Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ITC’s New HTS Online Reference Tool


The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today released its new HTS Online Reference Tool, a comprehensive website for users of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS).

The ITC is mandated by Congress to maintain the HTS, which provides the tariff rates and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the United States. The tariff schedule is a vital tool for importers, customs brokers, carriers, the government, and the public.

The new HTS Online Reference Tool provides a web-based source for HTS-related information and offers current, accurate, and user-friendly electronic access to the 3,000-page HTS.

The HTS Online Reference Tool features direct links to:

• classification rulings by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) users will be able to jump directly from a specific HTS item to the Customs Ruling Online Search System (CROSS) for determinations on product classification for that HTS item, and users will be able to access the most current ruling for any product;

• HTS Chapter 99, enabling users to move from an HTS item in chapters 1-97 to the temporary, seasonal, or special situation tariff that applies for that item as listed in chapter 99; and

• footnotes, allowing users to move from the footnote number in the text directly to the footnote itself. In addition, users can now search the HTS by word, word combinations, or HTS number, and they can use common terminology to do so. The HTS Online Reference Tool includes an expanding thesaurus that will help users search the HTS and locate an item even if they don’t know the precise classification language used in the document. For example, users will be able to search the word “cars,” which does not exist in the HTS, and be directed automatically to the HTS provisions covering “motor vehicles.” The thesaurus is in its early stages and will be enriched continually to reflect common terminology if a user searches on a term that is not currently included, that term will be added to the thesaurus. Over time, this regular updating will result in a rich, complex search engine that will make the HTS Online Reference Tool even more user-friendly.

“We’re excited to bring this comprehensive HTS tool to the trade community and the public,” said ITC Chairman Shara L. Aranoff. “The HTS Online Reference tool has been well-received by our colleagues at Customs as well as customs brokers and other users who have seen it demonstrated. It meets a long-standing need for easier, electronic access to the HTS, and we look forward to user review and input to keep it as useful and up-to-date as possible.”

Built by the ITC, the system is still evolving. Future enhancements include electronic access to the complete legal text and notes of the HTS and the ability for the ITC and CBP to convert the HTS to formats necessary for computerized operations at the borders and elsewhere.

The ITC’s HTS Online Reference Tool can be found at