Classifying iron and steel for import and export

How to classify iron and steel if you are importing into or exporting from the EU.

Before you start

This guide will help you to classify iron and steel. If it does not cover your specific item in detail you can search for it in the Trade Tariff Tool.

This guide will:

  • provide some or all of the commodity codes for particular items and types
  • explain the differences between codes or headings affecting these items
  • detail any exceptions or rules

You will still need to look up the full commodity code to use on your declaration using the Trade Tariff Tool. You can find out more about:


This guidance will help you to correctly classify iron and steel products, ranging from base metals, waste and scrap and other primary forms through treated and semi-manufactured items to specific finished products. The majority of these commodities are covered in chapter 72 and chapter 73 of the Tariff.

This guide covers iron and steel products including:

  • iron and steel
  • primary materials
  • iron and non-alloy steel
  • stainless steel
  • alloy steel
  • flat products
  • long products, for example tubes, pipes, bars and rods
  • ingots and semi-finished products
  • specific finished products made from iron or steel

If you wish to classify finished products use chapter 73, which contains detailed descriptions and classification codes.

When classifying finished products you must carefully consider their function and application along with the composition of the metal as it’ll have an impact on finding the correct classification.

If the function or use isn’t intrinsic to the item - as it would be in, for example, a nut and bolt or radiator - you may have to classify it using a classification code defined by its composition, form and manufacturing technique in chapter 72.

The guidance that follows shows the classification choices you’ll need to make for common raw and semi-manufactured commodities using a graphical approach for ease of reference.

It’s essential to have as great an understanding of the details of the composition and form of your goods as possible in order to classify them correctly. For example, if you aren’t sure if your goods are flat rolled or cold rolled, you’ll not be able to classify them accurately. Check with your suppliers if you’re unsure.

The early pages in this section cover essential definitions and outlines of processes that will affect classification, while the later pages show you how to classify specific types of product in an easy-to-use flowchart format.

How iron and steel are classified

Classifying iron and steel products may appear daunting - chapter 72 and chapter 73 of the Tariff are dedicated to these products and are lengthy and detailed. However, adopting a logical approach to defining the products can help effective classification.

Iron and steel products cover an enormous variety of commodities, from base materials, through processed and semi-finished products to finished products.

At the less processed end of the spectrum, this guide covers primary materials of iron and steel, stainless and alloy steel, waste and scrap iron or steel, tubes, pipes, rods and bars and semi-finished products.

It also covers specific and detailed finished products made from iron and steel, such as barbed wire, nails and screws, containers and boxes, sewing and knitting needles, springs, radiators and kitchen and tableware

Key questions

There are three key questions you need to bear in mind when you start classifying iron and steel products:

  • What are the goods made of?
  • What do they do?
  • How do they function?

In most cases answering these questions fully will lead you to the correct classification code.

For example, a line pipe used for oil or gas pipelines made from stainless steel is reasonably easily classified using the answers to these questions.

You should take care to consider all these questions as the goods’ role and function can significantly impact the classification.

For example if you’re trying to classify a keyring that has a wire spring ring with a fob of metal or other material that is not functional, the classification will be that of the wire ring as an article of iron or steel wire. If the fob is functional it will be classified under its own heading.

Know your goods

As the classifications are detailed, it’s a good idea to get as much information about the goods as possible, particularly their composition and treatment. Having an understanding of production processes can also be very helpful in classification, for example knowing that spiegeleisen is generally obtained from ores and therefore classified under the same heading as pig iron - rather than a ferro-alloy as it’s often referred to in the trade.

If you’re in doubt, it’s very useful to check the details with your supplier as it’ll save time and effort at the classification stage.

Quick reference table of heading codes

Item Heading code
Pig iron and Spiegeleisen 7201
Ferro-alloys 7202
Ferrous products in lumps, pellets or similar forms 7203
Ferrous waste and scrap 7204
Granules and powders 7205
Ingots and other primary forms 7206
Iron or non-alloy steel semi-finished products 7207
Flat rolled products 7208, 7209, 7210, 7211 7212
Iron or non-alloy steel bars and rods 7213, 7214, 7215
Iron or non-alloy steel wire 7217
Stainless steel - primary or semi-finished 7218
Stainless steel bars and rods 7221
Stainless steel wire 7223
Railway or tramway track construction of iron or steel 7302
Tubes, pipes and hollow profiles 7303, 7304, 7305, 7306
Reservoirs, tanks and vats 7309, 7310
Barbed wire 7313
Nails, tacks, drawing pins, corrugated nails, staples 7317
Screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hook, rivets, cotters, cotterpins, washers and similar articles of iron and steel 7318
Radiators for central heating, not electrically heated, and parts made from iron and steel 7322
Table, kitchen and other household articles of iron and steel 7323

Defining iron and steel

Using the correct terminology will assist in correct classification. These definitions are agreed across the EU through the European Coal and Steel Community and used in the Tariff.

