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What are Customs Tariffs and why is the knowledge of them so important for your business?

If you are a business that imports and exports through the U.S., then your business would be being taxed with what is called a tariff (or duty). Therefore, it is so important to fully understand what these customs tariffs are and how to receive refunds of those duties paid back. Customs tariffs briefly explained are taxes assessed by a government on goods imported into and exported from the U.S. For these taxes to be determined correctly, Classification then comes into play.

Classification plays an important role in making sure that you reduce risks and costs for your business on the importation of goods. It is imperative that you get tariff codes right and that each product is under the correct classification to avoid over or under-paying customs tariffs.

What are the key items and terms that are important to understand when it comes to Tariff Classification?


Published by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), a Customs Tariff Schedule is the primary resource for determining how to classify goods imported into a country, as well as provides technical information on its structure and modification.

It is important to note that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP, formerly the U.S. Customs Service) is solely authorized to interpret the HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule), to issue legally binding rulings or advice on the tariff classification of imports and their treatment upon entry into the United States, and to administer the customs laws.


In every country around the world, a Tariff Classification is a numbered category in a country’s Customs Tariff Schedule to which goods belong. Classification is used to impose duties and taxes and record the country’s international trade statistics. This is every business’s opportunity to get it right with customs, classify each good accurately and reduce costs and mitigate risks for their business.


Tariff Classification relies heavily on what is called the Harmonized Commodity Description, Coding System, and General Rules of Interpretation (GRI’s). This system is used to classify any product and is composed of 99 chapters.


Every company needs to work with a professionally licensed customs broker as it is key to getting things right and ensuring that you are compliant with Customs’ rules and regulations such as coordinating with key government customs agencies like CBP or CBSA and requesting a binding or advanced ruling of what your product should be classified as.

Every product comes with notes in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System which provides additional information on how they may apply to your goods. And so, when consulting a customs broker, each business needs to know the following details about their goods very well:

  • All materials present or incorporated in the final product

  • The features of the product

  • The end purpose of the product

Classification can be a very complicated process and so working with a professionally licensed customs broker like CITTA Brokerage Co. will ensure that your goods are properly reviewed by our master classifiers. We can help you prepare your imports and ensure that you get every step covered from the onset. We get customs off your back, every item properly assessed and classified, which saves you a whole lot of headache, unnecessary expense, and precious time.

Don't forget to join our Free CLASSIFICATION webinar!


11:00-12:00 pm MDT | 1:00-2:00 PM EDT

𝗖𝗜𝗧𝗧𝗔 𝗕𝗿𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗖𝗼. - Your neighborhood Duty Drawback experts!

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