Taxes and Tariff Codes


The shipment will be subject to duty and possibly tax (e.g., VAT) on entering the destination country. Some tariff codes have a 0% rate, and many countries allow duty-free importation for temporary imports. Research and estimate duty and VAT if it's a concern For temporary exports, get a carnet, plan on posting a temporary import bond, or plan to drawback the import duty when the item is returned.

Tariff Codes

The US has two systems of 10-digit tariff codes, Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and Schedule B. Both are based on the international Harmonized System, which provides the first 4 or 6 digits. Although the claim is that "There is a Schedule B number for every physical product, from paperclips to airplanes.", and there are about 17,000 entries, at times, particularly when dealing with low-volume research items, we seem to have items not yet envisioned in the tariff codes.

The HTS is always used for import into the U.S.  It can also usually be used for exports from the U.S., supplanting the earlier Schedule B.  HTS and Schedule B are similar but not always the same -- the Census Bureau has a list of HTS numbers than cannot be used for exportMore information on Schedule B and Harmonized System.

Search engines are limited, it may be more reliable to go directly to the HTS (alternate version). Twenty-two 22 sections branch into 99 chapter, like Section I:

Section I Live animals; animal products
Chapter 1 Live animals
Chapter 2 Meat and edible meat offal
Chapter 3 Fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates
Chapter 4 Products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included
Chapter 5 Dairy produce; birds eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included.

Each of these in turn subdivides into headings, subheadings, and statistical suffixes:

Heading/Subheading Stat. Suffix Article Description
0101   Live horses, asses, mules and hinnies
0101      Horses
0101.21.00   Purebred breeding animals
0101.21.00 10   Males
0101.21.00 20   Females
0101.29.00         Other
0101.29.00 10  Imported for immediate slaughter
0101.29.00 90       Other
0101.30.00 00       Asses
0101.90        Other
0101.90.30 00    Imported for immediate slaughter
0101.90.40 00    Other

Finding the most appropriate HTS is a matter of working through the increasing specificity from heading to subheading to statistical suffix for the closest match.

The HTS also has appendices for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and intermediate chemicals.

Need help?

Contact the MIT Export Control Compliance Team at, or by phone at 617-253-2762 (Janet Johnston).