Throughout the Tariff, the expression base metals means:

  • iron and steel
  • copper
  • nickel
  • aluminium
  • lead
  • zinc
  • tin
  • tungsten (wolfram)
  • molybdenum
  • tantalum
  • magnesium
  • cobalt
  • bismuth
  • cadmium
  • titanium
  • zirconium
  • antimony
  • manganese
  • beryllium
  • chromium
  • germanium
  • vanadium
  • gallium
  • hafnium
  • indium
  • niobium (columbium)
  • rhenium and thallium

It doesn’t include gold, silver and platinum and platinum group metals, that is, iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium and ruthenium, which are proper to chapter 71.

Cermets are products containing a microscopic heterogeneous combination of a metallic component and a ceramic component. It includes metal carbides sintered with a metal.

Pig iron is the main primary product of the iron and steel industry. It’s classified under heading code 7201. To be classified under this heading code, it can be:

  • alloy or non-alloy pig iron
  • in the form of pigs, blocks, lumps (whether or not broken) or in the molten state (however, remember that heading code 7201 does not extend to shaped or worked articles such as rough or finished castings or tubes)
  • brittle and unworkable, but this can be remedied by annealing (annealing is generally applied to cast items that are not classified under heading code 7201, although annealed primary forms (such as pigs or blocks) are classified under heading code 7201)

Spiegeleisen is classified under heading code 7201 as it is generally obtained directly from ores, despite often being referred to in normal trading as a ferro-alloy. It’s:

  • used principally in steel manufacture (in the Bessemer process) to de-oxidise and recarburise the iron, and for alloying
  • has a high manganese content - that is approximately 15%, but more than 6% and less than 30%

Ferro-alloys are used to add definite proportions of alloying elements to steel or pig iron in order to obtain special qualities. They’re classified under heading code 7202 if they’re in the form of pigs, blocks, lumps or similar primary forms, granules, powder form or in forms obtained by continuous casting, such as billets.

Ferro-alloys generally:

  • contain 4% or more of the element iron and other elements
  • contain less iron than in pig iron

Heading code 7202 also covers ferro-alloys previously reduced to granules or powders and made into briquettes, cylinders, thin slabs or other forms using cement or other binders, or in some cases exothermic additives.

It’s important to remember that heading code 7202 excludes:

  • ferro-uranium (heading code 2844)
  • ferro-cerium and other pyrophoric (igniting spontaneously on contact with air) ferrous alloys in all forms (heading code 3606)
  • products that in some countries are sometimes known as ferro-nickels or ferro-nickel chromes, and that are malleable and not normally used as ‘addition materials’ in iron and steel metallurgy (heading codes 7218 to 7229 or chapter 75)

Ferrous products obtained by direct reduction of iron ore and other spongy ferrous products are classified under heading code 7203. Iron and steel products of this heading are produced by reducing the ore without fusion - known as direct reduction. They’re obtained from ore in lumps, granules, or from concentrated ore in briquette or pellet form and contain more than 80% by weight of metallic iron. They also have a spongy structure (sponge iron) and can be used in the production of steel.

In Tariff classification terms, when in briquettes or pellet form they shouldn’t be confused with those consisting of concentrated ores under heading code 2601 (the former differ from the latter by the shiny appearance of their cut surface).

Heading code 7203 also covers very pure iron having an impurity content not exceeding 0.06% but it excludes steel wool, which is classified under heading code 7323.

