HS codes, commodity codes and customs tariff numbers

What is an HS code, commodity code or customs tariff number? How do you find out the code or number and why is this necessary as a SPACEGOATS customer?

This code or number classifies products into an exact category for customs and is required for international shipping or customs clearance.

This is based on the following concept: To record all products that cross borders in one category in an internationally uniform manner. As a result, the former national customs categories in each country are combined into one.

What is an HS code, commodity code or customs tariff number?

The commodity or customs tariff number has 8 or 11 digits, depending on use, and contains the 6-digit HS code.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is responsible for developing and updating the Harmonized System (HS) of the tariff nomenclature. This global directory for goods and consists of descriptions and numbers and is internationally standardized.

The first 6 digits of the commodity or customs tariff number are in the Harmonized System. This is why it is often called HS code.

At EU level, the Combined Nomenclature (CN) extends this number by two digits (7+8). Two further digits (9+10) indicate EU Community measures within the framework of the Integrated Tariff of the European Union (TARIC).

The last digit (11) applies to national regulations and purposes.

Why does SPACEGOATS need the HS code or commodity code?

At SPACEGOATS, like any other merchant, we are obliged to report intra-European goods movements to Intrastat. This European authority collects trade statistics as an economic indicator for the EU. The 8-digit number is required for this reporting.

Why do I, as a seller and SPACEGOATS customer, need the HS code or the commodity code?

The seller is required to correctly clear customs on imported or cross-border products. The customs tariff number is the basis for this. Depending on the category and code, the customs clearance for a product may vary.

Even small things can have a significant impact: For example, a cell phone cover can easily slip from one category to another by containing only one specific substance in the material.

How do I find out the code or number?

It can be complicated to obtain reliable and correct information about the HS code or the commodity or customs tariff number, because this is done through highly bureaucratic governmental agencies.

Unfortunately, semi-official databases relating to the topic often do not provide 100% correct information, so there is no way around official information.

The Electronic Customs Tariff (EZT) is a service of the German customs administration – unfortunately it is outdated and often unclear.

A database on European level is available at TARIC. The FAQ on the same page answers questions about TARIC.

The easiest way is to contact the German customs authorities directly. In this direct contact, the customs office will give the merchant the correct number.

Alternatively, it is of course possible to hire a service provider such as hellocustoms to take care of all customs related tasks.
For more information, please refer to this IHK information sheet.