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What is a Schedule B Code? (And When Do I Need One?)

What is a Schedule B Code? (and When Do I Need One?)
A Schedule B code, also known as a Schedule B number, is a 10-digit export code assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division to classify all exported products.
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USA Customs Clearance
November 12, 2021
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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 codes are used as part of the export process. It’s important to understand when to use a Schedule B code, where to find them, and more. 

A Schedule B code, also known as a Schedule B number, is a 10-digit export code assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division to classify all exported products. As part of the international Harmonized System organizing imports and exports into general categories, Schedule B codes further specify each product.

The following guide will help explain the importance of these codes and how they are used in international trade.

 

What is a Schedule B Code?

Cargo ready to be loaded onto a plane.

A Schedule B code, also known as 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 world-wide. 

Each nation has its own way of further defining products beyond those general categories. The Schedule B code 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 code will match the product’s internationally recognized HS number.

Not Sure What the HTS Code is For Your Products?

Use our simple and easy HTS Code Lookup Tool to find the HTS code for your products.

What are Schedule B Codes Used For?

Schedule B codes 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 code and HS codes for the following reasons:

  • To determine which tariff rates (duty rates) may apply to the product or whether the product qualifies for any preferential tariff under the Free Trade Agreement
  • To check for possible restrictions through the U.S. Export Administration 
  • Completion of shipping documents such as the Shipper’s Export Declaration, letter of instructions, commercial invoices, and Certificates of Origin
  • Filing of Electronic Export Information (EEI) within the Automated Export System (AES) when the value of the product is greater than $2,500 or requires a license. 

Based on the above factors that the Schedule B codes, it’s safe to say that it plays 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 codes. 

Are Schedule B Codes Universal?

The short answer is no, Schedule B codes are not universal. Schedule B codes used for product classification in the U.S. are unique and do not necessarily match those used by foreign nations. For successful export of a product, you need to have both the U.S. Schedule B code and the foreign product specific code of their 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 a Schedule B code, is generally accepted internationally as part of the greater Harmonized System of product classification 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

How Do I Find My Schedule B Code?

Shipping containers being loaded at a port.

A product’s Schedule B code can be found using an online tool, the Schedule B Search engine. This tool is made available to you free of charge from the U.S. Census Bureau. Their website organizes the codes into 22 sections divided into 97 chapters. An additional 98th chapter is for special provisions applying only to U.S. exports, such as temporary shipments. 

Schedule B codes can be looked up based on product description. The more specific the description, the easier it will be to find the correct Schedule B code. This is because 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. 

An additional tool to find Schedule B codes for difficult to classify products is the Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS). The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency rules on which products can or cannot enter and leave the United States. CBP regularly updates this list, which means it’s constantly changing.  This database 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 code 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 code will then be shown.

In case further help is needed, exporters can contact a: 

  • Commodity specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division
  • Licensed customs broker
  • Freight forwarder
  • Local U.S. commercial service office

Our team has the knowledge and experience needed to help you locate the correct Schedule B code for your products. Additionally, we can also assist you in finding the HTS code for your products. HTS codes are required for imports coming to the U.S.

How Do I Read a Schedule B Code?

To read a Schedule B code, you need to know how the digits are grouped together and what they represent. No Schedule B code will be longer than 10 digits. Recall that 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. By themselves, the first two digits represent a chapter. Combined with the next two and read as a four-digit group, the next grouping represents the heading. Including the next two digits after the first decimal point creates a 6-digit grouping representing the subheading. These 6 digits also represent the product’s hs code. Any additional digits after the initial six are for statistical classification. These allow for further product specifications. 

For instance, the Schedule B code for a bike with no motorization is 87.12, but for a bike with wheels larger than 25 inches it becomes 8712.00.2600

In short, more numbers = greater product specification. 

What’s the Difference Between a Schedule B Code and an HTS Code?

A full ocean vessel coasting along in deep waters.

Put simply, a Schedule B code is for exports while an HTS Code (Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code) is for imports. 

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 World Customs Organization that oversees the international Harmonized System serves as the basis for both of their classification systems. This creates similarity between the two product classification systems;  however, it does not make them interchangeable. 

There are more HTS codes than Schedule B codes 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. 

Can I Use a Schedule B Code for Imports?

No, imports are required to use an HTS Code (Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code). Despite the fact that both are 10-digits and are likely to share the first six digits of hs code, Schedule B codes cannot be used in place of an HTS code. However, an HTS code can be used in place of a Schedule B code. 

Schedule B code descriptions typically cannot match the details of a similar imported product. Someone looking to export footwear, as an example, does not need to search for a different Schedule B code 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 code is what can allow it to be used for export as well as import.

Get Help Figuring Out Schedule B Codes and More

Schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with our Licensed Customs Brokers to get the help you need.

What Happens If I Use the Wrong Schedule B Code?

Using the wrong Schedule B code is likely to result in penalty fines upon product arrival at their destination. One of the primary uses of Schedule B codes is to determine any duty rates you may need to pay. Should the wrong code be used, the tariff classification of the product will be different. Whether you end up paying higher or lower duty rates, when the mistake is found by customs authorities, there will be monetary fines and penalties imposed. Aside from such fees, it increases the chances of your products getting stranded at port and creating delays likely to impact your bottom line. 

Get Help Finding Your Schedule B Code with USA Customs Clearance

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 codes or HTS codes for your imports and exports. Our consulting services can take away the guess-work 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 whether 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.

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