Customs Tariff Law: Basics Explained

Lilla Zsitnyanszky

September 20, 2023

German Version

In this post, we will summarize the relevant customs tariff provisions. What legal information do I need to consider in classification processes? What are the customs tariff provisions in the EU and on a global level? We will list the key elements here to give you a brief overview. The basis is always the Harmonized System of the World Customs Organization, but there are further and specific EU provisions. The good news is that customs law is harmonized within the customs union. This means that a customs tariff provision is identical and applicable in e.g. both France and Germany.

General Interpretation Rules

The central rules for the classification of goods in the customs tariff are the General Interpretations Rules (GIRs) 1 to 6 for the interpretation of the Combined Nomenclature (CN). These provisions are included in Annex I of the CN and regulate, among other things, the handling of incomplete or unfinished goods. When systematically classifying a product into the corresponding position and ultimately into the correct code number, these rules must be strictly followed.

In addition to these legally binding classification rules, there are other classification decisions (HS Explanatory Notes, CN Explanatory Notes or individual decisions, court decisions, etc.) that must be considered for classification. Extensive explanations of the Harmonized System, GIRs, and the CN are available as additional instruments for interpretation.

EU-Level Provisions
  • Basic Regulation on the customs tariff and statistical nomenclature as well as the Common Customs Tariff, the basis for the Combined Nomenclature (CN) and TARIC

  • CN Explanatory Notes: Explanatory Notes to the Combined Nomenclature (CN Explanatory Notes) of the European Union: last consolidated version

  • Individual decisions on the Combined Nomenclature: Implementing Regulations

  • Court decisions/ECJ judgments: Collection of the European Court of Justice

  • Minutes of the Committee on the Customs Code, Customs Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature

Global-Level Provisions
traide Support

There is a wealth of information and legal provisions to consider when it comes to classification. If the classification is incorrect, everything is incorrect: customs duties, export declarations, preferential treatment, export control provisions, excise taxes, sales taxes, and so on.

Why Choose traide AI?

At traide, we are dedicated to the customs tariff number. Our goal with traide is to offer an intelligent software package that achieves and maintains the completeness, currency, and integrity of an entire company's product master data (sometimes millions of products) according to customs tariff requirements over time. In addition, we address the issues that arise before the actual classification process and significantly influence it. This includes, in particular, the quality of the product description, which often provides inadequate information or presents this information in an unstructured and distributed manner (e.g., in HTML format on a webshop or in product data sheets).

At its core, traide software functions as an intelligent digital customs tariff expert. It helps to quickly find the correct customs tariff number, acting as a "Tariff Assistant." It also automatically checks already classified product inventories for formal and substantive accuracy and provides feedback to the user in case of errors. The result is significantly increased throughput and a lower error rate for classified products. This frees up staff resources, creates room for scaling, and enhances security.

Do you have any questions about this? Feel free to write to us! We are happy to assist you.


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