Ferrous waste and scrap are classified under heading code 7204. They’re generally used for the recovery of metal by remelting or for the manufacture of chemicals. Waste and scrap are a result of the manufacture or mechanical workings of metals, and metal goods definitely not usable due to breakage, cutting up, wear or other reasons. They take the form of:

  • crop ends, filings and turnings (from the manufacture or mechanical working of iron or steel)
  • shearing or flame-cutting of heavy and long pieces
  • compression into bales (particularly in the case of light scrap, using for example, a hydraulic press)
  • fragmentation/shredding of vehicle bodies
  • crushing and agglomeration into briquettes of iron and steel filings and turnings
  • breaking up of old iron articles
  • remelting scrap ingots such as products roughly cast in the form of ingots without feeder-heads or hot tops, or pigs having obvious surface faults and not complying with the chemical composition of pig iron, spiegeleisen, or ferro-alloys

Granules (of pig iron, spiegeleisen, iron or steel) are classified under heading code 7205. Granules are products of which less than 90% by weight passes through a sieve with a mesh aperture of 1 millimetre and of which 90% or more by weight passes through a sieve with a mesh aperture of 5 millimetres.

Granules remain under heading code 7205 whether or not they’ve been graded by size.

Granules include shot (more or less round in shape) and angular grits. Shots and grit are used for:

  • cleaning up and de-scaling
  • surface hardening (shot peeling) metal
  • polishing or engraving metal or glass
  • working stone or like material
  • sometimes adding to concrete as a hardener (or to increase its impermeability to X-rays or gamma rays)

Heading code 7205 also covers wire pellets, produced by cutting iron or steel wire.

Powders (of pig iron, spiegeleisen, iron or steel) are also classified under heading code 7205. Powders are products of which 90% or more by weight passes through a sieve with a mesh aperture of 1 millimetre. They’re suitable for compacting or agglomeration.

These powders (including sponge iron powder) can be sintered into various items such as electromagnetic coils in telephony or magnetos, and used in the manufacture of welding electrodes and welding powders, reducing agents and pharmaceutical products.

Bear in mind that heading code 7205 excludes:

  • radioactive iron powder (isotopes) (heading code 2844)
  • iron powders presented as medicaments (heading codes 3003 or 3004)
  • granules and powders of ferro-alloys (heading code 7202)
  • waste filings and turnings of iron or steel (heading code 7204)
  • small defective ball bearings, these aren’t considered to be shot as they have a more regular and finished appearance and are made of better quality steel (heading code 7326)

Ingots are classified under heading code 7206. These are blocks of metal made by casting the liquid metallic contents of a furnace or crucible into open metallic moulds. Ingots are the raw material for the metal working process.

Other primary forms are classified under heading code 7206. These include:

  • steel in the molten state
  • blocks and lumps (chiefly obtained from agglomerates or build-ups produced by a direct reduction of iron ore or by electrolytic deposition)
  • puddled bars and pilings (after rolling, provide a product with a characteristic fibrous structure by virtue of its slag content)

However, heading code 7206 excludes:

  • remelting scrap ingots (heading code 7204)
  • products obtained by continuous casting (heading code 7207)

Semi-finished products are classified under heading code 7207. These are defined as:

  • continuously cast products of solid section, whether or not subjected to primary hot rolling
  • other products of solid section, that have not been further worked other than being subjected to primary hot rolling or roughly shaped by forging, including blanks for angles, shapes or sections

These products may not be in coils.

Semi-finished products include:

  • blooms - are larger than billets and are used for re-rolling to bars, rods, angles, shapes and sections or for the manufacture of forgings
  • billets - are used for re-rolling to bars, rods, angles, shapes and sections or for the manufacture of forgings
  • rounds - have a circular or polygon cross-section of more than four sides (they are used as intermediate products for the manufacture of seamless-steel tubes and differ from bars and rods in that they are usually supplied in lengths of 1 to 2 metres and their ends are often cut by a blow lamp, whereas bars/rods are normally more accurately cut)
  • slabs/sheet bars - are rectangular (not square) in section and their widths are greater than their thickness

Flat-rolled products are:

  • rolled products of solid rectangular (not square) cross section, which do not conform to the definition of semi-finished products, and are in the form of:
    • coils of successively superimposed layers
    • straight lengths that if of a thickness less than 4.75 millimetres are of a width at least 10 times the thickness; or if thickness is 4.75 millimetres or more are of a width which exceeds 150 millimetres and is at least twice the thickness
  • those with patterns in relief derived directly from rolling (such as grooves, ribs, chequers, tears, buttons, lozenges) and those that have been perforated, corrugated or polished provided they do not assume the character of articles or products of other headings

Flat-rolled products other than rectangular or square, of any size are to be classified as products of a width of 600 millimetres or more, provided they do not assume the character of articles or products of other headings.

