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What is the HS CODE?


The HS Code (“Harmonized System Code”) is a harmonized system for cataloguing goods useful for identifying, using a customs code, universal and shared at international level, the nature of each specific product subject to import/export operations.

Basically, the HS Code consists of 6 digits, identical for all member states of the World Customs Organization. To these can be added 2 digits relating to the Combined Nomenclature, which identifies the tariffs imposed by the European Customs Union, and 2 further sub-headings of the Taric code, i.e., specifics linked to possible import or export restrictions and absolutions.

Customs headings, in addition to product characteristics, thus indicate attributes and particular measures applicable to the goods to which they refer.

We are therefore talking about a series of figures that allow the immediate identification of the products we are importing or exporting, both inside and outside the EU borders, and the constraints to which these goods are subject.

Turning then to the Taric or Common Customs Tariff, it is a combined nomenclature with the legal competence of the European Union, which guarantees European companies that there will be no unfair competition within the EU, as in the case of a customs classification system that differs from country to country.

If, on the other hand, one considers exports to non-European countries, in order to allow for customs assessment, an export customs declaration must be drawn up, in which the various customs headings relating to each exported good are specified, since it is possible to see how, within transactions with non-EU countries, there are not insignificant differences concerning import and export activities, applied in the nomenclature of the various customs headings.

In fact, if generally for the first 4 or 6 digits of a specific Customs Item there are no differences, the same cannot be said for the last numerical elements that make up the code, which undergo variations according to the different States of arrival of the goods. For this reason, it is always advisable, especially in the case of shipments to non-European countries, to rely on the advice of a professional in the sector.

To be able to easily identify the customs entry for our goods, the first step is to access the website of the Customs and Monopolies Agency (AIDA) https://aidaonline7.adm.gov.it/nsitaricinternet/.

If we already have the Taric Code, we just must select “Taric” > “View” from the “Nomenclature” menu and enter our code. If we want to find the Customs Item we are interested in and its characteristics, we must click on the “Nomenclature” menu and select “Taric” > “Taric Index” from the list.

Once we have identified the relevant Customs Heading, we can use the Taric code to find out the provisions, obligations and taxation of the product and identify the corresponding customs duty.

To obtain information on the duties applied to the various products by more than 100 third countries, documents required for import/export, any trade agreements in force between States or possible limitations and bans on certain goods, it is necessary to consult the Market Access Database (MADB), by accessing the website https://madb.europa.eu/madb/, edited by the EC.

The MADB is a service available to European companies, thanks to which it is possible, once you have accessed the site, to click on “Procedures and Formalities” from the menu on the left, under “Export from EU”, select the country to which you want to export, and enter the first 4 or 6 digits of the Taric code of our product.

Once you have clicked on the “Search” button, a screen will open containing all the useful information for an import/export activity related to the country of interest.

In particular, under the category ‘General requirements’ are listed all the documents that the customs of the destination state expect to receive regardless of the type of imported product. Whereas the category ‘Specific requirements’ lists all the documents concerning specific formalities that must be complied with according to the goods.

Once all the main information on the documentation required for a possible export of the goods has been collected, it is possible to analyze the “Tariffs” item, which can be reached from the “Other information of this product code” box, or from the menu on the left by entering the product code and the country of destination. Accessing the Tariffs section is essential to understand what customs duties and other rates apply to our goods from that country.


Tratto da Melissa Alpi – Internation Consulting (fonte Tariffe Doganali – La Guida | Alpi Melissa – International Consulting)


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