoid errors in tariffication, you should provide DSV with the correct commodity codes. You do this by:

  • place the tariff code on the invoice; 
  • enclose a tariff code list of your products when making the booking; 
  • informing on the correct tariff code when making the booking. 

Any questions?

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Morgane Matthys
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