Flat-rolled products classified under heading code 7208 may be subject to surface treatment:

  • 7208 includes corrugated flat-rolled products
  • 7208 excludes ribbed products with an angular profile (heading code 7216)
  • 7208 excludes flat-rolled products which have been coated, plated or clad with metal, or coated with non-metallic substances (for example paints, enamels or plastics) (heading code 7210)

Hot rolled - this is a method of shaping steel by rolling. The temperature range depends on various factors such as the composition of the steel. For general guidance, the final temperature of the work-piece in hot rolling is about 900°C.

Cold rolled - this is a process which is carried out on products that have not been heated immediately prior to the cold-rolling operation in which they are reduced to final thickness. The objectives of cold rolling are to improve the surface finish and to obtain smaller and more uniform thickness than is possible in hot rolling. Cold-worked products tend to be very hard and possess great tensile strength.

Angles and shapes are classified under heading code 7216. These must have the following characteristics:

  • the sections most commonly falling in this heading are H, I, T, Z, U (including channels) capital omega, obtuse, acute and right L angles
  • corners can be square or rounded, the limbs equal or unequal and the edges may or may not be bulbed

Alloy steel is defined as steel with additional metals. This is made by smelting mixed ores that may either be added with the steel in the furnace or in the molten bath near the end of the finishing period, in the ladle, or in the moulds.

For classification purposes, the main ferro-alloys include:

  • ferro-manganese
  • ferro-silicon
  • ferro-silico-manganese
  • ferro-chromium
  • ferro-silico-chromium
  • ferro-nickel
  • ferro-molybdenum
  • ferro-tungsten (ferro-wolfram)
  • ferro-silico-tungsten
  • ferro-titanium
  • ferro-silico-titanium
  • ferro-vanadium
  • ferro-niobium
  • ferro-silico-magnesium
  • ferro-silico-calcium

Stainless steel is defined as alloy steel containing, by weight, 1.2% or less of carbon and 10.5% or more of chromium, with or without other elements.

Cast iron is iron mixed with other metals. The iron must predominate by weight over these additional metals. These additional metals must not be in the quantities stated for the chemical composition of steel - see the page in this guide on iron and steel metal composition.

Malleable cast iron is cast iron that under pressure or hammering can easily spread and flatten.

Spheroidal graphite cast iron is not considered as either a non-malleable cast iron (of heading 732510) or a malleable cast iron (heading 732599 first part), but is considered to be ‘a third category’ (within heading 732599 second part).

Forging is a process where the metal is formed into a shape by heat and pressure.

Hot-drop forging and drop stamping are methods in the production of metal shapes or sections (usually on a conveyor line) by the hot shaping of cut blanks in dies by means of special tools. These are carried out by pressure or impact, generally in successive phases, following preliminary operations of rolling, hammering, hand forging or bending.

Wire drawing is a cold process in which bars or rods in irregularly wound coils are drawn through one or more dies at high speed to obtain coiled wire of a smaller diameter.

Bright drawing is a cold process in which bars or rods, whether or not in irregularly wound coils, are drawn at slow speed through one or more dies to obtain products of smaller or different shaped sections.

Rolled or obtained by continuous casting is a method of casting molten steel directly into useful or semi-finished shapes.

Wrought means shaped by hammering or beating.

Hot extrusion is a process consisting of enclosing a piece of metal heated to forging temperature in a chamber (called a container). High pressure is applied to the metal which is then forced through a die.

Cold extrusion is a process similar to hot extrusion above except that the metal is at room temperature.

Dies are metallic or other permanent devices that provide a given shape to a piece of metal. The word in metallurgy covers a range of meanings and includes dies that are used to shape solid metal in presses and those for making die casting from.

Hot drawing is a process in which metal is heated and passed through a die to produce the finished shape.

Sintering is where compacted metal powder (obtained by moulding, usually coupled with pressing) is spread out and passed under a burner. The powder ignites. Air is then drawn through the powder causing any sulphur or carbon present to oxidise. This causes a partial fusion of the particles in the powder, leaving them to adhere together in the form of a porous cellular clinker known as a sinter.

Closed-die forging is where hot metal is shaped within the walls of two dies that come together to enclose the work piece on all sides. The process starts with a rod or bar cut to the length required to fill the die.

Open-die forging is the process of hammering hot metal between flat or contoured dies. There are three basic types of dies for this process - flat dies, V dies, and swage dies.

