Guide

Classifying imports and exports

The Tariff Classification Service

You can use the UK Trade Tariff to look up classification codes.

If after using this service you are unable to self-assess your products, and need additional support, you can email the team on: classification.enquiries@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

You must only detail one item per email.

To ensure your enquiry is dealt with efficiently, please include the following information in your email request:

  • what the product is
  • what it is made of
  • if it’s made of more than one material please explain the breakdown of the materials
  • what it’s used for
  • how the product works / functions
  • how it’s presented / packaged

The products listed below will require you to provide additional information.

  • footwear - include the type (shoe, boot, slipper etc.), upper material details, outer sole material details, the heel height and the purpose for men or woman
  • food - include precise composition details by percentage weight of all the ingredients to 100% and the method of manufacture or process undergone e.g. fresh, frozen, dried, further prepared / preserved etc
  • chemicals - include the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, whether the product is a liquid/powder/solid and include the percentages of the ingredients
  • textiles - please include the material composition, how it is constructed (knitted /woven) and the name of fabric
  • vehicles - please include the age, the engine type (petrol or diesel), the engine size, whether the vehicle is new or used, whether the vehicle is over 30 years old and whether it is in its original condition. Is the vehicle going to be for everyday use?

A classification officer will respond by providing you with non-legally binding classification advice based on the information you have supplied.

If you’d like customs to make a binding decision on correct classification of your goods, you should apply electronically for a Binding Tariff Information (BTI) ruling. Find out more about electronic BTI in Notice 600.

This BTI will be legally binding throughout the EU for up to 6 years after the date of issue.

BTI is usually free - however, you'll have to pay costs incurred through laboratory analysis, obtaining expert advice and returning your samples.

BTI provides you with:

  • the correct commodity code for your goods
  • a detailed description of your goods, enabling any customs regime to identify them
  • legal justification for the decision TCS has reached
  • a unique reference number

BTI can only be obtained before any customs procedures take place. Your request may be refused altogether if you:

  • don't plan to import or export the goods in question
  • have made a similar application in another EU member state
  • can't provide complete information about your goods

Enter your BTI reference number in Box 44 of the Single Administration Document (SAD), which must accompany your goods throughout the EU. Read more about declarations and the Single Administrative Document.

You should complete a separate application form for each type of item you want classified.

BTI appeals

If you're unhappy with a BTI decision you may lodge an appeal with HMRC. You have 45 days to request an independent review of the decision. If you're unhappy with the review you have 30 days to apply for a tribunal hearing.

Find out how to apply for a review of a BTI decision.

Read about Binding Tariff Information (BTI).