October 18, 2022

Import/Export: Properly Classifying Your Commodity is Crucial

If you import or export product, it is your responsibility as the importer or exporter to properly classify your productCustoms classifications are complex and are used to determine applicable duties, trade statistics, and other government agency requirements. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) sets out the tariff rates and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the United States. You can view a list of new or updated Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Codes that is in Excel format and searchable by commodity for fresh produce. 

WG members who import or export need to be advised that using the correct HTS codes is crucial to assist the fresh produce industry in getting the best possible trade data. Using the wrong HTS Codes is not only grounds for a potential fine, but also significantly skews the quality of the data on reports for imported and exported fresh produce.

As an example, from Jan. 1-July 31, 2022, 20.9 million pounds of green onions were misclassified under the HTS Code 0703.10.40.20, which is for onions and shallots, fresh or chilled. During the same time, only 3.5 million pounds were correctly filed under HTS Code 0703.90.00.20, which is for green onions. This means BOTH the green onion and bulb onion sectors would have ended up with incorrect data for their imports. It is crucial that the appropriate HTS code be used during the importation process as these codes represent the authoritative compilation of the tariff and statistical provisions applicable to goods in trade and to fulfill other mission-related activities, including:

  • Responding to data and analytical requests from the United States Trade Representative (USTR) or Congress
  • Conducting statutory studies of industries, free trade agreements and other trade policy issues (e.g., 332 reports); and
  • Conducting trade remedy investigations (e.g., antidumping).

The download available at this link provides updated HTS codes for the following commodities:

  • Blackberries
  • Bok Choy
  • Cilantro
  • Chili Peppers  
  • Collards
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Onions  
  • Kale
  • Mushroom
  • Bell Peppers  
  • Potatoes
  • Quince
  • Raspberries
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule is mostly intended for U.S. Customs Brokers or the responsible party for placing data in the ACE system. However, if you are an importer or exporter, we ask that you please share this list with your Customs Brokers partners immediately and insist that they use the appropriate codes for each commodity. 

QUESTIONS? Please contact Patty Willkie at USDA Specialty Crops Market News ([email protected]

FUTURE UPDATES: Patty Willkie communicates updated HTS codes twice a year (January & June). If you would like to be added to that distribution list, please contact her at [email protected].