Annealing is the process of heating a metal or alloy to a predetermined temperature (below its melting point) maintaining that temperature for a time, then cooling it slowly. Annealing generally provides softness.

About iron and steel treatments

It’s very useful to understand the different treatments used in the production of iron and steel products, whether they’re surface treatments, subsequent manufacturing or finishing.

Surface treatments

Cladding methods include:

  • pouring molten cladding metal onto the basic metal, followed by rolling
  • simple hot rolling of the cladding metal to the basic metal
  • any other method of deposition of the cladding metal followed by any mechanical or thermal process to ensure welding (for example electro-cladding)

Bear in mind that ferrous products clad with non-ferrous metals remain classified under chapter 72 provided that iron or steel is the predominating metal by weight.

Plating methods include:

  • coating with metal through immersion, hot-dip galvanising, tinning, hot coating with lead and aluminium coating
  • electroplating, for example with zinc, cadmium, tin, lead, chromium, chromium/chromate, copper, nickel, gold or silver
  • impregnation or diffusion by heating the product to be coated with the required coating metal in powder form, for example, sherardising (cementation with zinc), calorising (cementation with aluminium) and chromising (with diffusion of chromium)
  • spraying - atomising the molten coating metal and directing the spray onto the product to be coated
  • metallisation by evaporating the coating metal in a vacuum
  • metallisation by bombarding the coating metal with ions in a glow discharge (ion plating)
  • coating by cathode vaporisation (sputtering)

Coating methods include:

  • enamelling
  • varnishing
  • lacquering
  • painting
  • surface printing
  • coating with ceramics or plastics, including special processes such as glow discharge, electrophoresis, electrostatic projection and immersion in an electrostatic fluidised bath followed by radiation firing

Subsequent finishing

Finished products may be subjected to further finishing treatments such as mechanical workings (including turning, milling, grinding, perforation or punching) or surface treatments such as polishing, burnishing, artificial oxidation or chemical surface treatment. As a general rule such processes do not affect the heading under which the goods are classified.

Classifying steel

There are several thousand steel and alloy-steel grades - all of which have different chemical compositions. In addition, there are all the different possible heat treatments, cold forming conditions, shapes and surface finishes that can make classification of these products difficult.

However, steels can be classified reasonably easily into a few major groups according to their chemical composition, applications, shapes and surface conditions.

Chemical composition - steels can be grouped into one of the three classes:

  • carbon steels
  • low-alloy steels
  • high-alloy steels

All steels contain a small amount of incidental elements (such as manganese, silicon, aluminium, phosphorus, sulphur and copper) left over from the steel-making process. As these elements together normally constitute less than 1% of the steel, they are not considered alloys.

Carbon steels are the most produced and widely used, accounting for about 90% of global steel production. These are grouped into:

  • high-carbon steels (with carbon content above 0.5%)
  • medium-carbon steels (with 0.2 to 0.49% carbon)
  • low-carbon steels (with 0.05 to 0.19% carbon)
  • extra-low-carbon steels (with 0.015 to 0.05% carbon)
  • ultra-low-carbon steels (with less than 0.015% carbon)

Carbon steels are also defined as having:

  • less than 1.65% manganese
  • less than 0.6% silicon
  • 0.6% copper

Moreover, the total of these three elements cannot exceed 2%.

Low-alloy steels have up to 8% alloying elements. If the concentration is any higher, the goods are considered to constitute high-alloy steels. Alloying elements include:

  • carbon
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • titanium
  • nitrogen
  • cobalt
  • sulphur
  • boron
  • silicon
  • aluminium
  • vanadium
  • tellurium
  • niobium
  • copper
  • lead
  • tungsten
  • nickel
  • molybdenum
  • selenium
  • zirconium

Several of these elements are added simultaneously to achieve specific properties.

Expressions and their meanings

The following expressions have the meanings hereby assigned to them:

Electrical: for the purposes of subheadings:

  • 7209 16 10
  • 7209 17 10
  • 7209 18 10
  • 7209 26 10
  • 7209 27 10
  • 7209 28 10
  • 7211 23 20

Flat-rolled products which under a current of 50 Hz and a magnetic flux of 1 T have a watt-loss per kg, calculated by the Epstein method, of:

  • 2.1 w or less, when their thickness does not exceed 0.20mm
  • 3.6 w or less, when their thickness is not less than 0.20mm but less than 0.60mm
  • 6 w or less, when their thickness is not less than 0.60mm but not greater than 1.50mm

Tinplate: for the purposes of subheadings:

  • 7210 12 20
  • 7210 70 10
  • 7212 10 10
  • 7212 40 20

Flat-rolled products (of a thickness of less than 0.5mm) coated with a layer of metal containing, by weight, 97% or more of tin.

