Heat, armed guards and classifying sets - just another day at the WCO

Day 3 evening was again very hot in Brussels. Not as lively as the previous evening though there were still loads of Police and armed guards in the city centre.

Day 4 at the WCO and we are now into day 2 of 3 of the Harmonised System presented by Mr Izaak Wind and  Dr Alvaro Fernandez-Acebes

This session was again well attended, and we are now getting deep into the rules of classification, which as you can imagine raised lots of concerns and questions.

We initially started with the General Interpretation of Rules 1, 2 and 3 and the step by step process, and the first question should always be Wii ------ not to be confused with the games consol.
In WCO terms this is the very first question you should ask when you are classifying goods and the acronym stands for What is it.

This led us into the next question, What is the description of goods, and again this raised many questions when a product is made up of several materials, and the example given was an imported table, with wooden legs, metal frame and a glass top. Well as you can imagine this got into a bit of a debate, especially when the course is attended by many customs officers from different countries with a wide range of viewpoints. We could have spent a whole day talking about composite goods and their classifications.

I eventually i got a question into Izaak, which was an actual question I received whilst in a previous role in the manufacturing sector.
I was asked by the Purchasing Manager to give the HS code for Liquid Nitrogen. I researched this product and looked in chapter 28 of the Nomenclature and the extended notes, but could not find a suitable HS code for the product, so I took the easy way out and asked the Freight Forwarder to assist and advise what they would input into CHIEF. The answer they gave was 2804300000. I questioned this, as this part of the chapter is relative to Nitrogen gas, and there is no mention of it  in liquid form.

Izaak  took a bit of time, but  did come back after  checking this article, and whilst he advised it is open to interpretation he advised that 2804300000 was probably the correct classification, even though this chapter relates to gases only and no mention of the chemical elements being in liquid form  in the extended notes, so I suggested that if this is the correct classification then it should be a consideration  to make the extended notes clear that some of  these gases in 28.04 can be provided in liquid form as well as gas.

There were many view points from different countries customs authorities regarding composite goods, how they are classified irrespective of what the item is used for, so it was fascinating to understand that many customs authorities will not accept what the importer declares as the HS code for a product, especially if a higher revenue can be collected by using a similar HS code.
I wouldn’t like to put money on who would win if this was challenged by the importer.

During the afternoon Dr Alvaro Fernandez-Acebes gave a further interesting presentation on the role of the customs laboratory in the HS Classification and it is importance for classifying different chemical products e.t.c. and Izaak did further clarifications on spare parts and how specific parts are classified.

If you check the following link you will see the updated news on the WCO website and I am in the photo if you can work out where I am. The photo is a bit small but I am at the front, 4th person down from the top


The weather is still unbelievably hot although we have a nice breeze so it is like walking with a hair dryer in your face, although I am not complaining.


Written by Calvin Sherratt, Customs & International Trade Advisor S&H 22nd June 2017

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