How to Determine International Tariff Costs

Three Parts:Finding Your Product Classification NumberDetermining the Applicable RateCalculating Your Cost

If you want to export products you make to other countries, you must consider tariffs when computing the total cost of those goods to overseas buyers. Tariffs are taxes imposed by other countries. They vary significantly among countries, and even within the same country depending on the type of product you want to sell there. To determine international tariff costs, you must first find out how your product is classified, then check the rate for that product class in the country where your buyers are located. In addition to tariffs, there also may be other sales and use taxes that must be included to calculate the total cost of your product.[1]

Part 1
Finding Your Product Classification Number

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    Check the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). The U.S. International Trade Commission publishes the HTS, which is available online for download in PDF format. The tariff rates listed apply to imports into the United States, but you can use it to find the appropriate classification number for your product.[2][3][4]
    • The entire HTS is huge – the size of an unabridged dictionary – but the online version allows you to browse the table of contents and click on specific chapters that apply to broad categories of products.
    • Keep in mind that very specific details about your product may go into its classification, such as its design, where its parts come from, and the identity of your customer (whether you're selling to individual customers or to businesses).
    • Through browsing the HTS, you may be able to find several possible classification numbers. In that case, it could take additional research to determine exactly which number applies to your product.
    • Labeling your product with the wrong Schedule B number could result in additional tariffs or penalties, so it's important to make sure you have the correct number.
    • Your Schedule B number also must be included on import and export documents required for shipping your product, and certificates of origin associated with your product.
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    Use the Census Bureau's search engine. The Census Bureau hosts a search engine on its website that can help you find the classification number for your product. You can use the database to search for specific words or phrases, or to browse the entire Schedule B book.[5][6][7]
    • To find the search engine on the Bureau's website, click on the "Business & Industry" topic heading, then click on the "Foreign Trade" subcategory to navigate to Schedule B.
    • The Schedule B search engine allows you to use various key words to find a possible Schedule B number, but it's important to understand that it will only produce results based on the words you enter, not close or similar results.
    • As a result, if you use the wrong words you may end up with the wrong classification number.
    • Browsing the section that corresponds to the classification can help you confirm that the number you've isolated is the correct one you should use to classify your product.
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    Watch instructional videos. Both the Census Bureau and the government website have a number of instructional videos, webinars, and other online tools that you can use to learn more about the classification process.[8][9][10]
    • has a webinar that not only walks you through finding the correct Schedule B number for your product, but using searchable online databases to find the applicable tariff rate for your product in the country where you want to sell it.
    • You also can find an instructional video on the Census Bureau's website that explains how to use the Bureau's online tools to find the classification number you need.
    • In addition to the video, the Bureau's website includes a number of informational articles and "how to" guides related to various foreign trade issues.
    • also has a number of informational articles and FAQs about foreign trade and international tariffs, including links to definitions and descriptions on other government and third-party websites.
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    Seek additional assistance. If you still have questions or concerns about the classification of your product after using the online tools and resources, you may want to speak with a commodity classification expert.[11]
    • U.S. classification experts are available by phone at 1-800-549-0595. Select menu option "2" to speak with an expert. You can describe your product and the expert will help you identify the correct Schedule B number.
    • Classification experts also are available via email at the address