Tool steel: for the purposes of subheadings:

  • 7224 10 10
  • 7224 90 02
  • 7225 30 10
  • 7225 40 12
  • 7226 91 20
  • 7228 30 20
  • 7228 40 10
  • 7228 50 20
  • 7228 60 20

Less than 0.6% of carbon and 0.7% or more of silicon and 0.05% or more of vanadium, or, 4% or more of tungsten.


0.8% or more of carbon and 0.05% or more of vanadium.


More than 1.2% of carbon and not less than 11% but not more than 15% of chromium.


0.16% or more but not more than 0.5% of carbon and 3.8% or more but not more than 4.3% of nickel and 1.1% or more but not more than 1.5% of chromium and 0.15% or more but not more than 0.5% of molybdenum.


0.3% or more but not more than 0.5% of carbon and 1.4% or more but not more than 2.1% of chromium and 0.15% or more but not more than 0.5% of molybdenum and less than 1.2% of nickel.


0.3% or more of carbon and less than 5.2% of chromium and 0.65% or more of molybdenum or 0.4% or more of tungsten.


0.5% or more but not more than 0.6% of carbon and 1.25% or more but not more than 1.8% of nickel and 0.5% or more but not more than 1.2% of chromium and 0.15% or more but not more than 0.5% of molybdenum.

Statistical note

Alloy tool steels are steels having by weight, one of the following alternative compositions:

  1. Alloy steels containing less than 0.6% of carbon and 0.7% or more of silicon and 0.1% or more of vanadium or 4% or more of tungsten

  2. Alloy steels containing 0.8% or more of carbon and 0.1% or more of vanadium or more than 1.2% of carbon and 11/15% of chromium

Alloy steels satisfying any of the following analysis ranges between:

a. 0.24 and of 0.5% carbon, 3.8 and 4.3% of nickel, 1.1 and 1.5% chromium and 0.2 and 0.5% of molybdenum

b. 0.3 and 0.5% of carbon, 1.45 and 2% of chromium and 0.2 and 0.5% of molybdenum

c. 0.3 and 0.5% of carbon, 2.5 and 3.5% of chromium, 0.7 and 1.2% of molybdenum, 0.1 and 0.3% of vanadium

d. 0.5 and 0.6% of carbon, 1.25 and 1.8% of nickel, 0.5 of 1.2% of chromium and 0.2 and 0.55% of molybdenum

Shape and surface

In principle, steel is either formed into flat products or long products, both of which have either a hot-rolled, cold-formed or coated surface.

Flat products include plates, hot-rolled strip and sheets, and cold-rolled strip and sheets. They can have a variety of surface conditions and are rolled from slabs.

  1. Plates are hot rolled either from slabs or directly from ingots. Plates are usually made in small quantities and to customers’ specifications, with different dimensions and tolerances for flatness, profile, straightness and other properties. The edges can be ordered in either as-rolled condition, or sheared, machined, or gas-cut. Plates are also clad with corrosion-resistant sheets.
  2. Hot-rolled strip is often shipped directly from the mill in large coils. Frequently, the larger coils are slit into narrower coils or edge trimmed or cut to length into sheets at the finishing section of a steel plant. Coils and sheets are shipped either with the hot-rolled surface or with the scale removed and the surface oiled.
  3. Cold-rolled strip is produced from hot-rolled strip. Steel plants provide this product in coils or sheets. Cold-rolled products are available in a great variety of surface conditions, often with a specific roughness, electrolytically cleaned, chemically treated, oiled, or coated with metals such as zinc, tin, chromium, aluminium or with organic substances.

There are specific dimensions that the goods need to meet if they are classed as flat products.

Product Thickness Width Length Weight
Slabs 50 - 250 millimetres 0.6 - 2.6 metres 12 metres -
Plate 5 - 200 millimetres 1.5 - 3.5 metres 35 metres (max) -
Hot-rolled strip 1.5 - 12 millimetres 0.7 - 2 metres - 10 - 35 tons
Cold-rolled strip 0.1 - 2 millimetres up to 2 metres - -

Long products are made of either blooms or billets. Long products include bars, rods and wires, structural shapes and rails, and tubes.

