Commodity Codes UK: What is the Best Way to Lookup Tariff Codes?

Go back 19 Jan 2022
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Exporting goods can greatly expand your reach but you must use commodity codes to classify your goods if you want to succeed in international trade. HS codes (HS is short for the ‘Harmonized System’) are vital to international and UK trade and help make shipping more efficient. To find the right commodity code there are several ways you can look up the appropriate trade tariff details.

The following are some of the free methods you can use to look up commodity codes UK businesses will need, which help to make managing import or exports much simpler:

  • Official UK Government Checker: All the commodity codes UK companies might use are freely available on the official government site, which has a handy search function and a full list view of all the duty and VAT rates.
  • UK Tariff Classification Service: If you are struggling you can contact HMRC for free advice. You can enter your email address and product details to receive guidance but please note that this will take up to 5 working days.
  • European Customs Portal: A helpful list and powerful lookup tool is the independent European Customs Portal website, a useful checker for when you export or import goods and need to find the right duty ratings.

Although a government or independent website works quite well there are still many pitfalls and potential problems that can arise, which is why we offer a parcel and mail handling service that eliminates the hassles of export declarations. Get in touch with us to start using our automated digital delivery service.

What is the Best Way to Lookup Commodity Codes in the UK?

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There are a few considerations when determining the best way to lookup codes for exports, which will narrow down the best method. These considerations include the following:

  • Time: If you are time poor then spending this precious commodity looking for HS codes will be detrimental to your business. In this case, an international mail handling service will be the best option.
  • Costs: People starting in the export of goods may wish to save on costs wherever possible as they find their feet. So, in this situation, the tariff classification service or free government checker may be most suitable.
  • Experience: Some people have a knack for handling mail or use an existing system. In this case, independent checkers or government lookup tools may be enough to give international customers the service they expect.

Although there is no best option objectively speaking, a managed mail handling service will remove any doubts and stresses from all the commodity codes UK businesses will ever have to deal with – so it is always the best if you are unsure!

How Incorrect Commodity Codes in UK Companies Affect Business

HS codes exist to make international trade simpler, as the numbers are recognised throughout over 200 countries – allowing different jurisdictions to collect information on the nature of your goods. The important thing to remember is that when you offer international shipping this is a legally binding decision with many consequences.

Not using HS codes correctly can result in the following issues for your business:

  • Delays at international borders: Your customers will be faced with delays to their orders if you use the wrong HS codes. Delays will lower your customer satisfaction levels quite substantially, especially if you advertise expedited shipping.
  • Fines and non-compliance penalties: Delays are a luxury compared to the fines you can face for failing to properly ship your goods abroad. Fines are entirely avoidable and will unnecessarily impact your bottom line – sometimes by a lot.
  • Seizure of goods: Goods can be seized and destroyed if they are deemed to have failed to meet a country’s standards for import. This can be an incredibly frustrating issue for large or high-value items that are difficult to pack and ship.
  • Denial of imports from certain jurisdictions: If your UK business gets flagged for not using the correct commodity codes then you may find that the company is denied imports from that country too. This can make future business a big hassle!

Overall, poor shipping standards will cost your business – and it can be incredibly confusing, annoying and simply boring to get your commodity codes right. So, whichever method you use to look up codes, make sure they are accurate.

Get Help with Commodity Codes for UK Exports

We can help you avoid the need to look up codes, trawl through lists or navigate difficult to use checkers. Proper use of commodity codes is a legally binding duty for UK businesses who wish to trade internationally, so it is crucial to get right – as there are potentially severe consequences for your business if you fail to do so!

You can use government checkers, tariff classifications services, independent lookup tools or managed services to handle commodity codes in the UK. You will see our impressive technology and excellent client service when you get in touch with us to start using our impressive international delivery service.