HS Codes, Tariffs, and Taxes

When shipping a product overseas, the exporter must be aware of packing, labeling, documentation, and insurance requirements.

When shipping a product overseas as part of a commercial transaction, the exporter must be aware of packing, labeling, documentation, and insurance requirements.

To ship a product overseas, exporters have at least four options. Many exporters rely on an international freight forwarder to perform these services. Some companies utilize the services of Shippers' Associations. Other companies use express delivery or mail services. It is also possible for exporters to arrange their own shipping.

You can find out more about shipping at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site. Exporters should evaluate each option to determine which one works best for their unique situation.

Incoterms 2010

The new INCOTERMS® 2010 became effective January 1, 2011. Incoterms--which is an abbreviation for International Commercial terms--is a series of sales terms. They are published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and are widely used in commercial transactions. In addition to providing a set of rules for the interpretation of commonly used trade terms, INCOTERMS® 2010 accomplish the following:

1. Significantly revises Group D listed in INCOTERMS® 2000;

2. Reduces Incoterms from four groups to two groups, allowing trade experts to choose the most suitable rule related to the mode of transport; and

3. Reduces the absolute number of Incoterms from 13 to 11.

Moreover, INCOTERMS® 2010 offers additional guidance which assists users in selecting the most appropriate Incoterm for each transaction. The revised terms also spell out rules regarding the use of electronic procedures; detail information on security-related clearances for shipments; and offer advice with respect to domestic trade.

Schedule B and HS Numbers

The Harmonized System (HS) assigns a 6-digit number to each product that is traded internationally. Each country can assign, on its own, four additional numbers, making the entire number 10 digits. The United States does this with its Schedule B system.

Tariffs and Import Fees

Tariffs or duties are a tax levied by governments on the value of products imported from one country into another. Before you export to any country, you need to determine what the tariff rate is on your product(s) as well as any import fees for that country.

Common Export Documents

There are many common export documents that have to accompany export shipments including the Shipper's Export Declaration, invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin... and the list goes on.