  1. Bars can have square, rectangular, flat, round, hexagonal or octagonal cross sections. They’re sometimes cold drawn or ground to very precise dimensions for use in machine parts. A special group of rounds are the reinforcing bars, which provide tensile strength to concrete sections subjected to a bending load. These normally have hot-rolled protrusions on their surface to improve bonding with the concrete. Some bar mills also produce small channels, angles, tees, zees, and fence-post sections. These products are called merchant bars.
  2. Hot-rolled wire rods: these are shipped in coils. A great portion of these rods are cold-drawn into wire, which is often covered afterward by a metallic coating for corrosion protection.
  3. Structural shapes and rails: common shapes are wide flange I-beams, standard I-beams, channels, angles, tees, zees, H-pilings, and sheet pilings. Rails include railway rails as well as a great number of special rails (for example for cranes and heavy transfer cars or for use in mines and construction).
  4. Tubular steels are broadly grouped into welded and seamless products.

Once again, there are specific dimensions the goods must meet if they’re to be classified as long products.

Product Diameter Wall thickness Weight
Rounds (Bar) Up to 250 millimetres - -
Reinforcing bars 10 - 50 millimetres - -
Hot-rolled wire rods 5.5 - 12.5 millimetres - Up to 2 tons
Welded tubes Up to 500 millimetres Up to 10 millimetres -
Pipes 0.8 - 2 metres Up to 180 millimetres -
Spiral-welded tubes Up to 1.5 metres - -
Seamless tubes 120 to 400 millimetres Up to 15 millimetres (some up to 650 millimetres) -

Alloy and non-alloy steel

If the steel contains one or more of the following elements in the proportion by weight shown, it’s classified as an alloy steel:

  • 0.3% or more of aluminium
  • 0.0008% or more of boron
  • 0.3% or more of chromium
  • 0.3% or more of cobalt
  • 0.4% or more of copper
  • 0.4% or more of lead
  • 1.65% or more of manganese
  • 0.08% or more of molybdenum
  • 0.3% or more of nickel
  • 0.06% or more of niobium
  • 0.6% or more of silicon
  • 0.05% or more of titanium
  • 0.3% or more of tungsten (wolfram)
  • 0.1% or more of vanadium
  • 0.05% or more of zirconium
  • 0.1% or more of other elements (except sulphur, phosphorus, carbon and nitrogen) taken separately

Any steel not containing one or more of the above elements in the weight proportions shown, is treated as a non-alloy steel.

Understanding steel production

Having a clear understanding of the production processes for steelmaking will help you classify it more easily.

Image shows a flow chart illustrating the steel production process.

Key classification codes for iron and steel

The tables below provide you with the key four-digit heading codes to start with when classifying iron and steel not in finished product form.


Term Abbreviation
Flat-rolled products FRP
Clad, plated or coated C, P or C
Hot rolled HR
Hot drawn HD
Hot extruded HE
Cold formed (or cold finished) CF

 Primary materials

Heading code Product
7201 Pig iron and spiegeleisen, Non-alloy pig iron, Alloy pig iron, Spiegeleisen
7202 Ferro-alloys including: ferro-manganese, ferro-silicon, ferro-silico-manganese, ferro-chromium, ferro-silico-chromium, ferro-nickel, ferro-molybdenum, ferro-tungsten, ferro-silico-tungsten, ferro-titanium, ferro-silico-titanium, ferro-vanadium, ferro-niobium, ferro-phosphorus, ferro-silico-magnesium
7203 Ferrous products in lumps, pellets or similar forms - 99% minimum pure iron
7204 Ferrous waste and scrap (including cast iron, stainless steel, alloy steel), for example, turnings, shavings, chips
7205 Granules and powders

 Iron and non-alloy steel

Heading code Product
7206 Ingots and other primary forms (excluding iron of 7302)
7207 Semi-finished products, rolled continuous casting, forged
7208 FRP Width 600 millimetres+ HR, NOT C, P or C
7210 FRP Width 600 millimetres+ C, P or C
7211 FRP Width -600 millimetres HR and CR, NOT C, P or C
7212 FRP Width -600 millimetres C, P or C
7213 Bars and rods - HR in irregularly wound coils
7214 Other bars and rods, not in coils, NFW than forged, HR, HD or HE (including those twisted after rolling)
7215 Other bars and rods
7216 Angles, shapes and sections
7217 Wire, plated and non-plated

