What is a Schedule B Number? (And How Do I Find One?)

November 12, 2021
 By Natalie Kienzle
What is a Schedule B Number? (And How Do I Find One?)
Last Modified: February 21, 2023
Building a successful export business is a numbers game. Besides cost and quantities, you should know about the number identification system used for all exported goods and how it can impact your export practices.
Number or Code?   |   Uses   |   Where They Apply   |   Find Your Number   |   Understand Your Number   |   Schedule B vs HTS Code   |   Use in Imports   |   Wrong Use Consequences   |   Our Services

What is a schedule B number? The import/export business of the U.S. is a complex, trillion-dollar industry with a global impact. To keep track of goods leaving the United States, Schedule B numbers are used as part of the export process. It’s important to understand when to use a Schedule B number, where to find them, and more. 

A Schedule B number, or Schedule B code, is a 10-digit export code assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division to classify all exported products. As part of the international Harmonized System organizing imports and exports into general categories, Schedule B numbers further specify each product.

The following guide will help explain the importance of these codes and how they are used in international trade.

what is a schedule b number to an warehouse filled with palletized boxes

What is a Schedule B Number? Or is it a Code?

A Schedule B number is an export code assigned by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division to classify all exported physical products. The code provides a way for companies to find the import nation’s specific product number, thereby determining duty rate. 

All codes are part of the international Harmonized System (HS). This system is used to organize imports and exports into general categories recognized worldwide. 

Each nation has its own way of further defining products beyond those general categories. In the United States, we use Schedule B numbers. Because it still needs to work within the Harmonized System, the first six digits of a Schedule B number will match the product’s internationally recognized HS number.

What are Schedule B Numbers Used For?

Schedule B numbers are used for further product classification within the general category assigned by the HS number when shipping to a foreign country. 

You should know a product’s Schedule B and HS codes to:

  • Determine which tariff rates (duty rates) may apply to the product or whether the product qualifies for any preferential tariff under the Free Trade Agreement
  • Check for possible restrictions through the U.S. Export Administration 
  • Complete shipping documents such as the Shipper’s Export Declaration, letter of instructions, commercial invoices, and Certificates of Origin
  • File Electronic Export Information (EEI) within the Automated Export System (AES) when the value of the product is greater than $2,500 or requires a license. 

Considering the variety of tasks Schedule B codes are used for, it’s safe to say that they play a vital role in the export process. Therefore, if you plan to be involved in international trade, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of Schedule B.

Exporting requires staying up to date on all current rules and regulations. Learn more in our article about Export Control Basics.

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Are Schedule B Numbers Universal?

The short answer is no, Schedule B numbers are not universal. Schedule B is unique to the U.S. and does not necessarily match codes used by foreign nations. For the successful export of a product, you need to have both the Schedule B number and the foreign product code of its destination. The foreign code is needed to determine tariff classification at the port of entry and generally makes international trade a much smoother process. 

A product’s HS code, the first six digits of Schedule B, is generally accepted internationally as part of the classification system overseen by the World Customs Organization (WCO). When this is not the case, a product’s HS code from another country can be found through foreign tariff databases such as the Customs Info Database.

More information is available in the article, "Schedule B vs HS Code: Perfect Your Export Numbers".

How Do I Find My Schedule B Number?

A product’s Schedule B number can be found using the Schedule B Search engine. The search engine is made available to you free of charge by the U.S. Census Bureau. Schedule B numbers can be looked up based on product description. The more specific the description, the easier it will be to find the correct Schedule B.

Steps To Find A Schedule B Number

1. Describe the productBicycle
2. Add detailsBicycle; self-propelled; not stationary
3. Review provided resultsBicycles and other cycles (including delivery tricycles), not motorized.
4. Record Schedule B Number87.12

Realize that codes themselves will vary depending on any unique product characteristics. It is also important to realize that some codes DO NOT apply to a product’s usage, but rather to what the product itself is made from. 

For instance, the Schedule B number for a standard bike with no motorization is 87.12, but if you specify a bike with wheels larger than 25 inches, it becomes 8712.00.2600.

In short, greater product classification = more numbers.

