Trade FAQs

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Some of your Questions:

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Q. How do you identify your product's Schedule B and HS numbers?

The Census Bureau sponsors a free online reference tool called the Schedule B Search Engine that can be used to classify your products. The Schedule B search tool is the most commonly used method for classifying products. Click "search" and enter a "descriptive keyword" that best describes your product. For assistance with the search engine, please contact the Census Bureau toll free at 1-800-549-0595. If, after consulting the Search Engine, you need additional assistance on Schedule B numbers, you may contact a commodity specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division: Durable goods (metals, machinery, computer, electronic and other miscellaneous goods) call: 301-763-3259 Non-durable goods (food, animal, wood, paper, mineral, chemical and textile goods) call: 301-763-3484 For assistance identifying your appropriate HS number you may also contact your local Export Assistance Center or call the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USATRAD(E). If you are having difficulty determining your Schedule B number, you may also want to review the Customs Rulings (CROSS) database. The Census Bureau produces The Schedule B: Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States that can be ordered from the Government Printing Office by calling 202-512-1800. The stock number is 903-009-00000-4. The CD-ROM version can also be purchased from the Census Bureau by calling 301-457-1086.

Q. How does the Schedule B search work?

There are two files: 1. the Schedule B book, with the code numbers and full descriptions; 2. 6-digit Schedule B alpha index (with alternative descriptions). The search with look for whatever phrase is entered in the search field. If CARBINE is entered in the search field, it will look for any entry with the word CARBINE. If COMBUSTION ENGINES is entered, it will look for COMBUSTION ENGINES. However, if a phrase is entered in the search field that does not exist in the search files, the search will yield no results. For instance, if the word COMPUTERS is entered, the search with yield nothing when searching the Scheudle B files. However, when searching the 6-digit alpha index, it shows that computers are officially known as AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING MACHINES.

Q. I already know my Schedule B codes, but I want to see what codes are close to them. How do I search for my specific Schedule B code?

Schedule B codes, at their most detailed, have 10 digits. Assuming AABBCCDDDD is a generic 10-digit Schedule B code, it will be referred to in one of two ways: AABBCCDDDD or AABB.CC.DDDD. All of the reference books have the decimals after the fourth and sixth digits (like the second example), so that's probably the most common way. To search for a specific Schedule B code, just enter the code without the decimals. If your code is 1234.56.7890, search on 1234567890. The same holds true for searching for chapters or other Schedule B codes that are less than 10 digits. Looking for the code 0987.65? Search on 098765. This will yield a page of descriptions where 098765 appear in either the descriptions or the codes. Example: Search on 1234567890 - Results - Code Description 1234567890 Search on 098765 - Results - Code Description 098765

Q. Is the metric system required for export labeling?

The International System of Units, universally abbreviated SI, is the modern metric system of measurement. Every industrialized nation in the world, except the United States, prefers the metric system for weights and measures. Thus, the United States trading partners require at least dual labeling (U.S. units and metric units), if not metric-only measurement units on product labels. For example, the European Union (EU) currently allows dual product labeling (metric units and U.S. units), but on January 1, 2010 all products sold in the EU will require metric-only labeling.

Q. Is there a duty (import tariff) for my shipment?

Most countries have allowances for personal shipments within a certain value, or certain item quantity. Prohibited items vary by country, as do postage prices and mailing conditions. Contact your shipper for clarification.

Q. Is there a tariff (duty) that applies to my product in a foreign country?

Tariff and tax information is available from the Internet, private sources, and from the federal government. For official rates, it is always best to contact customs authorities in the country to which a product will be exported. For example, if a product is being exported from the United States to France, French customs authorities should be contacted for official tariff and tax information. The TIC can provide unofficial, estimated tariff duty and tax rates for non-agricultural products for certain countries, as well as contact information for foreign customs authorities. General information about taxes and tariffs is available on the Export.gov website. In order to determine a specific tariff, you must first classify your product according to its Harmonized System (HS) number. Note: The U.S. Government cannot provide tariff rates for products shipped from one country outside the United States to another (i.e., from France to Brazil). To obtain rates for these shipments, please call customs office of the importing countries. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. My child is studying overseas and I need to ship an iPad, laptop or a cell phone. Do I have to pay a duty?

