Classifying imports and exports

Classify your goods

Before completing the Single Administrative Document (SAD), you need to know how to use the Tariff's General Rules to classify your goods.

General Rules for classification using the Tariff

To find the correct code for your goods, use the General Rules contained in the Tariff.

There are six rules which should be applied in order:

  1. covers the main headings under which goods are classed
  2. covers incomplete or unfinished articles and articles of mixed materials or substances
  3. covers goods which can be classified under more than one description - it also covers composite goods of different materials and sets for retail
  4. covers goods which can't be classified using the first three rules
  5. covers packaging items that come with the goods
  6. covers subheadings under which goods are classed

In order to apply these rules correctly, you'll need to be able to describe your goods accurately. Many manufactured items are made up of several parts. If you're trading in foodstuffs or domestic products, for example, you need to know what they contain before you consult the Tariff. This will help make your classification as accurate as possible.

Rules 2, 3 and 4 are used less frequently than the others and you should seek help from the Tariff Classification Service when referring to them.

The Single Administrative Document (SAD), or form C88, is used to declare goods that are moved from one part of the European Union to another. This form can be completed manually or electronically, although manual submissions may well take longer to process. You can register for electronic declarations via the Government Gateway website.

Once you have found the commodity code matching the description of your goods, enter it in box 33 of the SAD - a copy of which can be found in Volume 3 of the Tariff. Alternatively, you can download the SAD form.

You should also enter the customs procedure code that applies to you in box 37 of the SAD. These two entries will determine how your goods will be treated by customs officials in the country of importation.

Read more about SAD for import and export.

Where to find the Tariff

The UK Trade Tariff is available from this website free and online for most of the information you'll need to import or export. The UK Trade Tariff also includes helpful tools for managing your Tariff information.

Access the UK Trade Tariff.