Import: Tariff Classification
Combined Nomenclature (CN)
All European Union (EU) countries use the standard customs tariff known as the Combined Nomenclature (CN), which is based on the Harmonized System with an addition of two digits. Customs tariffs on goods imported to Spain are the same as for all other member states of the EU.
Harmonized System (HS) Code
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS) is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying traded products, setting and collecting trade tariffs, guiding tax policy, establishing rules of origin, and collecting data on virtually every aspect of global trade, including quotas, pricing, and transport statistics. The HS is maintained by the World Customs Organization or WCO (www.wcoomd.org), an independent intergovernmental organization with more than 180 member countries. The WCO updates the HS every five years with the most recent version taking effect in 2022. Companies that engage in international trade are responsible for making necessary updates and using the correct HS code to label their products for shipping. WCO Trade Tools (www.wcotradetools.org) provides an up-to-date HS database.
The HS code gives a uniform coded description of the type of the product, so that applicable duties and taxes can be easily determined. The basic HS code consists of six digits: a four-digit heading plus two additional digits to form the subheading. Sub-subheadings (eight digits) provide greater specificity for many items; the maximum specificity is encoded in 10 digits. Individual countries can elect to use an eight- or 10-digit HS number for their customs purposes.
This code is the key by which duty rate is applied; it also indicates whether an import license or permit is required for a commodity. Therefore, it is important that the importer knows and uses the correct commodity code for the goods planned for import. To obtain the product code, the importer can contact the customs authority or other relevant authorities in the home country, or a forwarding agency.
Online Customs Tariff Database (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté or TARIC)
TARIC is the EU's online database that allows economic operators to locate tariff measures, agricultural and commercial measures, and measures relating to the restriction of movement of goods, by the CN code of the goods in question. It is used to determine the rate of duty, any other charges that are to be paid on import, and it indicates whether a license or permit is required in order to import the commodity into the EU. (See the Duties and Taxes page for more information.)
Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Tariff
The Most-Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate applies to imports from all countries that use the HS and are not party to free trade agreements (FTA). The customs duty tariff and the import/export requirements for the product are dependent on the HS code of the imported goods.
Preferential Tariff System
Parties to preferential agreements benefit from a reduced tariff for products exported to the EU. There are different preferential agreements for developing countries exporting to the EU. Examples of preferential agreements are the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP), Cotonou Agreement, and different trade agreements between the EU and some developing countries. (See the Trade Agreements page for further information.)
To make use of a lower duty rate, the rules of origin must be met and the product must be accompanied by a Certificate of Origin.
Note: The above information is subject to change. Importers and exporters are advised to obtain the most current information from a customs broker, freight forwarder, logistics professional, or the local customs authorities.
Article written for World Trade Press by Brielle Burt, Jennifer Goheen, and Nina Bellucci.
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