Even though these items are for personal use, they may still be subject to duty and taxes by the foreign customs. Below are suggested HS numbers for shipping these items. Note that the only definitive authority on product classification is a licensed customs broker or Customs. HS number of iPads/tablets 847130 HS number for laptop 847130 HS Number for cell phone 851712 HS Number for MP3 player 851981 Based on the HS number, your shipper should be able to estimate duties and taxes that you will prepay or must be paid at the time the item clears foreign customs. Read more on how to find an import duty.

Q. Do I need to pay duties on personal goods when moving to a foreign country?

For shipping personal goods when moving to another country, please consult the consulate of that country and a major international shipper specializing in such transactions. The commercial section of Foreign Embassies and Consulates can be found in Washington D.C. as well as many US major cities and may also offer direction on their particular country requirements.

Q. Should I insure my shipment?

If the terms of sale stipulate that the exporter is responsible for insurance, the exporting firm should either obtain its own policy or insure the cargo under a freight forwarder's policy for a fee. If the terms of sale make the foreign buyer responsible for insurance, the exporter should not assume (or even take the buyer's word) that adequate insurance has been obtained. If the buyer neglects to obtain adequate coverage, damage to the cargo may cause a major financial loss to the exporter. Shipments by sea are covered by marine cargo insurance (see a sample certificate). Air shipments may also be covered by marine cargo insurance or insurance may be purchased from the air carrier.

Q. What are Incoterms?

The new Incoterms; 2010 became effective January 1, 2011. Incoterms--which is an abbreviation for International Commercial terms--are a series of sales terms. They are published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and are widely used in commercial transactions. In addition to providing a set of rules for the interpretation of commonly used trade terms, Incoterms; 2010 accomplish the following: 1. Significantly revises Group D listed in Incoterms; 2000; 2. Reduce Incoterms from four groups to two groups, allowing trade experts to choose the most suitable rule related to the mode of transport; and 3. Reduce the absolute number of Incoterms from 13 to 11. Moreover, Incoterms; 2010 offer additional guidance which assists users in selecting the most appropriate Incoterm for each transaction. The revised terms also spell out rules regarding the use of electronic procedures; detail information on security-related clearances for shipments; and offer advice with respect to domestic trade. Learn more about Incoterms 2010

Q. What are Incoterms used for?

Incoterms; provide a common set of rules to clarify responsibilities of sellers and buyers for the delivery of goods under sales contracts. They apportion transportation costs and responsibilities associated with the delivery of goods between buyers (importers) and sellers (exporters) and reflect modern-day transportation practices. Incoterms; significantly reduce misunderstandings among traders and thereby minimize trade disputes and litigation.

Q. What are the Incoterms 2010?

The two main categories of Incoterms; 2010 are now organized by modes of transport. Used in international as well as in domestic contracts for the first time, the new groups aim to simplify the drafting of contracts and help avoid misunderstandings by clearly stipulating the obligations of buyers and sellers. Group 1. Incoterms; that apply to any mode of transport are: EXW Ex Works FCA Free Carrier CPT Carriage Paid To CIP Carriage and Insurance Paid To DAT Delivered at Terminal DAP Delivered at Place DDP Delivered Duty Paid Group 2. Incoterms; that apply to sea and inland waterway transport only: FAS Free Alongside Ship FOB Free on Board CFR Cost and Freight CIF Cost, Insurance, and Freight View Incoterms 2010 with Definitions For a comprehensive discussion of Incoterms and their use, watch our free webinar.

Q. What are the requirements for exporting Motor Vehicles?

For U.S. Titled Vehicles, the owner must provide a Certificate of Title or a Salvage Title. If vehicle is leased or a recorded lien exists, the provisional owner must provide a separate note from the lien holder which expressly states that vehicle may be exported. For newly manufactured vehicles that are purchased from a U.S. manufacturer, distributor, or dealer a Manufacturers Statement of Origin (MSO) must be provided Vehicle must be registered with the US Customs 72 hours prior to leaving the country. For more information on exporting a motor vehicle consult the US Customs. There may be restrictions on the age or type of vehicle that may vary from country to country. For additional information on car exports, you may want to read exporting a car. Customs broker or freight forwarder should be able to answer most of your questions.

