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Import, US Customs


All goods that enter the United States are categorized according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The act of placing goods into the correct category is called classification.

Classification determines how much duty will be collected. Classification is more than simply looking up an item in an index. It is a very complicated process requiring the application of the General Rules of Interpretation; the section, chapter and subheading notes; and the Explanatory Notes. The importer is responsible for properly classifying his merchandise before entry. If he is not sure how to properly classify an item, he can submit a request, in writing, for a binding classification ruling to the National Commodity Specialist Division, U.S. Customs, Attn: Classification Ruling Requests, New York, NY 10048. The rulings will be binding at all ports of entry unless revoked by the Headquarters’ Office of Regulations and Rulings. If an importer is not satisfied with the binding ruling received from New York, he or she can appeal it to the Headquarters’ Office of Regulations and Rulings, Washington, DC 20229. The Customs Service will not issue binding rulings in response to oral requests. Import Specialists can give oral advisory rulings but the classification-related opinions or advice of Customs Service personnel at one port are not binding on the Customs ports elsewhere. Oral inquiries may be made to Customs offices regarding existing binding rulings that might cover your importation. Binding rulings may also be researched on the Customs web site at

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