Part 2
Determining the Applicable Rate

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    Check the Customs Info database. The first six digits of the Schedule B number associated with your product are the Harmonized System (HS) number used internationally to classify your product. The customs info database provides tariff rates for each HS number.[12][13]
    • You can use your Schedule B number to determine whether your product is eligible for reduced tariff rates under a free trade agreement.
    • While the U.S. government does not provide a database of all foreign tariffs, you can search online using the third-party information provider Customs Info.
    • To use the database, you must register with the service by providing a valid email address. After registration, the service is free to use.
    • Customs Info provides tariff and tax rates for shipments from the U.S. to more than 120 countries around the world.
    • Once you register and confirm your email address, you're ready to search. You will need to enter the country where you plan to ship your product and the HS number associated with your product.
    • When your search result appears, click the applicable button to calculate tariffs and taxes associated with your product.
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    Work with your shipper. If you have a shipper, freight forwarder, or customs broker, they also may be able to help you determine the applicable tariff rate for your product. Shippers may have additional information for tariffs in countries not listed in the customs info database.[14]
    • If you don't already have a shipper, you may want to contact an international shipping company such as UPS, FedEx, or DHL.
    • Contacting several companies can allow you to compare rates and services and choose the best shipper for your business needs.
    • If you're shipping to some parts of the world, it may be beneficial to contract with a customs broker or freight forwarder.
    • You can find an appropriate broker or other vendor by searching on the websites of the Shippers Association, the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, or similar organizations.
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    Search public tariff resources. Many countries also have tariff databases available online that you can search to find the tariff rate associated with the product you want to ship there. These databases typically are free to use, although some may require registration.[15]
    • has a list of links to some of the most commonly used databases, including the tariff schedules for Canada, China, and the European Union.
    • When you're evaluating these schedules, make sure you're looking at the tariffs associated with products that are imported into that country.
    • It can be easy to get confused and read the wrong schedule, but if you're looking at tariff rates in the destination country, your product is an import from that country's perspective – even though from your perspective it's an export.
    • Various trade unions such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) also have websites with tariff information applicable to member countries.

Part 3
Calculating Your Cost

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    Total tariff costs and customs fees. Once you have the tariff rate, you're able to determine the international tariff cost based on the amount of product you intend to export. At the same time, you should include any additional customs fees, licensing, or certification the destination country requires.[16][17]
    • The tariff rate typically is based on a certain weight of product or number of units. Make sure you measure weight accurately, typically using the metric system, so you can calculate the tariffs you'll owe at customs.
    • Some countries also may have varying tariff rates depending on the total amount of the product you import, or the frequency of shipments.
    • If you were able to use the Customs Info database, your search results would include all national and local taxes for your product.
    • However, keep in mind that if you were looking directly at the country's tariff schedule to determine the applicable tariff rate, additional sales and other taxes typically are not included.
    • Depending on the type of product you want to export, there also may be testing or inspection fees.
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    Factor in the cost of shipping. The cost to ship your product to a country overseas includes your domestic freight charges to get the product to the appropriate port, as well as ocean freight and insurance.[18][19]
    • Some shippers include required insurance in the price they quote you for transporting your products, while others may require you to purchase it separately.
    • Keep in mind that if the tariff is based on the value rather than the weight of the product, the cost of insurance typically is included in that value for the purposes of calculating the tariff.
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    Set the base price of your product. The final or suggested consumer price of your product overseas is the factory price plus all the costs for tariffs, other taxes, shipping, insurance, and any additional charges by importers, distributors, or marketers in the destination country.[20][21]
    • Keep in mind that setting a correct price may be one of the most difficult aspects of this exercise, and even experienced exporters sometimes get it wrong.
    • Your international tariff costs are only a small piece of the pricing puzzle. While you can't do much to change the total costs of exporting your product, if there's little to no demand for your product in your target country, it will just sit on the shelves and your buyers will be unlikely to purchase more.
    • Apart from overall shipping costs and the wholesale factory price of your product, you must determine what the retail markup will be. If your product is too expensive, you won't have many sales – particularly if there's already a domestic product on the market that has a lower price tag.
    • You can commission industry and marketplace studies from experts to better understand your product's potential in foreign markets. You also can do much of this research on your own for some, more common products.
    • For example, suppose you make bicycles. You know that in parts of Southeast Asia, bicycles are the primary form of transportation for most people, and that very few people own cars. You want to sell your bicycles in those areas.
    • You know the demand is there, but whether that demand would translate into a demand for your particular product depends on many factors such as the prices of bicycles that are already on the market, what your bikes have that those domestic bikes don't, and how often and for what reasons consumers in those areas purchase new bikes.
    • All of these factors – and more – will go into your calculation of the base price of your product. The sheer number of variables that must be considered leaves plenty of room for error.
    • The buyer with whom you plan to work may be able to give you some guidance on the local market that can help you reach a fair and more reliable number.
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    Quote an estimate. After you've totaled the cost per unit of your product, you're ready to create a price estimate for overseas buyers, which typically is communicated using a pro forma invoice.[22][23]
    • A pro forma invoice form is available on for you to download and use to quote an estimate to your international buyers.
    • Your quotation not only includes the price of the product, but provides a method and proposed dates for shipping.
    • You also should include the terms of sale and method of payment, including any amounts required in advance.

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