Harmonized System Codes for Fiber Optic Products

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Harmonized System Codes for Fiber Optic Products


When importing or exporting a product, the Harmonized System Code (HS Code) for the product is often required on the customs documents. Understanding the Harmonized System (HS) and its Codes may help you understand the customs process and determine the tariff rates applicable to the products. In this article, we will explain the Harmonized System and list some common HS codes used for fiber optic products.

This article is written for casual use only and not intended to provide legal or financial advice regarding customs regulations. Readers are advised to consult an appropriate agency or professional expert for assistance.

The Harmonized System (HS) is an internationally standardized system of classifying traded goods for use in the customs process. Using a same classification system simplifies the customs process regardless of the country, and helps customs authority to determine appropriate tariff rates. Most countries have adopted the Harmonized System and its Codes for use in their customs process.

The Harmonized System assigns a six-digit code to each category of products, often listed as four digits followed a decimal point, then two digits, “8517.62” as example. In the U.S., the extended version of the Harmonized System, called Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) is used. The classification and the codes for HTS are same as the Harmonized System except for additional levels used to classify the goods into more detailed categories. HTS Code starts with the same six digits as HS Code for a given product, so they are often used interchangeably when dealing with US Customs. In this article, we will use “HS Code” for both HS Code and HTS Code for convenience, and include HTS Code in parentheses after HS Code as reference. To search for HTS Code, and hence, HS Code as well, go to https://hts.usitc.gov

For certain products in technical industries, such as fiber optic communications, the Harmonized System may not have a suitable category, or have multiple matching categories. In the end, it is up to the customs authority to determine the appropriate HS Code. It is possible to browse and check for prior rulings to see which HS Code may be used for a certain product.

For fiber optic transceivers, the most widely used HS Code is 8517.62 (8517.62.0090 for HTS Code), falling under “Machines for the reception, conversion and transmission or regeneration of voice, image or other data, including switching and routing apparatus”. Other commonly used HS Codes for fiber optic products are 8517.70 (8517.70.0000) for optical sub-assembly (TOSA, ROSA, etc.) and 8544.70 (8544.70.0000) for sheathed fiber optic cables.

Determining a proper HS Code for a product is important because different tariff rate may apply based on the HS Code used. . For example, fiber optic cable of certain length and type may have tariff applied to it while an optical component with fiber pigtail may not. The manufacturer or exporter of a product would often be aware of appropriate HS Code to use on customs declaration, but, as the final determination of HS Code lies with the customs authority, a quick search on the US ITC site or other web sites may help to confirm that proper HS Code is used.

If you have any questions on HS codes or how they apply to transceivers , contact Vitex Sales.

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