Customs, E-Commerce | 10. July 2024

Accurate HS Codes = Faster Deliveries: How eClear is Reforming Customs Clearance

Whether managing a vast inventory or handling complex logistics, understanding the importance of accurate HS codes and the available solutions is crucial. by

  • How do accurate HS codes impact delivery times? Accurate HS codes reduce delays in customs clearance by ensuring correct categorization of products, which streamlines the process and prevents additional inspections.
  • What are the consequences of incorrect HS code classification? Incorrect HS codes can lead to delayed deliveries, increased costs due to fines and additional fees, potential legal issues, and damaged customer relationships.
  • How does CustomsAI help with HS code classification? CustomsAI automates the HS code classification process using AI, reducing human errors, enhancing compliance, and speeding up the customs process.


In international trade, the accuracy of Harmonised System (HS) codes is crucial. Yet, businesses often struggle with incorrect HS codes, leading to significant delays in customs clearance, unexpected fees, and severe compliance issues. These errors disrupt supply chains, causing missed delivery deadlines and dissatisfied customers. Customs brokers and logistics professionals also face the tedious reclassification task, further complicating operations. Navigating customs compliance and trade regulations can be overwhelming, especially when HS code mistakes create unforeseen hurdles.

Why HS Codes Matter (More Than You Think)

HS codes, or Harmonised System codes, are standardised numerical codes used globally to classify traded products. These codes, developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), help customs authorities determine each product’s tariffs, duties, and regulations. The system includes over 5,000 commodity groups, each identified by a unique six-digit code, with further subdivisions added by individual countries.

Accurate HS code classification ensures that products are correctly categorised, facilitating smoother customs clearance and compliance with trade regulations. These codes are the backbone of international shipping, influencing duty calculations and trade statistics.

Consequences of Errors

Errors in HS code classification can severely impact both operational efficiency and financial health:

  • Delayed Shipments: Incorrect HS codes often lead to delays in customs. Misclassified goods may be flagged for additional inspections or reclassification, causing significant hold-ups. This results in missed delivery deadlines and disrupted supply chains, tarnishing business reputations and customer satisfaction.
  • Increased Costs: Financial penalties for HS code errors can be substantial. Companies may face fines, additional import fees, and storage costs for goods held at customs—these unexpected expenses strain resources and profitability.
  • Potential Legal Issues: Misclassification can lead to legal challenges, especially if errors are considered attempts to evade duties. Companies might face in a costly way legal disputes or stricter scrutiny in future transactions.
  • Damaged Customer Relationships: Delays and additional costs can harm customer relationships. When shipments are delayed, and expenses rise, customer trust and satisfaction suffer, driving customers to seek more reliable partners.

The Hidden Costs

Beyond immediate fees and penalties, HS code errors can subtly affect a company’s bottom line:

  • Operational Disruptions: Persistent HS code issues lead to ongoing operational disruptions. Frequent reclassification and dispute handling drain resources and divert attention from core business activities.
  • Reputation Damage: In the competitive world of international trade, reputation is crucial. Repeated customs clearance issues can damage a company’s standing, making attracting and retaining clients harder.
  • Lost Opportunities: Time and resources spent resolving HS code errors could be better used to explore new markets or expand product lines. The opportunity cost of dealing with these errors can limit a company’s growth potential.

The Challenges of HS Code Classification

Complexity: The HS code system is a vast and intricate framework with over 5,000 commodity groups, each identified by a unique six-digit code and further subdivisions added by individual countries. Navigating this complexity requires a profound understanding of the product and the HS code structure. Businesses with diverse inventories often find accurate code assignment daunting, leading to misclassification and resulting in significant delays and additional costs.

Changing Regulations: HS codes are regularly updated to reflect technological changes, trade patterns, and international agreements. The World Customs Organisation (WCO) typically updates the system every five years. These changes require continuous monitoring and adjustment, challenging businesses without dedicated compliance resources. Staying current is crucial for accurate classification and compliance with the latest customs regulations and trade policies.

Product Variations: Classifying unique or complex products adds another layer of difficulty. For instance, an electronic device with multiple components may fall under different HS codes. Deciding the most appropriate classification requires knowledge of the product and how similar products have been previously classified. This challenge is amplified for innovative or custom-made products that do not fit neatly into existing categories, leading to inconsistencies and errors in customs clearance.

Human Error: Manual classification of products is prone to human error. Despite training and resources, mistakes such as misinterpretations or typos can occur. This risk is higher in large organisations where multiple employees may be involved, leading to inconsistent application of codes and potential compliance issues.

eClear: Our Solutions Simplify Customs Compliance

ClearCustoms is designed to streamline the import process of low-value goods (under €150) into the European Union, particularly for e-commerce businesses handling B2C imports.

This full-service customs clearance solution automates the entire process, ensuring swift and efficient movement through necessary channels, reducing delays, and enhancing customer satisfaction.

  • Faster Lead Times: Utilises a network of strategically located airports and ports to expedite customs clearance, significantly reducing lead times.
  • Cash-Free Consumer Experience: Handles all customs duties and taxes in advance, offering consumers a seamless, cash-free experience and eliminating additional fees upon delivery.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Provides real-time tracking through barcode capture, allowing businesses and customers to monitor shipments from dispatch to delivery, building trust and satisfaction.

How It Works:

  1. Airport Logistics: Goods arrive at networked airports or ports.
  2. Customs Inspections: Automated inspections ensure all necessary checks are completed swiftly and accurately.
  3. Handover to Last-Mile Carriers: Cleared goods are handed over to last-mile carriers for delivery to the consumer, ensuring minimal disruption and faster delivery times.

CustomsAI is an AI-powered solution for accurate and efficient HS code classification of entire product inventories.

This advanced software automates the tariff classification process, ensuring products are correctly categorised according to international trade regulations. It is particularly valuable for businesses with large and diverse inventories, helping maintain compliance and streamline operations.

  • Increased Efficiency: Automates the labour-intensive HS code classification process, significantly improving operational efficiency.
  • Reduced Costs: Reduces the need for manual classification, saving on labour costs and avoiding financial penalties associated with misclassification.
  • Improved Compliance: Combines AI algorithms with expert oversight to ensure classifications are accurate and compliant with the latest customs regulations.
  • Scalability: Designed to handle large volumes of data, ideal for businesses looking to expand internationally and manage extensive product catalogues.

How It Works:

  1. Data Input: Product information is fed into the CustomsAI system.
  2. AI Analysis: AI algorithms process the data and compare it against a vast database of HS codes and trade regulations.
  3. Expert Oversight: Tariff experts review the AI-generated classifications to ensure accuracy and compliance.
  4. TARIC Code Assignment: Final, verified HS codes are assigned to the products, ensuring all items are correctly classified.

At eClear, we excel in customs regulations and cutting-edge technology. Our in-house tariff experts possess deep knowledge and experience in international trade, enabling us to provide reliable and accurate customs compliance solutions tailored to specific business needs. Our advanced tools and services streamline customs processes and enhance operational efficiency.

eClear maintains the highest standards of compliance. We stay up-to-date with the evolving regulatory environment to ensure accurate classification and smooth customs clearance. Our solutions are continuously reviewed and updated to reflect the latest customs regulations and trade policies, minimising the risk of errors and associated penalties.

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