 Stainless steel

Heading code Product
7218 Ingots and other primary forms, semi-finished products
7219 FRP Width 600 millimetres+, HR in or not in coils, CR in or not in coils, other, NFW than surface treated, clad
7220 FRP Width -600 millimetres, HR, CR, Surface treated, clad
7221 Bars and rods, HR in irregular coils
7222 Other bars and rods, HR, CF and angles, shapes and sections, HR, HD, HE, CF
7223 Wire

 Other alloy steel

Heading code Product
7224 Ingots and other primary forms, semi-finished products
7225 FRP Width 600 millimetres+, HR in or not in coils, CR in or not in coils, other, NFW than surface treated, clad
7226 FRP Width -600 millimetres, HR, CR, Surface treated, clad
7227 Bars and rods, HR in irregular coils
7228 Other bars and rods, HR, CF and angles, shapes and sections, HR, HD, HE, CF and hollow drill bars and rods of alloy or non-alloy steel

Classifying iron and steel: flow charts

How to classify primary materials - products in granular or powder form (7201 - 7202)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify primary materials (products in granular or powder form: 7201 - 7202).

How to classify primary materials - products in granular or powder form (7203 - 7205)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify primary materials (products in granular or powder form: 7203 - 7205).

How to classify iron or non-alloy steel (7206 - 7217)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify iron or non-alloy steel (7206 - 7217).

How to classify stainless steel (7218 - 7223)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify stainless steel (7218 - 7223).

How to classify other alloy steel (7224 - 7226)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify other alloy steel (7224 - 7226).

How to classify bars and rods of wire and other alloy steel (7227 - 7229)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify bars and rods of wire and other alloy steel (7227 - 7229).

How to classify tubes and pipes of iron and steel (7303 - 7304)

Image shows a flow chart illustrating how to classify tubes and pipes of iron and steel (7303 - 7304).

How to classify tubes and pipes of iron and steel (7305 - 7306)

Image shows a flow chart on illustrating how to classify tubes and pipes of iron and steel (7305 - 7306).

Composition of iron and steel: tables

Metal composition

Image shows a metal composition table.

  1. Pig iron contains more than 2% by weight of carbon, and may have one or more of the elements listed above.
  2. Spiegeleisen has manganese content shown above, but otherwise conforms to same specification as pig iron.
  3. Ferro-alloys contain by weight 4% or more of the element iron and one or more of the elements listed.
  4. Chromium steel may contain more carbon.
  5. Other alloy steel contains one or more of the elements listed above.

Steel composition

Image shows a steel composition table.

High speed steel is alloy steel containing at least two of these three elements with a combined weight of 7% or more.


There are specific notices in the Tariff regarding the composition of ferro-alloys.

To be classified as such, they must be alloys in pigs, blocks, lumps or similar primary forms obtained by continuous casting or in granular or powder forms. These can be agglomerated, used as an additive in the manufacture of other alloys or as deoxidants, desulphurising agents or other similar usage. They’re generally not malleable and must contain by weight at least 4% of the element iron and one or more of:

  • manganese
  • phosphorus
  • silicon
  • chromium
  • carbon
  • copper
  • nickel
  • aluminium
  • boron
  • cobalt
  • molybdenum
  • lead
  • niobium
  • titanium
  • tungsten (wolfram)
  • vanadium
  • zirconium
  • other elements

It’s also important to note that a ferro-alloy can only be considered as a binary and classified under a specific relevant subheading (if it exists) if only one of the elements listed above exceeds the minimum percentage listed. Otherwise it must be classified as a ternary or quaternary alloy as appropriate.

For example, for a ferro-alloy to be correctly classified as ferro-silico-manganese, it must have more than 30% manganese and more than 8% silicon. If it has 7% silicon it is viewed as a binary ferro-alloy and must be classified as ferro-manganese in this example.

Further help

Use the online UK Trade Tariff tool to find the rest of your commodity code and other measures applying to imports and exports.

If you cannot find the information you need on this page, you can get more help to find the right commodity code for your goods.

Published 3 August 2012
Last updated 13 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Guidance on expressions and their meanings and defining spheroidal graphite cast iron has been added.

  2. Minor text amendments made throughout the document.

  3. Change of service contact details, as of the 1 September 2015 the tariff classification helpline is changing from telephone contact to email.

  4. Fixing references to specialist guides

  5. First published.