Having the correct classification for the goods you are importing is a legal responsibility. But, as an importer, what if you are not sure how to correctly classify the merchandise you are importing? What do you do if you are not sure which harmonized tariff schedule number to use?

As an importer, you can ask for assistance from your licensed customs broker.

Remember, even when using a broker, importers are ultimately responsible for the correct entry presented to U.S. Customs. Customs brokers may find the correct duty rate information for your import. If your broker is unsure how to determine the correct HtS, then, as an importer, you can request a written ruling from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP.)

The most secure way to find the correct classification number is to ask an expert: a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Classification Specialist. A CBP Specialist makes the final determination of what the correct rate of duty is.

The United States enforces customs duties on the importing of all goods.

All import items are required to be classified in accordance with the harmonized schedule of the United States, and each tariff number has a corresponding rate of duty. Rates of duty for imported merchandise may also vary depending of the country of origin.

The duty is imposed at the time of import, and is paid by the importer of record. Customs duties vary by country of origin and product. Failure to correctly comply with customs rules can result in seizure of goods, and criminal penalties. Based on classification of the goods you are importing, U.S. Customs determines which harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) will apply to your goods, and the HTS number determines the applicable duty rate.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issues binding advance rulings and other legal decisions for the specific item you will be importing into the United States.

For specific duty information on an item you are importing, you can request a Binding Ruling. Importers can request a written ruling from CBP for the proper HTSUS classification and rate of duty for their merchandise. As an importer, you can apply to request for classification rulings directly from the National Commodity Specialist Division (NCSD.) Under binding rulings program, NCSD issues binding advance rulings and other legal decisions about the importation of merchandise into the United States.

The binding ruling program enables importers to get binding pre-entry classification decisions prior to importing a product by submitting either an electronic request or a letter describing the product in detail and provides a sample to the National Commodity Specialist for a ruling.