The fundamental rules for the classification of goods into a customs tariff which is complying to the Harmonized System for the description and coding of goods (HS) are according to general rule 1 solely the six general rules of classification, the terms of headings and the notes (and according to general rule 6 the terms of subheadings and subheading notes). The rules of the tariff schedule are complex and difficult to overview. The overall numbers of headings and subheadings are known, but the notes of the HS-nomenclature, the Combined Nomenclature (CN) and the Common Customs Tariff (CCT) of the European Union (EU) have only been examined for the CN 2007 in a systematic way. This paper reviews all notes (and subheading notes) which are in force worldwide as by the HS 2017 (in front of sections and chapters), examines the previous versions of the HS 2002, HS 2007, HS 2012 and it examines also the sections and chapters in front of which the EU has placed further so called “additional notes” in its CN which are only valid throughout the EU. The HS 2017 contains 386 notes and 63 subheading notes, which are valid worldwide. The EU has added 109 additional notes within the CN and the CCT (as of December 2016), and can thereby influence the application of the CCT by help of different and more rigid definitions of goods and methods of analysis. 60 percent of the additional notes are applied for agricultural goods (chapters 01 – 24). The 558 notes of the CN are legal rules that are used next to the 1,222 HS-headings, 5,387 HS-subheadings and 9,528 CN-subheadings which are an impressive proof of the complexity of the rules of the CCT which contains more than 16,500 legal rules for the classification of goods.
Customs Law World Customs Organization Harmonized System Customs Classification Tariff Classification Trade Policy