tariff code directory

Tariff code directory

A shipment’s tariff code (or HS code) is the numerical code that is used to classify it for the sake of import, export and trade statistics. Every product and raw material in the world can be classified under a tariff code. Because tariff codes are based on an international system, Customs departments from different countries can classify and control goods the same way. This international system is called the Harmonised, or HS, System.

Before you import or export a shipment, you will need to know the tariff (HS) code for all the goods contained in the shipment. The tariff code(s), will determine the duties, levies and regulations applicable to your shipment.

Use this tariff code directory to learn how tariff codes work, and under which code your goods should be classified:

The structure of a tariff code

Tariff codes are internationally identical up to the first 6 digits. Thereafter each country my subdivide their codes depending on how specifically they want to regulate a type of import or export.

Each country’s tariff codes can be found in their tariff book. The South African tariff book is hosted and maintained by SARS Customs, but you can access it via our tariff code directory below. 

The first 2 digits of a tariff code refer to the chapter in the tariff book it falls under. The first 4 digits are called the tariff heading and represent a broad category of products. A full South African tariff code is made of 8 digits and a 9th check digit. This code represents a specific product or commodity. Below you can see what a tariff code would typically look like:

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It is important that you use the correct tariff or HS code to declare imported and exported goods as the duty tax payable is linked to it. Using the wrong code could therefore make a big impact on the cost of your goods. Additionally, using the wrong code could results in Customs clearing delays and/or Customs charging hefty penalties.

For importers the easiest way to get the correct international (6-digit) tariff code is to ask their supplier. The supplier needs to put the relevant code on all their export documents and will have made the effort to get the correct one.

To get the full South African code and determine the duty rate applicable to your import, or to classify your goods for export you may consult our tariff code directory using the following steps: