It goes without saying that the people who make your company work believe they are extremely knowledgeable about your company’s products. But are they really? How much do employees know about key products, especially in terms of imports and exports?


It’s true that not everyone needs to know the ins and outs of product classification. But those who do need to know really need to know a lot. Product classification is extremely complicated. It requires a thorough understanding of federal regulations, international regulations, and exactly how products are made and packaged.


Here at Vigilant Global Trade Services, we know just how complicated imports and exports can be. That’s why we developed industry-leading worldwide classification services. We work with both importers and exporters to make sure all products are properly classified and reported. And in so doing, we take the pressure off our customers.


Thousands of Pages Long


Imports are governed by the Harmonized Tariff Standard (HTS) written into the Tariff Act. Exports are governed by regulations established by the U.S. Census Bureau. HTS documentation is, by itself, more than 3,000 pages long. Needless to say that there is a lot of information to learn if you expect to get product classification right.


A lot of us have trouble reading a few dozen pages of income tax information. Imagine taking those tax booklets and multiplying them thousand times over. That is what you get with import and export manuals. There is just so much information that it can be hard to wrap your brain around.


But that’s not all. Knowing the regulations is just the starting point. People in charge of determining product classifications also have to deal with product specs as well. Imagine being a company that imports hundreds of different products from around the world. People within your company have to know the intimate details of each and every product.


Specs, Drawings, Etc.


Imagine being an importer of electronic components used to build laptop computers and tablets. Your company imports a ton of different items. Would you expect anyone person on your staff to be the expert in all of them? Probably not. Moreover, you wouldn’t expect the product classification team to instantly be able to recognize when products change. So how do you keep up?


People in charge of product classification need to have access to specs, drawings, and any other information required to properly classify. They have to read and understand the documents they are sent. They have to know the subtle differences between products and whether or not changes to a given product would mean using a different HTS code.


To say this is all highly complex is to understate the obvious. There may be nothing more complicated in the world of imports and exports than product classification.


Exports Are Easier


Thankfully, exports are easier to classify. There are only 9,000 Schedule B codes assigned to them. By contrast, there are more than 19,000 HTS codes for imports. Why such an enormous difference? Because the U.S. HTS system relies on more detailed codes to provide more information about imported products.


With 19,000 codes to work with, it would be unreasonable for any one person to expect to know them all. Even knowing a hundred codes is a gargantuan task. Thus, a better strategy for properly classifying goods is to understand how the coding system works so that any product can be quickly identified and then properly coded.


Now you know why we offer import and export classification services. While you may know your products, we know how to classify them. That is what’s important to us.

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