Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I find more information about the agreements?
More information on each of the trade agreements featured here can be obtained from the International Trade Administration or the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR):
How do I figure out what the tariff classification is for my product?
Differing Tariff Nomenclature and HS Codes
The tariff information contained in this database includes the tariff nomenclature of the United States and its FTA partners at the time the individual agreements were negotiated. The tariff nomenclatures often contain technical descriptions of products rather than the more commonly known descriptions. For example, “cars” or “automobiles” are referred to as “motor vehicles” in the tariff schedules. Likewise, “computers” are referred to as “automatic data processing machines” in the tariff schedules. Furthermore, for some FTA partner countries, the nomenclature is in the official language of the partner country (French or Spanish).
Likewise, the tariff information contained in this database includes the Harmonized System (HS) codes (also referred to as tariff codes) of the United States and its FTA partners at the time the individual agreements were negotiated. Globally, countries harmonize their tariff schedules to the first six digits of the HS code. Beyond the first six digits, countries are permitted to assign codes in the manner they see fit. For this reason, often the code assigned by the United States for a particular product is not exactly the same as the code assigned by an FTA partner.
The U.S. International Trade Commission’s HTS Online Reference Tool is a useful tool for helping to determine the tariff classification of your product. It contains many general keywords and links them to the more technical tariff nomenclature descriptions. However, please note that this should be used only as a general reference as the United States and its FTA partners may likely classify your product differently.
Please note, the database does not account for recent changes or updates to U.S. or FTA partner tariff nomenclatures. For the most up-to-date information on the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule, consult the U.S. International Trade Commission. For up-to-date information on FTA partners’ tariff schedules, consult the customs authorities of the FTA partner.
If you are exporting goods from the United States to an FTA partner:
If you are exporting, you will need to know the Schedule B number for your product. While these numbers may not be identical to the HS code in the FTA partner country, exporters can use them to help approximate the HS code. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Schedule B Search Engine is a useful tool for determining where your product fits into the tariff nomenclature. However, please note, the ultimate classification of your good will be determined by the customs authority of the importing country.
If you are importing goods from an FTA partner into the United States:
For importers, the U.S. International Trade Commission’s HTS Online Reference Tool is a useful tool for helping to determine the U.S. tariff classification of your product. However, please note that the tariff classification for imports is ultimately determined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Why are some U.S. free trade agreements not included in this database?
Three U.S. free trade agreements have been excluded from this database because all tariffs on industrial goods have been eliminated under these agreements as of 2010. The three agreements are:
- The U.S.-Israel FTA,
- The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and
- The U.S.-Jordan FTA.
Why is my product duty-free with some FTA partners but not with others?
The United States has negotiated and implemented its free trade agreements over a number of years. Because of this, the tariff on a good imported under the U.S.-Peru agreement (implemented in 2009) might be different from the tariff applied on the same good if was imported under the U.S.-Australia agreement (2005).
Why are some of the tariff schedules in the database in French or Spanish?
The database contains the official tariff schedules negotiated under the various U.S. FTAs. For some countries, the schedules are in English. For others, the schedules are in French (Morocco) or Spanish (the DR-CAFTA countries and Peru).
What is a staging basket?
During the course of free trade agreement negotiations, goods are sorted into various staging “baskets.” These baskets determine the amount of time it takes for the products within the basket to go duty-free under the agreement. For example, all goods in the 10-Year basket will become duty-free ten years after the FTA enters into force.
What does non-linear mean?
Typically, under an FTA, tariffs on goods are reduced in equal installments (i.e., in a linear manner) over the designated period. Non-linear tariff reductions, on the other hand, take place at an uneven rate throughout the designated period. For example, a non-linear tariff elimination schedule may involve little or no tariff reductions in the initial years followed by larger cuts in the later years.
What do I do if my company is encountering a trade barrier in a foreign market or an unfair practice by a foreign company importing into the U.S.?
The International Trade Administration provides various government services that help U.S. businesses resolve common trade problems. Please see the International Trade Administration’s “Get Help with Trade Problems” website for more information.
Now that I have tariff information in hand, where can I learn more about the export opportunities for my product in an FTA partner market?
The U.S. Commercial Service supports U.S. businesses through its global network of offices. The U.S. Commercial Service achieves this by providing world-class market research, sponsoring trade events that promote your U.S. products or service to qualified buyers, providing introductions to qualified buyers and distributors, and counseling exporters through every step of the export process.
For more information about how the U.S. Commercial Service’s worldwide network can help exporters learn about new markets, call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or contact your local Export Assistance Centers.