Export Education: Focus on Harmonized System/Schedule B

January 20, 2022

The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s International Trade Office (ITO) offers a wide range of international trade and export compliance education to Iowa companies through a variety of avenues. It is the go-to resource guiding companies to the right answers when it comes to international trade and exporting. A primary mechanism for that is through continuing education.

The ITO staff has extensive, real-world experience in international trade, and can guide your day-to-day business needs in exporting. For many companies new to exporting, they often have questions on the different code requirements. Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers:

  • “How do I figure out my product’s tariff code?”
    The Harmonized System (HS) is an international product classification used by customs officials for levying tariffs and controlling quotas on goods. It is vital for companies to accurately assign these numbers to their products when shipping internationally, especially if they want to utilize the benefits of Free Trade Agreements. The ITO can provide resources to determine your tariff codes and obtain confirmation they are correct.
  • “What’s the difference between Schedule B and HS? Are they the same thing?”
    The HS is an international product classification used by customs officials for levying tariffs and controlling quotas on imported goods. In the U.S., it is administered by the International Trade Commission. A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number used in the U.S. to classify physical goods for export to another country and is administered by the U.S. Commerce Department and Census Bureau. The first six digits of the HS and Schedule B are the same.
  • “Do tariff codes ever change? We haven’t updated our list for years.”
    Yes, but not often or significantly. The HS is updated approximately every 5 years by the World Customs Organization (WCO), with the last revision made in January 2017. The U.S. implements changes to the HS biannually in January and July, and Schedule B changes are typically once a year in January/February.
  • “My customer wants me to submit documentation for USMCA. Do I need to know my tariff classification?”
    Yes. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), took effect July 1, 2020 and allows preferential tariff treatment for goods that meet the Rules of Origin. NAFTA is no longer valid, and the NAFTA Certificate of Origin can no longer be used. The ITO can provide an overview the agreement and guide your review of the Certificate of Origin requirements.
  • “I’m looking for classroom or webinar training – what do you provide?
    The ITO frequently hosts or co-sponsors webinars or in-person classroom training on topics that include export compliance, international documentation, specific target markets, and much more. Presenters include nationally known speakers and trainers. Visit the International Education Calendar to find more details on ITO or partner events.

For any questions related to export education, additional resources and materials, or to schedule a virtual or in-house training session with, please contact Andrea Smith at andrea.smith@iowaeda.com or 515.348.6240.

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