Classification of imported goods

What is classifying?

You will need to decide the correct class or tariff code for your goods according to the 

 in order to clear your goods through Customs. 

It is important to make sure that you:

  • pay the correct amount of duty and wharfage;
  • contribute to the accuracy of import and export trade statistics;
  • know if an import licence is needed.

 If you classify incorrectly, then:

  • you could be penalised if your goods are incorrectly classified on the Customs entry;
  • you may have to pay any arrears;
  • your goods may be delayed and/or seized.

Who is legally responsible for classifying goods?

You, as the importer are legally responsible for the correct Tariff classification of your goods. This applies even if you employ an agent to handle your customs entries on your behalf.

How do I classify my goods?

You must apply the six general rules for the Interpretation of the Nomenclatures governing the principles of the Tariff classification procedure. These must be applied to your goods from the outset, and in sequential order.

The rules can be found within the First Schedule to the 


. You should be able to classify most of your goods using rules 1, 5 and 6. These relate to the legal terms of the headings and subheadings and their relevant section and chapter notes. They also relate to the nature of the packaging for the goods involved.

If you think that rules 2, 3 or 4 might apply to your goods then seek advice from us, as it is likely that more complex Tariff classification principles will be involved.

The Customs Department has a limited capacity to provide on-demand classification advice .  Our Customs Classification Section should only be consulted as a last resort or in cases of difficult or complex classification problems. For immediate goods classification help we suggest that importers utilise one of the many open-source classification services available online.

Once you have exhausted all other available options you may email with the full specifications of the goods in question, giving your classification for the goods and including illustrations, photographs or samples as appropriate.  We will acknowledge receipt of your request within two working days; and if the goods description and specifications are sufficient, we will provide a written response within 10 working days.

We recommend that you examine a copy of the current 


Updated 1 April 2024