Explaining the Difference Between HTS Codes and HS Codes

A graphic of a magnifying glass over the text HS code vs HTS code, with logistics and import imagery in the background
HS codes are universal while HTS codes are country-specific. They are both used to classify imported goods on a global scale. Discover how we can help you find your import codes.
December 3, 2021
Last Modified: June 13, 2024
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The primary difference between HS and HTS codes comes down to the level of specificity in classification they provide. While the difference may not seem major, using the wrong one could have a big impact on your import declarations.

An HS Code is a standardized number associated with a given commodity that identifies that product worldwide. It is a 6-digit number universal to all countries under the International Harmonized System. An HTS code ranges from 7 to 10 digits and provides country-specific product and tariff classification.

In this blog, I’ll drill down into the differences between these two types of codes and how they can help you properly navigate the world of international trade.

What is An HS Code?

A Harmonized System (HS) code is a 6-digit code used to determine tariffs and classify goods traded internationally. 

These codes are created by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and provide a standardized system for more than 200 countries and territories, streamlining trade by acting as a universal language for import classification.

Besides being used for classification purposes, the HS code is also present to help countries compile data for statistical reasons.

Related: Harmonized System 101: An Importer’s Guide to HS Codes 

What Is An HTS Code?

A Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code is a 7- to- 10-digit code providing unique tariff rates and statistical information on products imported into a specific country. In the U.S., these are called HTSUS codes and are maintained by the International Trade Commission.

HTS codes find their basis in the HS – literally. The first six digits of a product’s HTS code are the same six digits that are used to classify that product globally. The additional 4 digits classify the product further, providing specific duty rates and statistical information for U.S. (or other another country’s) entries.

Related: What is the HTSUS? (Understanding the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States)

HTS Codes vs HS Codes: A Recap

As previously outlined, an HS code is a universally used and unique 6-digit number that defines a commodity on a global scale. It makes up a portion of the HTS, but it is not an exact match because it does not contain the additional classification that make the code specific to a certain country.

Here’s an example of how these numbers work using live animals as an example:

An infographic visualizing the breakdown of HTS vs HS codes, used the code 0101.21.0010 as an example. 01 01 21 make up the six digit HS code, with each segment specifying Live Animals, Live Horses, Asses, Mules, and Hinnies, and Purebred Horses Used for Breeding, respectively. Digits 00 and 10 make up the full HTS code and refer to Purebred Horses Used for Breeding, and Male Purebred Horses Used for Breeding, respectively.
  • 010121 — The first two numbers note the chapter that a product belongs to. In this case, 01 refers to Live Animals.
  • 010121 — The second two numbers note the heading and refer more specifically to the type of live animals. In this case, the 01 stands for Live Horses, Asses, Mules and Hinnies.
  • 010121 — The third set of numbers drills down even further and notes the product’s subheading. Here, 21 denotes live, purebred horses used for breeding. This completes the HS code.
  • 01012100 — The next set of numbers is another subheading and the start of the additional classification that makes up a specific HTS code. In this case, the 00 does not provide any additional level of classification not already provided by the original subheading.
  • 0101210010 — The final set of numbers is the final subheading, or statistical suffix, which completes this commodities HTSUS code, and in this example, specifies that the code is for a male purebred horse used for breeding.

Related: What is the Penalty for Using the Wrong HTS Code?

Import With USA Customs Clearance

Now that you know the differences between HTS codes and HS codes, consider using USA Customs Clearance to properly classify your goods. 

Our licensed customs brokers can help you fill out the appropriate paperwork or find your HTS and HS codes. You can also use our HTS code lookup tool where you can search for your commodity code yourself.

If gaining clarity on tariff classification or knowledge about anything customs-related is your aim, USA Customs Clearance offers import and customs consulting sessions with our licensed customs brokers.
Reach out to USA Customs Clearance today at (855) 912-0406 to get started.

30 Minute Licensed Expert Consulting Will Personally Guide You
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Not sure which HS or HTS code to use? Leave it to the professionals.

Book a consulting session with a customs expert.

Contact our Licensed Expert Consultant >

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Schedule B Numbers the Same as HS or HTS Codes?

The short answer is no. Like HS and HTS code, a Schedule B number is also a tariff and product classification number used in international trade, but unlike those two, a Schedule B code is used specifically to monitor U.S. exports – not imports.

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