In the world of international transport, people often refer to an HS code (Harmonized System code). This is an 8 or 10 digit code used by customs to classify goods. Thanks to this code, customs knows exactly what kind of goods are being imported into the country. But how do you get this HS code? And when is the HS code required? In this blog, we will address your questions about the HS Code.

What is an HS code?

If you send a shipment from/to a country outside the European Union, your shipment will pass customs; your shipment must be imported through customs. An HS code or commodity code is used to tell customs what kind of goods are being imported. This HS code is placed on the customs invoice, which must always be enclosed with shipments from/to countries outside the European Union. Customs uses the HS code to calculate the amount of the import duties. Import duties are a type of tax that must be paid to protect the home market. The number of import duties is determined by the customs (a government agency) in the destination country. These possible costs are always passed on to the recipient by default (Incoterm: DAP). If you would like to know more about import duties, please read our blog.

When is an HS code required?

An HS code is only required for shipments from/to countries outside the European Union. For example, a shipment from Belgium to the United States is subject to customs duties because the United States is a country outside the European Union. In short, your shipment will pass customs and therefore a customs invoice is required. This customs invoice specifies all goods that are imported into the country. By specifying an HS code per type of good, the customs authorities know exactly what kind of goods are being imported. In short, only for shipments from/to countries outside the European Union a customs invoice is required and therefore also an HS code.

What is the advantage of placing an HS code on my customs invoice?

All shipments from/to countries outside the European Union pass customs. Customs will review the customs invoice to check which goods are being imported. If you add an HS code on the customs invoice, customs will know exactly what kind of goods are involved, so your shipment will be released earlier and delivered to the recipient. When it is unclear which goods are being imported, customs will inquire with the sender/recipient which goods are being shipped. In such cases, customs often ask for an HS code to specify the goods. So if you put the HS code on the customs invoice as standard, there is less chance of delay at customs and your shipment will be delivered faster. In short, we recommend that you always place an HS code on the customs invoice. You can read our blog about HS codes on here.

How can you look up an HS code?

You can use our own tool to acquire an HS code. You can read more information about our HS code tool on this page.

But how do I then create a customs invoice?

In our shipping platform MyParcelParcel, you can import/export from/to more than 220 countries. In addition, we have made the shipping platform so that you can easily create a customs invoice within a few clicks. You must enter the HS code you selected during a booking in MyParcelParcel when creating a customs invoice.

You can then specify the other fields ("Price per item", "Number of items" and "Total weight") and then finalize your shipment. Through MyParcelParcel, you will receive the shipping labels and also the customs invoice for dutiable shipments. If you do not have a MyParcelParcel account, you can register for free via this page. Creating a customs invoice during a booking is also free of charge. You only pay for the shipping costs of the carrier you have chosen.

What if I can't find the HS code?

We are happy to help you find the right HS code, please feel free to contact us. Feel free to start a Live Chat via the blue icon (bottom right) or contact us by telephone on 085 877 16 56 (Netherlands) or 038 087 099 (Belgium). We are available for your questions from Monday to Friday (08:00 - 17:30). You can also send an email to

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