HS classification of chemicals is challenging because until most other commodities, it requires technical expertise in chemistry and knowledge of how to determine a HS code using the general rules of interpretation published by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

HS Code for Chemicals

Chemicals are usually classified within Section VI of the HS nomenclature. This Section covers Chapters 28 to 38. These 11 Chapters come with extensive notes and elaboration in WCO’s explanatory notes.

The entire tariff book is designed to move from raw materials towards developed products as the Chapter numbers increase. Hence, Chapters 28 to 30 hold the tariff codes for single chemicals that are not mixtures. Mixtures are classified within Chapter 31 to 38. However, some exemptions and conditions exist that require some mixtures to be classified in Chapters 28 to 30. These include bulk imports of chemicals that have added substances that allow the safe transport of chemicals. Several other conditions exist hence it is important to read all the relevant notes before making a conclusion.

Pay careful attention to Section and Chapter notes to identify which products are included and excluded from which Chapters depending on whether they are packed for retail sale or in measured doses.

If you find yourself classifying a mixture, you need to consider it’s intended use as well. For example, Chapter 30 is usually where pharmaceutical products will end up. Cosmetics like face creams will end up in Chapter 33. If you cannot find a suitable Chapter from 30 to 37, you will have to start exploring Chapter 38. Products like hand sanitizers will find themselves classified in Chapter 38.

As with all attempts at HS classification, the trader must be very familiar with the product. This means the classifier must have access to the safety data sheet of the product, ingredient lists and an understanding of the product’s intended function and use. When classifying a chemical, it is also important to identify the (Chemical Abstracts Service) CAS number and where possible utilise any CAS to HSN lookup tools that local Customs authorities may provide access to.

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