Q. What does export insurance usually cover?

Export shipments are usually insured against loss, damage, and delay in transit by cargo insurance. Carrier liability is frequently limited by international agreements. Additionally, the coverage is substantially different from domestic coverage. Although sellers and buyers can agree to different components, insurance coverage is usually placed at 110 percent of the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) or CIP (carriage and insurance paid to) value. Exporters are advised to consult with international insurance carriers or freight forwarders for more information.

Q. What exactly is searched with the Schedule B search?

The text of the 10-digit Schedule B codes are searched as well as an alphabetical index of the 6-digit Schedule B codes.

Q. What if I can't find what I'm looking for with the Schedule B search?

First, try searching on synonyms. Then, try searching on substrings. The word COMPUTERS may not show up in the Schedule B search, but the word COMPUTER will. If you have too many choices in the results, try searching the results page with the SEARCH PAGE option of your browser. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center (TIC): Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. What is a freight forwarder, what services do they provide and how can I find one?

A freight forwarder is a person who is hired to move shipments between foreign and domestic locations, or a portion of the way. Freight forwarders handle many of the formalities involved in exporting and importing such shipments. Additional information about finding a freight forwarder.

Q. What is a Harmonized System (HS) classification number, the Schedule B number, and is there a difference between the two numbers?

The Harmonized System Classification is a 6-digit standardized numerical method of classifying traded products. HS numbers are used by customs authorities around the world to identify products for the application of duties and taxes. Additional digits are added to the HS number by some governments to further distinguish products in certain categories. What is a Schedule B number? In the United States, numbers used to classify exported products are called Schedule B numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau administers the Schedule B system. Schedule B numbers, not HS numbers, must be provided on the Shippers Export Declaration (SED). The Census Bureau uses SEDs and Schedule B numbers to calculate U.S. export statistics. Is there a difference between HS and Schedule B numbers? Yes. The HS number is an internationally accepted code. The basic HS code contains 6-digits, known as a subheading. The Schedule B is a 10-digit code built upon the first 6 digits of the HS code. Additionally, the Schedule B code is a U.S.-specific coding system used by the U.S. Government to monitor U.S. exports. To find your HS or Schedule B number, you can access the U.S. Census Bureau's Schedule B Search Engine by visiting the Census Bureau website to classify your own product through a keyword search. If you require assistance in classifying your product, call the Census Bureaus Foreign Trade Division at 1-800-549-0595. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. What is a Harmonized System (HS) classification number, the Schedule B number, and it there a difference between the two numbers?

The Harmonized System (HS) Classification is a 6-digit standardized numerical method of classifying traded products. HS numbers are used by customs authorities around the world to identify products for the application of duties and taxes. Additional digits are added to the HS number by some governments to further distinguish products in certain categories. In the United States, numbers used to classify exported products are called Schedule B numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau administers the Schedule B system. Schedule B numbers, not HS numbers, must be provided on the Shippers Export Declaration (SED). The Census Bureau uses SEDs and Schedule B numbers to calculate U.S. export statistics. There is a difference between the HS classification number and the Schedule B number. The HS number is an internationally accepted code. The basic HS code contains 6-digits, known as a subheading. The Schedule B is a 10-digit code built upon the first 6 digits of the HS code. Additionally, the Schedule B code is a U.S.-specific coding system used by the U.S. Government to monitor U.S. exports. To find you HS or Schedule B number, visit the Export.gov website and click on "Harmonized System or Schedule B number." From there, you can access the U.S. Census Bureau's Schedule B Search Engine by clicking on "Search the database," or, go directly to the Census Bureau website at http://www.census.gov/scheduleb to classify your own product through a keyword search. If you require assistance in classifying your product, call the Census Bureaus Foreign Trade Division at 1-800-549-0595. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center (TIC): Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. What is the ATA Carnet?

An ATA Carnet (a. k. a. "Merchandise Passport") is a document that facilitates the temporary importation of products into foreign countries by eliminating tariffs and value-added taxes (VAT) or the posting of a security deposit normally required at the time of importation.

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