Using the correct HS code (product code)

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

If you import or export products into or from the Netherlands, you will need to find out the HS code for your products, so that you will know which product requirements apply, and the amount of import duties and taxes you (or your customers) have to pay. You can use a tool to find the correct HS code.

What is the Harmonised System (HS)?

The HS (Harmonised System) or product code is used by customs officers worldwide to categorise products. It consists of several digits or numbers, the first 6 of which are harmonised worldwide: so, no matter where you product comes from, the main product category will be the same. There are 21 main categories.

When it comes to subcategories, however, there may be differences from one country to another. Take that into account, when your foreign supplier sends you a product code.

Tip

Do you import goods from outside the EU? In some cases, you pay less import duty or none at all (for instance, if a trade agreement exists between your import country and the Netherlands – see our article Importing products from a non-EU country).

How do I find the correct HS code?

Do you want to find out the product code yourself? You can use the Dutch Customs TARIC goods nomenclature database. It lists all categories and codes for products you import or export.

You can search by product, or browse all categories to find the correct code. This is how you use it:

Search by product name

  1. Go to the TARIC goods nomenclature database on the Dutch Customs website.
  2. Switch the language to English in the top right hand corner.
  3. Choose Nomenclature in the top menu.
  4. Press Search by text.
  5. Enter your search text (for example, 'cheese') and press Search.

The results page lists all product codes that contain your search text.

Finding your product in the full nomenclature list

  1. Go to the TARIC goods nomenclature database on the Dutch Customs website.
  2. Switch the language to English in the top right hand corner.
  3. Choose Nomenclature in the top menu.
  4. Press Query by nomenclature.
  5. If you know part of the code, fill it in under Commodity code and press Search. You will see a list of folders that match the code you entered. If you do not know (part of) the code, browse the folder structure you see under the Search button.
  6. By clicking the folder images, you expand the categories. Do so until you find the correct code.

Looking up tariffs, taxes, and procedures

Use the EU Access2Markets Trade Assistant search to look up the current tariffs, taxes, procedures, trade barriers, and other relevant information for the transport of your product.

  1. Go to the Trade Assistant Search.
  2. Fill in the name of your product or the HS code under Product name or HS code.
  3. Where does the product come from? Choose the country from the drop-down list.
  4. What is the destination of the goods? Choose the country from the drop-down list.
  5. Press Search.
  6. You will see the search results in the tab: Search result list. If you prefer to see the entire list of products, choose the tab Browse list of goods.
  7. Click the result you wish to see the trade information for.

Where can I find help finding the correct product code?

Finding out which product code to use can be quite difficult. Many products are not listed literally in the goods nomenclature. For instance: a computer is classified under 'automatic data processing machines'. Here are a few links to help you determine the right product code:

Call the Dutch Customs office

Call the Dutch Customs office if you need help finding the correct HS code for your product. The number is 0800–0143 (from outside the Netherlands: + 31 45 574 30 31).

You can also enlist the help of a customs consultation bureau, or an expeditor (company directory, in Dutch). Be aware though that they may not get the code 100% right, since they have only your description (by phone) to go by.

If you want binding advice in writing, you can apply for a European Binding Tariff Consultation (EBTI) from the EU website. An EBTI is valid for 3 years after its issue date, across the European Union.

If your product code is easy to find in the goods nomenclature database, you won’t need help. But if:

  • you don’t have enough knowledge or experience to determine the right product code;
  • you do not fully understand the classification rules, even with the explanation provided;
  • your products are in the high-risk category (chemicals, products on which high import, agricultural or anti-dump duties are levied, dual-use goods, strategic goods);

then calling the Dutch Customs office is a good idea.

Important

Be aware that the Dutch Customs sometimes investigates if the product code used is the correct one. If your product code turns out to be wrong, Customs may charge you tax arrears (for up to 3 years).

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK