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Are you using the right commodity codes? There are easy ways to check.

Customs clearance is an inevitable part of international shipping. To avoid delays, it’s important to make sure that you are providing customs authorities with all the information they require about the contents of your shipment.

Every kind of item you can ship has its own commodity code (also known as an HS code), an 8-10 digit number used to classify goods and determine the applicable rate of tax and duties.

You not only need to find the right codes for your goods, but make sure the ones you’re using are up to date. Fortunately you can do this quickly and easily with the help of our tools.

How often do commodity codes change?

Small changes are made to tariffs on a fairly regular basis. These changes are usually to the duties, taxes and controls on particular goods, but the commodity codes themselves can also change as they are merged or reorganised, or new ones are added.

How do I verify the codes I use?

When you book a shipment with us, you can use our commodity code finder when filling out your contents declaration. Click on the magnifying glass icon to bring up the finder.

Commodity Code field

The database we use for commodity code search will always reflect the latest updates. When you search for a code by keyword, it should only show codes that are still in use:

Commodity code finder search tool

However, as these search results are sometimes based on just one or two keywords, it’s always a good idea to check these codes against the full descriptions provided on the UK government website, to make sure you’ve got the right one.

GOV.UK tariff description

You can refer to the notes accompanying each code to find out more details about import/export rules and exclusions, both in general and for specfic destinations.

Extra notes in GOV.UK tariff description

If you’ve obtained codes from elsewhere, like Royal Mail, we strongly advise using these tools to confirm that they are still up to date.

Re-using codes from previous orders

You will need to be careful when re-using codes from previous orders, including those saved to your account, as they may not reflect the latest updates.

However, if you save items to your Product Library, these can be edited at any time. So with a little housekeeping, this can be a great way of maintaining an up-to-date list of codes that are relevant to you.

Commodity codes saved in Product Library

Due diligence

The important thing is to remember to double-check all of the information you provide for your shipments. Carriers and forwarders have no control over customs, and the responsibility for using the correct commodity codes ultimately lies with the shipper.

However, as you can see, we’ve made the look-up process as quick, easy and hassle-free as possible - so you'll still be sending those goods in no time at all!

More information

Creating your contents declaration - with guides for using the Product Library and commodity code finder

Classifying your goods - what are commodity codes? (GOV.UK)

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