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The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO). It comprises about 5,000 commodity groups and encompasses more than 200,000 commodities.

The HS is used by more than 200 countries and economies as a basis for their Customs tariffs and for the collection of international trade statistics. Every commodity that crosses international borders must be classified with an HS code. The code determines how much duty is paid on imported goods. In turn, your knowledge of the duty allows you to price products correctly for an appropriate profit margin. Even when customers pay the duty, they need that information to avoid any surprise costs. HS codes may also determine whether goods are eligible for preferential treatment under a free trade agreement (FTA) and may even determine certain customs compliance requirements.

The Harmonized System is governed by The International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. Updates are administered by the WCO and occur every five years. They are based on input from member countries and changes in trade practices. Each proposed change goes through a review and comment process. The last review was in 2007 and the upcoming 2012 changes will be effective as of January 1, 2012.

The HS provides a logical structure which consists of 97 Chapters (some countries also have chapters 98 and 99), arranged in 21 Sections. Each chapter is identified by a four-digit heading, which in turn contains 6-digit subheadings. The first two digits of an HS code indicate the Chapter, and the next two digits indicate the order of the heading in the Chapter. Thus, heading 10.01 is the first heading of Chapter 10. In addition, most of the headings are subdivided into 1-dash subheadings. Where necessary, the subheadings are further subdivided into 2-dash subheadings identified by a 6-digit code (HS code). The HS comprises over 5,000 separate groups of goods identified by a 6-digit code. The first four digits correspond to the relevant heading number, while the fifth and sixth digits identify the one- and two-dash subheadings respectively. The absence of subheadings is indicated by a zero. For example: • HS code 0803.00 means the third heading of Chapter 8, which has not been subdivided. • HS code 0101.10 means the first heading of Chapter 1, first subheading which has not been further subdivided. • HS code 0303.11 means the third heading of Chapter 3, first two-dash subheading of the first one-dash subheading.

The official interpretation of the HS is given in the Explanatory Notes (5 volumes in English and French) published by the WCO. The text consists of explanations of the General Rules of Interpretation, Section Notes, and Chapters and Subheadings. It also provides detailed explanations on the scope of headings and subheadings, together with technical descriptions of the goods concerned and practical guidance for their classification and identification.

The Notes can be ordered now from the WCO bookstore. WCO 2012 HS Changes: FAQ

Ghana Trade portal is a resource provided by government to traders in order to obtain from one single source i.e. website, all information that importers or exporters in Ghana may require in order to comply with their regulatory obligations in relation to all government agencies that control export, import or transit business. Who can access the services through Ghana Trade Hub? The Shipping Agents, Freight Forwarders, Air Agents, Clearing Agents, Hauliers, Free Zone Companies, and the whole Trading communities. Is Ghana Trade Hub Available 24x7? Yes, Ghana Trade Hub is available 24x7 to serve your all needs. What is a Bill of Lading? Bill of Lading is a document issued by Shipping Agent to the Shipper which is further forwarded by Shipper to Consignee furnishing written evidence regarding receipt of the goods (cargo), the conditions on which transportation is made (contract of carriage), and the engagement to deliver goods at the prescribed port of destination to the lawful holder of the Bill of Lading.

The duty calculator has been provided to aid a trader to calculate the specific amount of duty, levy and taxes payable on an importation. It is simple and user friendly, but for further support on how it is used, you can make use of the live chat support services provided on the portal.

C.I.F is an acronym for Cost (F.O.B amount), Insurance and Freight. This is the amount used for calculation of duty in Ghana.

The Free On board (F.O.B) amount includes the cost of production of items and the cost of transportation to the port of loading for exportation.

The site map has been provided to help traders and other users navigate the Ghana trade hub with ease.

Controlling or Regulatory agencies are Ministries, Department and Agencies responsible for ensuring that traders comply with the regulations, laws and procedures required for import or export in Ghana. Examples of these are Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Click on the yellow “C” sign beside the item tariff code on the final page when using the classification tool to find out the agency responsible for controlling the item for importation.

When a product is prohibited for importation a red “P” sign appears on besides the tariff code of that item when classifying. Click on the red “P” sign beside the item tariff code on the final page when using the classification tool to find out the prohibition status of the item for importation.

A Customs Procedure Code (CPC) is used for both imports and exports to identify the nature of the movement of the goods. It is made up of three pairs of numbers and each pair identifies the applied procedure, the previous procedure (if applicable) and further classifies the nature of the movement

When importing the CPC describes the purpose of your shipment and informs Customs about the duty to be paid on the goods, whether it is to be: I. Taken as a deposit, to be repaid when goods are re-exported ii. Suspended completely because of a duty relief scheme iii. Brought to account straightaway For example are the goods coming in as samples, either to elicit orders or for you to inspect for its quality, finish etc., before giving the go-ahead for full importation of the product? Certain samples can get a relief on duty and VAT and there are CPCs to cover this.

HS stands for Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. The HS is the international standard for reporting goods to customs and other government agencies. It is a numeric language that is used by more than 180 countries worldwide, and almost 100% of international trade. The HS was created and is administered by the Brussels-based World Customs Organization (WCO).

HS codes are essentially the language of international trade. They are the numerical codes that describe "what" is being shipped to and from countries worldwide, and they form the basis upon which all modern customs management systems operate. The first 6 digits of the HS are used universally. Each country may then add to the original 6 to suit its own tariff and statistical needs, creating 8, 10, and sometimes 12 digit national codes.

HS classification is the process of assigning numerical HS codes to products for import or export.

Importers and exporters are legally required to declare their products to Customs by means of HS codes. HS classification determines a product's rate of duty, its import and export admissibility, and whether or not it should be physically examined. In some countries, importers are required to report HS codes to Customs before their products are loaded for export. In the United States, this mandatory advanced cargo reporting program is called "ISF", or "10+2" (an explanation of ISF / 10+2 is provided below).

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