For difficult-to-classify products, the Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS) is available. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) rules on which products can or cannot enter and leave the United States. CROSS keeps up-to-date records of such rulings so that if you are unsure of whether your product can be exported or not, it can not only determine the legality but also find the Schedule B code that would classify it. 

If you know the Schedule B for your product, but need to find the code for one related to it, the numerical part of the code can be used to search instead of starting over with the description process. The decimals within the code should be taken out for the search. Any products related to that Schedule B will then be shown.

In case further help is needed, exporters can contact a: 

  • Commodity specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division
  • Licensed Customs Broker
  • Certified Export Consultant
  • Freight Forwarder
  • Local U.S. commercial service office

Our team has the knowledge and experience needed to help you locate the correct Schedule B number for your products.

visual breakdown of  10 digit number with categories labeled above each set of digits

How Do I Read a Schedule B Number?

To read a Schedule B, you need to know how the digits are grouped together and what they represent. Schedule B numbers are 10 digits or less. The first six digits are the HS code. Codes are typically written out with a decimal point following the fourth and sixth digits, i.e. 1234.56.7890. The numbers match up to the organization system of the U.S. Census Bureau, which goes by chapters and sections, with sections having headings and sometimes subheadings.

Numbers are organized according to the following pattern: 

  • Chapter: first two digits; ie. 12
  • Headings: Initial two digits combined with the next two, read as a four-digit group; ie. 12.34
  • Subheading: Four-digit group + additional two digits to create 6-digit grouping; ie. 1234.56
  • Country-specific information: identifies additional information for tariff rates and commodity codes. Four additional digits added to the initial 6-digit grouping create a 10-digit code; ie. 1234.56.7890

Having an understanding of what each part of the Schedule B number represents may help you avoid misclassifications and assist in determining when further descriptions are necessary.

What’s the Difference Between a Schedule B Number and an HTS Code?

Put simply, a Schedule B number is for exports while an HTS Code (Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code) is for imports. 

Exported products are overseen by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. Imports are overseen by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). The WCO which oversees the HS serves as the basis for both classification systems. This creates a similarity between import and export classification systems; however, it does not make them interchangeable. 

There are more HTS codes than Schedule B numbers due to the fact that the United States imports a greater diversity of products than what it exports. Both are 10-digit codes and the first six digits typically match because they are HS codes based on the Harmonized System. The last numbers of each code are what will differ. 

close up of binders labeled as policies and procedures

Can I Use a Schedule B Code for Imports?

No, Schedule B is for use with exports only. Imports are required to use an HTS Code. Despite the fact that both are 10 digits and are likely to share the first six digits, Schedule B numbers cannot be used in place of an HTS code. However, an HTS code can be used in place of a Schedule B. 

Schedule B descriptions are not as detailed as HTS descriptions for similar products. Someone looking to export footwear, for example, does not need to search for a different Schedule B number for men’s footwear versus women’s footwear. An HTS code has this distinction along with others such as the price of the item, type of footwear, purpose, and even thickness of material used.

The complexity of an HTS code compared to a Schedule B number is what allows it to be used for export as well as import.

What Happens If I Use the Wrong Schedule B Number?

Using the wrong Schedule B code will likely result in penalty fines when your product arrives at its destination because they are primarily used to determine the duty rates you may need to pay. 

Should the wrong code be used, the tariff classification of the product will be different. Regardless of what you may initially pay, when the mistake is found by customs authorities, there will be additional monetary fines and penalties imposed. It may also increase the chances of your products getting stranded at port and creating delays likely to further impact your bottom line. 

Successful Exporters Choose
Cargo Export USA
Contact Us Today!

Get Help Finding Your Schedule B Number with Cargo Export USA

With so much depending on the accuracy of paperwork for exports, allow Cargo Export USA to make sure that you have the correct Schedule B number for all of your products. Our consulting services can take away the guesswork and ensure a painless process from port to port. 

Additionally, we offer a full suite of other services to help you arrange your shipment out of the country and to where it needs to be, including:

  • Product Classification
  • Export Licensing
  • Obtaining a Certificate of Origin
  • AES Filing
  • Export Screening

Have peace of mind for all your shipping needs by reaching out to Cargo Export USA today. Get answers to your exporting questions by calling us at (866)-301-0635 and see how you can benefit from working with our certified export consultants.

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