One important item that must be on every exporter’s checklist is to obtain a Schedule B number for their product. All U.S. exporters are required to use these 10-digit numbers which are an extension of the 6-digit Harmonized System (HS) numbers that were covered in the recent Know Your Code blog post. Both HS and Schedule B numbers are tied to the same product descriptions, but HS numbers are globally utilized while Schedule B numbers only pertain to more specific U.S. classifications.
According to the International Trade Administration, “Schedule B numbers are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division to collect and publish U.S. export statistics.” As an example, Schedule B numbers are necessary to use the U.S. Census Bureau’s Global Marker Finder tool which can help U.S. exporters identify top countries by export dollar value, the yearly sum of an item’s export value to the rest of the world, and much more.
The ITA also cites that “Schedule B numbers are required to be reported in the Automated Export System (AES) when shipments are valued over $2,500 or the item requires a license.” AES is an automated system that identifies the type of goods leaving the U.S. as well as their value, origin, and who is responsible for them. Reporting must be done correctly within this system to avoid complications.
Additionally, the ITA states that Schedule B numbers are used to “complete required shipping documentation such as shipper’s letter of instructions, commercial invoice or certificate of origin" as well as "determine import tariff (duty) rates and figure out if a product qualifies for a preferential tariff under a free trade agreement.” If a U.S. exporter uses the wrong Schedule B number, the foreign buyer could end up paying a higher duty fee for goods received (it depends on shipping terms, but duty fees are usually paid by foreign buyers).
Many resources are available to assist exporters with identifying their Schedule B numbers, including the U.S. Census Bureau’s Schedule B search engine, freight forwarders, and local U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs). For those who are ready to begin their exporting journey, please contact an EXIM trade finance specialist for a free consultation.
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