Commodity Classification Branch

H.S code -The “Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System” (known as the Harmonized System or the HS) is one of the most successful instruments developed by the World Customs Organization. It is a multipurpose goods nomenclature used by more than 200 countries as the basis for Customs tariffs and for the compilation of international trade statistics. The HS is a unique way of identifying and coding merchandise/commodities in order to facilitate international trade and Customs regulations and applications. The HS is also used for many other purposes such as trade policy, rules of origin, monitoring of controlled goods, internal taxes, freight tariffs, transport statistics, quota controls, and economic research analysis.

Schedule A – Schedule A of the Customs Ordinance being the “table of duties” is comprised of a list of commodities and groups of commodities, and rates of duties prescribed for each commodity or group of commodities. The said list of Commodities is in accordance with the HS, established by international convention, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory. The classification of the commodities in the nomenclature (determination of the appropriate HS code) shall be governed by the principle set out in the General rules for the interpretation of the Harmonized System (Please visit the next tab).

Internal Classification Advice – Commodity Classification Branch determines the appropriate HS codes for commodities Imported to or Exported from Sri Lanka. And they provide assistance to the Customs staff at various points in deciding the appropriate classification of commodities in the Table of Duties by applying the governing principles of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

External Classification Advice – As a measure of facilitation to the trade, the Commodity Classification Branch issues Advance Classification Ruling for the commodities to be imported or exported. Importers/Exporters who desire to have the H.S code of any commodity that they intend to Import/Export, could make an application and obtain ruling from the Commodity Classification Division.


General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System

Classification of goods in the Nomenclature shall be governed by the following principles:

  1. The titles of Sections, Chapters and sub-Chapters are provided for ease of reference only; for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes and, provided such headings or Notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions:
    • (a) – Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also be taken to include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this Rule), presented unassembled or disassembled.
    • (b) – Any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or substance with other materials or substances. Any reference to goods of a given material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to goods consisting wholly or partly of such material or substance. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3.
  2. When by application of Rule 2 (b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:
    • (a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials of substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.
    • (b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3 (a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.
    • (c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3 (a) or 3 (b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.
  3. Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with the above Rules shall be classified under the heading appropriate to the goods to which they are most akin.
  4. In addition to the foregoing provisions, the following Rules shall apply in respect of the goods referred to therein :
    • (a) Camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long-term use and presented with the articles for which they are intended, shall be classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith. This Rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its essential character;
    • (b) Subject to the provisions of Rule 5 (a) above, packing materials and packing containers presented with the goods therein shall be classified with the goods if they are of a kind normally used for packing such goods. However, this provision is not binding when such packing materials or packing containers are clearly suitable for repetitive use.
  5. For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related Subheading Notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above Rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this Rule the relative Section and Chapter Notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.


WordPress Responsive Table

The purpose of publishing the rulings are for reference and guidance only.


This ruling is valid for the above described specific product, based on the documents and information provided. The validity of this ruling may change mainly due to the following reasons. 

  • A revision to the tariff.
  • Product specification changes (Ex: Character, goods usage,different technical specifications etc.,)
  • A revision by an appellate authority such as NC Committee & World Customs Organization 


Download (MS Word) Application for Advance Classification Ruling 

Instructions for Filling up the Application for Advance Classification Ruling 

Advance Classification Ruling, Gazette Notification No. 2373/26 dated 28.02.2024 

Contacts – Commodity Classification Branch

011-2221320 – Director of Customs (Specialized Services)
011-2221323 – Deputy Director of Customs
011-2221324 / 1334 – Superintendent of Customs
011-2221322 – Officer In charge of Commodity Classification