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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.
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. 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.
TipDo 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).
Finding the correct HS code
Do you want to find out the product code yourself? Go to the TARIC goods nomenclature database on the Dutch Customs website. Switch the language to English in the top right hand corner, choose Nomenclature in the menu, and press Search by text. The page lists all product codes that contain your search text.
How do I know which product code is right?
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:
- The goods nomenclature classification rules as used by Dutch Customs.
- EU information and factsheets to simplify classification of several product groups (among others, textiles, footwear, edible vegetable roots, edible fruit and nuts, plastics, and computers).
- The European Binding Tariff Information database lists the outcomes of EU-states customs consultations on the classification of goods (European Binding Tariff Information Consultations).
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.