Plastic Classification: Mastery of Materials and Products (Chapter 39)

Lilla Zsitnyanszky

September 27, 2023

German Version

In this article, the basics of classifying plastic goods are summarized in a concise manner. What does "plastic" mean in the customs tariff? How are these products grouped? Let's take a closer look.

The customs tariff definition of plastic

Note 1 to Chapter 39 defines the term "plastic" as follows: 

  • Products falling under customs tariff numbers 3901-3911, 

  • suitable for being shaped by external force, 

  • retaining their shape after the removal of external force.

Classification of plastic

1) By Material

  • Of mineral origin (coal, petroleum)

  • Of animal origin (casein, chitin)

  • Of plant origin (cellulose, proteins)

2) By Manufacturing

  • Produced by chemical synthesis (e.g., polyethylene, polyamide, polyurethane - polymerization)

  • Artificially produced (chemical conversion of natural materials!)

3) By Properties

  • Thermoplastic plastics that soften when heated. They dissolve in solvents, can be molded, and harden upon cooling.

  • Thermosetting plastics that harden when heated. They do not dissolve in solvents and cannot be reshaped.

4) By Appearance

  • Raw materials (primary forms)

  • Semi-finished products

  • Finished products

Plastic raw materials (Primary forms, incl. waste Pos. 3901 - 3915)
  • This includes liquids and pastes, including dispersions (emulsions and suspensions) and solutions -> the addition of plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, and colorants is allowed, but testing of the solvent content is required.

  • Irregularly shaped blocks, chunks, crumbs, powder (including molding compounds), granules, flakes, and similar loose forms. The addition of plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, and colorants is allowed.

Plastic Finished Products (Pos. 3922 - 3926)

In this chapter, we are discussing finished plastic goods when a particular product does not meet the tariff conditions for the semi-finished products defined above. These include:

  • Bathtubs, shower trays (Pos. 3922),

  • Plastic packaging: bags, boxes, crates, etc. (Pos. 3923),

  • Tableware: plates, cups, bowls, knives, forks, spoons, etc. (Pos. 3924),

  • Kitchen utensils: cookware, storage containers and boxes, measuring cups, etc. (Pos. 3924),

  • Other household articles: garbage bins, buckets, watering cans, food containers, curtains, tablecloths, etc. (Pos. 3924),

  • Hygiene or toilet articles: bedpans, pacifiers, finger cots, soap holders, towel hooks, toothbrushes (Pos. 3924),

  • Plastic products used in construction: tanks, doors, windows (Pos. 3925),

  • Other goods: sculptures, decorative items, clothing articles, parts with general utility: screws, washers, etc. (Pos. 3926).

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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