Process of Classification

The General Interpretative Rules (GIR) provide a step-by-step basis for the classification of goods and ensure uniform interpretation of the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature.

In every case, the goods must first be classified in the appropriate 4-digit HS heading, followed by the appropriate 1-dash subheading, and the appropriate 2-dash subheading and so on. You should not proceed directly to the lower-level subheadings without first determining the appropriate heading.

Step 1: Understand the Product

Below is a list of questions which might assist you to understand the product better:

  • What is the product? (Is it an animal product, vegetable product, chemical, foodstuff, beverage, article, machinery, textile, jewellery, equipment, vehicle, instrument, etc?)
  • What is the function of the product? (You can request for an operating manual or product demonstration to understand more about the product function)
  • Can the product function on its own? Is the product a part or component of another product?
  • What is the manufacturing process of the product?
  • What is the material of the product?
  • What are the ingredients of the product?
  • Is the product a pure chemical or mixture of different chemicals?

Step 2: Apply General Interpretative Rule 1

  • Locate the HS Section where the product is likely to be classified in.
  • Read the Section Notes that apply to the Section. If the product can possibly be classified in more than one Section, read the Section Notes for each section to identify the most appropriate Section.
  • Once the appropriate Section is identified, locate the Chapter(s) in the section. Read the Chapter(s) Notes for the Chapter(s) identified.
  • Identify the possible Heading(s) after reading all the Headings in the Chapter(s) you have identified. Read the Heading text very carefully to make sure that it fits the product. Re-check the Section and Chapter Notes to confirm that the product is not excluded, or not directed to another Heading.

Step 3: Apply General Interpretative Rules 2 to 5

  • Note that Headings are mutually exclusive. A product can only be classified under one Heading. If you have more than one Heading under consideration, you will need to use GIR 3 to decide between them.
  • Apply GIR 2 to 5, where appropriate, in sequential order.

Step 4: Apply General Interpretative Rule 6

  • Once the Heading is selected, the product must be classified at the Subheading level. The Subheading can only include products which are included in the Heading to which they apply.