New Classification Explanatory Notes

19 May 2011

The EU Commission has published a new version of the Explanatory Notes to the Combined Nomenclature (CN) or customs tariff. Although these notes are not legally binding they are considered by the courts to be an important aid for interpreting the tariff. The following link will take you to these notes:

Classification Explanatory Notes (CNEN)

The customs tariff has over 16,000 commodity codes and in many cases importers will experience difficulties in determining the correct customs classifications for your goods. Any errors are likely to lead to either underpayments or overpayments of duty. HM Revenue & Customs can take retrospective action going back three years to collect any underpayments leaving some businesses open to large exposures. You can also seek to recover overpayments of customs duty from wrong classification (without the risk of penalties) going back three years.In our experience, many businesses are not referring to the detailed rules at the beginning of each section and chapter of the tariff although these do have legal effect. Referring to these notes together with the Explanatory Notes will help resolve many areas of uncertainty.

Further Help

If you continue to experience uncertainty when classifying your goods then we can help you by obtaining legal classification rulings (BTI). Our process can include carrying out detailed analysis of the competing customs classifications by reference to existing rulings, court cases, subscription only sources etc., and drafting strong arguments for classifying your goods to the most favourable legitimate classification. If you would like more information on how we can help you with this then please e-mail


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