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What is a harmonised code?

HS code is short for Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System. It's a list of numbers used by customs to classify a product nd it is used to define the duties and taxes to be paid. A HS code is also known as a harmonised, tariff or commodity code. Find out why they're important and where you can get one. 

Why are they important?

An HS code consists of at least six digits and is used by customs to classify the product being shipped. That way it can accurately calculate taxes and duties and apply any necessary restrictions.

If you don’t include the HS code on the commercial invoice and other shipping documents, you risk the receiver paying the wrong tax and could possibly delay the shipment.

Classifying your goods correctly means that you:

  • Pay the correct amount of duty and VAT
  • Know if duty is suspended on any of your goods
  • Know if any preferential duty rates can be applied
  • Know if excise or anti-dumping duties apply
  • Avoid paying interest on back-payments for incorrect classification
  • Avoid seizure of your goods or delays to their movement

How do I get one?

You can get one on HMRC's website. You can also identify the HS code corresponding to the commodity your are shipping using our FedEx International Shipping Assist tool.

Say you’re shipping men’s short sleeved T-shirts made of 100% cotton – the HS code will be as follows:

Category: Textiles and Articles (62)
Subcategory: T-shirts, singlets and other vests (11)
Material: Cotton (42)
The HS code: 621142

With this number, customs authorities all over the world are able to identify the contents of your package.


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