Classification of Products – it is necessary to classify all products to be imported or exported using the Harmonized System (HS) in order to determine any shipping requirements and applicable laws.
The Harmonized System (HS) was developed by the World Customs Organization to classify products for customs purpose. The Harmonized Codes (HS Codes) are typically 6-10 digits long. By international agreement, most countries recognize the same first 6 "harmonized" digits. To get a duty rate one needs to have the complete product number used by the importing country.
Exporting - Schedule B: When exporting from the U.S. the system of classification is called Schedule B and it’s managed by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Shipper’s Export Declaration has a section called Schedule B Description of Commodities where you type in the description of the product you are exporting. Schedule B Numbers can be found online at: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/
Importing - Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS): When importing into the U.S. the system of classification used is called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), administered by the Office of Tariff Affairs & Trade Agreements. The system is used to determine duty rates, and track import statistics. HTS can be found at: http://hts.usitc.gov/
Additional Product Classification Assistance:
The North American Industry Classification System website provides info on the six-digit code used as an industry –wide classification system that replaced the Standard Industrial Classification in 1997.
U.S. Census Bureau provides a list of Codes under the North American Industry
Classification System (NAICS).
Trade Information Center - Tax and Tariff Information
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Standard Industrial Classification Index lists 4-digit SIC codes
SICS Search at the U.S. Department of Labor website
UPS Harmonized Codes & Tariff Schedule Search
Tax and Accounting Sites Directory Online provides links to country-specific tax resources.
European taxation, links and news by the European Union Online
EU Value Added Tax rates, legislation, proposals, refund procedures
International Organization for Standardization
Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail registration service that offers U.S. entities (citizens, industries, organizations) an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect their businesses and their access to international markets.
The Laws & Metric Group provides guidance to packaging and labeling requirements, net content, and use of metric system to U.S. exporters.
U.S. government’s CE mark information page: The site outlines products requirements, documentation, how to obtain CE marks and more.
CE Mark Compliance for Exports to Europe contains information about U.S. exports that need CE and advice how to obtain it.
Government’s Export Portal Safe Harbor is a voluntary system designed to help companies avoid interruptions in their business dealings with the EU
EU directives and standards and info on EU member states
China Compulsory Certification Mark Compliance for Exports to China with info on the products required to have a CCC and conformity procedures.