Guide to HS Classification Codes for Medical Supplies

By | 2023-11-08T00:05:11+00:00 April 14th, 2020|U.S. Customs|

A new reference document for HS codes and classifications for medical supplies has been made available. As such, we’ll be doing a quick overview of the document! We’ve been covering a few different topics relating to the pandemic so far. If you’re interested, here is some recommended reading. 

Pandemic & importing topics: 

American Imports and Navigating COVID-19: Q&A With Founder and President Adam Lewis

Surprising Goods Spiking in Import Volume During the Pandemic

While many importers are well aware of this, if you need a quick brush-up, here is a quick definition of HTS codes. 

What are HS Codes?

Harmonized Tariff Schedule (or HTS) are codes developed by the World Customs Organizations (WCO) — to standardize the coding and classification of internally traded goods. If you’ve prepared the documentation for an import before, you might remember that an HTS code is always required for the imported goods to gain entry into the US.

Similar to HTS, HS is a classification coding system for goods in the global market. The main difference between these codes is the number of digits within the code. HS is considered to be the global standard (with 6 digits), while HTS codes are determined by the individual country (with 7-10 digits).

What is the World Customs Organization (WCO)?

WCO is an organization made up of 183 international customs departments (these participants are responsible for over 98% of world trade!). They describe themselves as a global center for customs expertise.

The WCO joined up with WHO to develop a reference doc for the coding system specifically for medical goods — to ease their entry into the US in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. They put the document together with the goal of being a more user-friendly and informative reference guide, so importers can get the information they need more smoothly. However, please note that HTS codes will possibly differ, so consult with CBP to make sure before you use a classification.

Do your imported medical supplies fall under these classifications? 

The medical goods that are referenced in this document are centered primarily on medical supplies needed to treat COVID-19. In the document, you will see that there are 8 different categories outlined. They are as follows (with examples of what is contained in the lists): 

  • Test kits and other goods used for diagnostics: test kits, swabs, vials, etc.
  • Protective garments: masks, gloves, face shields, hair nets, etc. 
  • Disinfectants and sterilization products: alcohol solution, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, etc. 
  • Oxygen therapy equipment: medical ventilators, continuous air pressure units, etc.
  • Other medical devices: CT scanners, ultrasound equipment, intubation kits, etc.
  • Other medical consumables: urine bags, lubricant jelly, paper bed sheets, etc. 
  • Vehicles: wheelchairs, etc. 
  • Other: medical/surgical furniture, medical gas cylinders, etc.

WHO and WCO have clearly stated that this document has been made to help importers navigate the customs system and move goods into the US sooner, however they do recommend speaking directly with your country’s custom authority to ensure the correct documentation is prepared. 

Here is the link to the document for your consultation: HS Classification Reference for COVID-19 Medical Supplies 

As usual, we’d like to remind you that we are partners in importing — during a crisis or not. It is currently a really tricky time for importers to navigate through, but people need goods all the same — especially medical supplies! 

If you do have any questions on how to make sure your goods (whether they are medical supplies or not) can clear US customs with ease, please reach out!

You can start the conversation with us right here.