Guidance

Using the Trade Tariff tool to find a commodity code

Find out how to use the Trade Tariff tool to find the right commodity code to classify your goods.

It is important you classify all imports and exports using the correct commodity code. This is to make sure you pay the right VAT, duty, excise or levies due under UK and European law.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, you may need to pay different rates of customs duty. Check the different rates when you know the commodity codes for your goods.

You also need the right commodity code to complete the Single Administrative Document. This is used to declare goods that are moved from one part of the EU to another and must accompany your goods throughout the EU.

Finding commodity codes for imports or exports provides help and guidance on classifying your goods, including how to get advice from HMRC to find the correct commodity code.

How to search the Trade Tariff tool

Each commodity code is made up of a number of different elements such as the type of product, the material used to make it, and even the production method. You must be able to accurately describe your item to search the tool. The following steps will help you get started:

  1. Enter the search term you want to use - remember an item may not be listed by name, it may be shown under what it’s used for or made from.
  2. The tool will suggest a section/number of sections, divided into chapters.
  3. The headings in each chapter describe a particular product, only select a sub-heading if your item is accurately described.
  4. If your item is not accurately described, check further down the list - if none of the sub-headings match your item use the ‘other’ heading.

When you find the correct item type you will be shown the import and export codes, and any important information connected to the code – such as whether you need a license to import or export items under this code.

Use the Trade Tariff tool to find your code. Alternatively, search the Trade Tariff A to Z index to find the right sections and chapters for common products.

Example

To classify a pair of trousers using the Trade Tariff tool you need to know:

  • what they’re made of (for example, 70% cotton and 30% polyester)
  • how they’re constructed (for example, a knitted or crocheted material)
  • if they’re for a man or a woman

For a pair of trousers made for a man, made from a knitted material that is 70% cotton and 30% polyester, the commodity code can be found by selecting:

  1. Section 11 chapters 50 to 63: ‘Textiles and Textile articles’.
  2. Chapter 61: ‘Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted’.
  3. Sub-section 03: Men’s or boys’ suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (other than swimwear), knitted or crocheted.
  4. Sub-section: Trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts.
  5. Sub-section: ‘Of cotton’ (the item is classified to cotton as this is the main material).

The export commodity code is 61 03 4200 and the import commodity code is 61 03 420000.

Help to classify your goods

Getting goods analysed

If you need to provide precise details of the composition of your goods - such as prepared foodstuffs - you may wish to obtain analytical advice from an independent laboratory of your choice at your own expense. Email the Library and Information Centre of the Royal Society of Chemistry: library@rsc.org for details of analysts.

Items packaged as a set

If your items are packaged in a set that can be used separately, you should classify each item individually. If they cannot be used separately, you can classify the set under the most significant item in that set.

If an item is made of more than one substance

As a general rule, if you have an item made of 2 substances (for example, clothing that is 60% cotton and 40% polyester) you would usually classify the item as being made from the higher percentage content. There are exceptions, so make sure you use the tool to check the appropriate section and chapter notes for your goods.

Classification codes issued by other countries

Although many countries have signed up to the same classification system, their classifications are specific to their own country. If you rely on the classification code from an overseas supplier, you’ll need to check it also applies to the UK.

Classifying goods if you’re trading with a country outside the EU

If you’re trading with a country outside the EU you can access their tariffs using the European Commission Market Access Database. You can search for a product code based on your product description. The database also gives important tariff information and how it’s applied in other countries.

Published 21 December 2018