The import/export business of the U.S. is a complex, trillion-dollar industry with global impact. To keep track of goods leaving the United States, schedule B numbers are used as part of the export process. It’s important to understand when to use a Schedule B number, where to find them, and more.
A Schedule B number, or Schedule B code, is a 10-digit export code assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division to classify all exported products. As part of the international Harmonized System organizing imports and exports into general categories, Schedule B numbers further specify each product.
The following guide will help explain the importance of these codes and how they are used in international trade.
A Schedule B number is an export code assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division to classify all exported physical products. The code provides a way for companies to find the import nation’s specific product number, thereby determining duty rate. All codes are part of the international Harmonized System (HS). This system is used to organize imports and exports into general categories recognized worldwide.
Each nation has its own way of further defining products beyond those general categories. The Schedule B system is used as the unique identifier in the United States. Because it still needs to work within the Harmonized System, the first six digits of a Schedule B number will match the product’s internationally recognized HS number.
Schedule B numbers are used for further product classification within the general category assigned by the HS number when shipping to a foreign country.
You should know a product’s Schedule B and HS codes to :
Considering the variety of tasks Schedule B codes are used for, it’s safe to say that they play a vital role in the import/export process. Therefore, if you plan to be involved in importing and exporting, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of Schedule B.
The short answer is no, Schedule B numbers are not universal. Schedule B is unique to the U.S. and does not necessarily match codes used by foreign nations. For successful export of a product, you need to have both the Schedule B number and the foreign product code of its destination. The foreign code is needed to determine tariff classification at the port of entry and generally makes international trade a much smoother process.
A product’s HS code, the first six digits of the Schedule B, is generally accepted internationally as part of the classification system overseen by the World Customs Organization (WCO). When this is not the case, a product’s HS code from another country can be found through foreign tariff databases such as the Customs Info Database.
A product’s Schedule B number can be found using the Schedule B Search engine. The search engine is made available to you free of charge by the U.S. Census Bureau. Schedule B numbers can be looked up based on product description. The more specific the description, the easier it will be to find the correct Schedule B.
Consider this step-by-step example:
|1: Describe your product||Bicycle|
|2: Add in known details or confirm the initial details listed||Bicycle; self-propelled; not stationary|
|3. Review provided results to ensure descriptions match your product||Bicycles and other cycles (including delivery tricycles), not motorized.|
|4. Record given Schedule B number for desired description||87.12|
Realize that codes themselves will vary depending on any unique product characteristics. It is also important to realize that some codes DO NOT apply to a product’s usage, but rather to what the product itself is made from.
For instance, the Schedule B number for a standard bike with no motorization is 87.12, but if you specify a bike with wheels larger than 25 inches, it becomes 8712.00.2600.
In short, greater product classification = more numbers.
For difficult-to-classify products, the Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS) is available. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) rules on which products can or cannot enter and leave the United States. CROSS keeps up-to-date records of such rulings so that if you are unsure of whether your product can be exported or not, it can not only determine the legality but also find the Schedule B code that would classify it.
If you know the Schedule B for your product, but need to find the code for one related to it, the numerical part of the code can be used to search instead of starting over with the description process. The decimals within the code should be taken out for the search. Any products related to that Schedule B will then be shown.
In case further help is needed, exporters can contact a:
Our team has the knowledge and experience needed to help you locate the correct Schedule B number for your products. Additionally, we can also assist you in finding the HTS code for your imports.
To read a Schedule B, you need to know how the digits are grouped together and what they represent. Schedule B numbers are 10 digits or less. The first six digits are the HS code. Codes are typically written out with a decimal point following the fourth and sixth digits, i.e. 1234.56.7890. The numbers match up to the organization system of the U.S. Census Bureau that goes by chapters and sections, with sections having headings and sometimes subheadings.
Numbers are organized according to the following pattern:
Having an understanding of what each part of the Schedule B number represents may help you avoid misclassifications and assist in determining when further descriptions are necessary.
Exported products are overseen by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. Imports are overseen by the U.S. International Trade Commision, or USITC. The WCO which oversees the HS serves as the basis for both classification systems. This creates similarity between import and export classification systems; however, it does not make them interchangeable.
There are more HTS codes than Schedule B numbers due to the fact that the United States imports a greater diversity of products than what it exports. Both are 10-digit codes and the first six digits typically match because they are HS codes based on the Harmonized System. The last numbers of each code are what will differ.
No, Schedule B is for use with exports only. Imports are required to use an HTS Code. Despite the fact that both are 10-digits and are likely to share the first six digits, Schedule B numbers cannot be used in place of an HTS code. However, an HTS code can be used in place of a Schedule B.
Schedule B descriptions are not as detailed as HTS descriptions for similar products. Someone looking to export footwear, as an example, does not need to search for a different Schedule B number for men’s footwear versus women’s footwear. An HTS code has this distinction along with others such as price of item, type of footwear, purpose, and even thickness of material used. The complexity of an HTS code compared to a Schedule B number is what allows it to be used for export as well as import.
Using the wrong Schedule B code is likely to result in penalty fines when your product arrives at its destination because they are primarily used to determine the duty rates you may need to pay.
Should the wrong code be used, the tariff classification of the product will be different. Regardless of what you may initially pay, when the mistake is found by customs authorities, there will be additional monetary fines and penalties imposed. It may also increase the chances of your products getting stranded at port and creating delays likely to further impact your bottom line.
With so much depending on the accuracy of paperwork for exports and imports, allow USA Customs Clearance to make sure that you have correct Schedule B or HTS codes for your imports and exports. Our consulting services can take away the guesswork and ensure a painless process from port to port.
USA Customs Clearance can offer Licensed Customs Brokers to provide clarity as you plan your imports and exports for personal or commercial use. During 30 minutes of 1-on-1 time with experienced professionals, you can ensure that product codes are correct and even get assistance with fees and other required documentation.
Have peace of mind for all your shipping needs by reaching out to USA Customs Clearance today. Get answers to your importing and exporting questions by calling us at (855) 912-0406 and see how you can benefit from our services.