All the imports in to the United states must be classified with the harmonized tariff of the country (HTS). The tariff schedule has 99 chapters under 22 sections each dealing with a specific item. In order to determine correct HTS number and duty rates, your supplier must complete a detailed description of the item. It might be difficult to classify your merchandise depending on the product you are importing.

Know your product before you start importing. If you are having difficulty classifying your product you can ask verbal advice from a commodity specialist or request a legal binding ruling. A legal binding ruling can be obtained at the National Commodity Specialist Division (NCSD) of the office of Regulations and Ruling. The binding ruling enables importers and other interested parties to get pre-entry classification decision. The ruling is usually issued within 30 days. The importer should forward the ruling to their customs broker to attach each entry. A ruling may be requested by any person who is an importer or exporter of merchandise.

Another way to determine correct classification is to check US customs ruling database. Customs Ruling Online Search System (CROSS) is a searchable data base of CBP ruling that can be retrieved based on a simple keyword. CROSS is often updated with most recent rulings and searching by a key word you might find a ruling similar to your product.

One of the more difficult commodities for classification is wearing apparel. Wearing apparel is divided into two major areas; knit or woven, and each of those list many divisions by gender (women, men, children, baby); fabric content (cotton, wool, etc); type (shirt, sleepwear, jacket, pants etc.) Knowing your product classification and related HTS number before importing enables you to determine the correct duty amount. It is important for accurate calculation of the landed cost.

Always advise the shipper how to describe the product on the invoice. A minor error in wording or an incomplete description can lead to the wrong classification of the merchandise which might cause the importer to pay wrong duty amount or further US customs inspections. It is always a good idea to put the HTS number on the commercial invoice as well.