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Classifying Your Goods

Struggling with identifying which commodity code to use for you goods?

The UK trade tariff can be a daunting place, and knowing where you goods fit in amongst the thousands of commodity codes can be a tricky process.

Thankfully, HMRC can offer you some advice to make the process a bit easier for you.

They offer two different options for you, which is either advice, or a legally binding decision.



To be offered advice, you will need to e-mail

There is a list of requirements that they ask for when e-mailing for advice which has been listed below:

  • company name, if applicable

  • contact name

  • contact details (email address and a contact number)

  • the option which best describes your item:

  • agricultural, chemical, textiles or ceramics – including food, drink, plastics, cosmetics, sports equipment, games, toys, clothing, shoes

  • electrical, mechanical or miscellaneous – including vehicles, optical and measuring devices, machinery, musical instruments, metal, furniture, lighting, paper, printed matter, straw, glass, wood, jewellery

  • what the goods are made of (if more than one material, provide a breakdown of materials)

  • what the goods are used for

  • how the goods work or function

  • how the goods are presented or packaged

It will help us with your request if you can also state:

  • any code you think best fits your goods

  • part of the code if you’ve been able to partially classify it

  • You should send a separate email for each item you need help with.

Goods that need more information

You’ll need to give more detailed information to classify some goods.

For footwear classifications, include:

  • the type, for example shoe, boot, slipper

  • upper material details

  • outer sole material details

  • the heel height

  • the purpose, for men or women

For food classifications, include:

  • the full breakdown of the ingredients, including the percentage weight of each ingredient

  • the method of manufacture or process it has undergone, for example fresh, frozen, dried

For chemical classifications, include:

  • the Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number

  • if the product is a liquid, powder or solid

  • the full breakdown of the chemical, including the percentage of every ingredient

For textile classifications, include:

  • a detailed description of the item

  • material composition

  • how it’s constructed, for example knitted, woven

  • name of the fabric

For vehicle classifications, include:

  • age of the vehicle

  • engine type (petrol or diesel)

  • engine size

if the vehicle:

  • is new or used

  • is over 30 years old

  • is in its original condition

  • will be for everyday use


Legally Binding Decision

A legally binding decision is a written tariff classification of your goods. It’s not a legal requirement, but it provides assurance that your goods have the correct commodity code and:

  • is legally binding

  • is generally valid for 3 years

  • helps calculate customs duties, export refunds, licensing requirements, quotas or other restrictions in advance

  • alerts you to any import or export licensing requirements or if quotas or other quantitative restrictions apply to your goods

There are three steps you must follow to be able to obtain a legally binding decision.

  1. Get an EORI number.

  2. Get a Government gateway user ID to register for an Advance Tariff Ruling decision.

  3. Email the Tariff Classification Service to get access to the European Union Gateway website for a Binding Tariff Information decision.

If you’re importing into or exporting from Great Britain

You’ll need to apply for an Advance Tariff Ruling. You can only get an advance ruling if you both:

  • have an EORI number that starts with GB

  • intend to import into or export from Great Britain

If you’re importing into or exporting from Northern Ireland or the EU

You’ll need to apply for a Binding Tariff Information decision.

Binding Tariff Information decisions can be issued by HMRC to traders or individuals that have an EORI number that starts XI for goods you’re intending to import into or export from:

  • Northern Ireland

  • any EU member states, if you’re established in Northern Ireland

If you’re not established in Northern Ireland and want a ruling on goods being moved in EU countries, you must apply in the country where that activity will take place.


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