Technical expertise of industrial products controlled by the customs administration










Tariff classification

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The Technidouanes expert indicates and justifies in a detailed technical report the tariff classification of goods that a company will have to declare to customs; or that a company has declared in the preceding three years, either to obtain reimbursement of customs duty in the event of a declaration error unfavorable to the company, or to ensure its defense in the event of litigation following a customs inspection a posteriori .

The tariff classification of imported goods (also called tariff species) corresponds to the subheading of the customs nomenclature determining the rate of customs duty applicable to them when they are declared to a customs office, as well as the manner in which they will be processed for statistical purposes. In the case of industrial products which present difficulties in interpreting the nomenclature, technical expertise is often necessary to determine their exact nature and their function and obtain a reasoned opinion on their classification.

In France, the customs administration has 11 laboratories spread across the national territory contesting around 5,000 customs declarations per year, which systematically leads to disputes with risks of confiscation of the goods, a fine and a reminder of duties. customs clearance over three years.


   The tariff type



Internationally, all goods are classified by sections, chapters, 4-digit headings and 6-digit subheadings in the World Customs Organization nomenclature called the Harmonized Commodity Coding and Description System, which has explanatory notes and are subject to classification notices. In the case of the European Union, goods are classified, from this "Harmonized System" , in the Combined Nomenclature by means of 8-digit positions, and in the Community Integrated Tariff (TARIC) by subheadings at 10 digits.

Imported and exported goods must be declared with an indication of the subheading of the nomenclature to which they fall. This tariff classification, also called tariff species, determines the customs duty rate applicable to them as well as the way in which they will be treated for statistical purposes.


The harmonized system (HS)

The Harmonized System Nomenclature Coding and description of goods is divided into sections, chapters, headings and subheadings. It includes provisions preliminaries, additional section or chapter notes, and notes subheadings. It is supplemented by explanatory notes and classification notices. The bill of materials of the Harmonized System can be consulted on the World Customs Organization (WCO) website:


The Combined Nomenclature (CN)

The bill of materials Combined fare The common customs system allows goods and merchandise to be designated in such a way as to meet both the statistical requirements of foreign trade and and the Common Customs Tariff. It also includes provisions preliminaries, additional section or chapter notes, and notes subheadings. Each subheading of the CN has an eight-point code digits, called Code NC with a label. This nomenclature is supplemented by explanatory notes.


The Community Integrated Tariff (TARIC)

TARIC, a multilingual database of customs tariffs accessible in contains all measures related to tariff, commercial and commercial legislation and agriculture of the Community. By integrating and coding these measures, TARIC ensures their uniform application by all Member States and provides all economic operators a clear vision of the measures to be taken in the future. the import or export of goods. TARIC also makes it possible to To collect statistics on these measures at Community level.



The ICS system



Since January 1, 2011, import entry summary declarations under Import Control System (ICS) are mandatory under the Customs Code Community (modernised) published by Regulation No 450/2008 of the European Parliament and of the European Parliament. Council of 23 April 2008. This information is provided in section entry into the European Union by electronic means by means of a message called ENS. The aim is to ensure that A safety and security check on imports.

These provisions follow the World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE standard, which recommends electronic transmission of data, widespread use of risk by customs services, safety and security checks to the country of export and the establishment of a partnership with Operators Regarding Legitimate Trade (Statute OEA):

  • Security concerns weapons, explosives, dual-use items, products and biological, radiological, nuclear, or any other material can be used for terrorist or criminal purposes;
  • Safety refers to goods that may be harmful to health (human or animal), trade (counterfeits), or the environment.

The SAFE standard provides for Dozens of pieces of information to be included in declarations entry and exit, two of which will allow the customs to identify the goods, namely:

  • the "code specifying a type of goods for customs purposes, transport, statistics or other official purposes(general term) » ;
  • The "description of nature in simple terms" of a good, sufficient to identify it for purposes of customs, transport, or statistics".

The modalities for the implementation of the ICS system have been specified by circular of 10 November 2010 published in the Official Customs Bulletin No. 6878. This text invites operators to the four-digit code of the Position of the Harmonized Codification System and designation (HS4), which is the digit code of the subheading (HS6) which better clarifies the nature of the goods.

The mention the six-digit HS code (HS6) in messages ICS and ECS have become mandatory since the implementation of the implementation of the Union Customs Code in 2016.

A laconic or unclear description of a commodity, or a contradiction with the classification indicated in the declaration, will raise concerns about the presence of a "high-risk" goods and will be subject to control by customs At the time of the declaration: documentary check, physical visit, sampling samples (or documentation) for the purpose of an expert opinion; which will delay by several days before the voucher to be collected.



The control Goods



Offices have the power to carry out checks on the species, origin, the value of a good from the moment a declaration is made. has been validated, a condition for the issuance of of the voucher to be removed (ex-ante controls), and then during 4 months from the date of declaration (checks ex-post 1st level). Regional Directorates (Services Regional Investigative Directorate) and the National Intelligence Directorate and customs investigations (DNRED) go back up over time up to three years (ex-post controls) 2nd level). Misrepresentation is an offence that is considered a contravention Article 412 of the Customs Code; It constitutes a customs offence punishable under Article 414 of the Customs Code if it is the purpose or effect of circumventing a prohibition.

The species Pricing can be determined by expert appraisal technique. On the other hand, origin and value are difficult to prove by analysis given the complexity of both of these criteria. As counterfeits, their presence is ascertained by experts requested by customs officers and confirmed by the rights owners who requested the intervention customs authorities, during checks at imports, exports, or traffic.

Administration The Customs Department is being scientifically assisted by A service common to both Ministries of Finance, under the dual supervision of the Ministry of Finance of the Directorate General of Customs and Indirect Taxes and the Directorate-General for Consumer Affairs and fraud prevention. This competent service known as the Common Laboratory Service (SCL), performs physico-chemical analyses of samples goods; as well as expert appraisals on files with a view to the application of European regulations, or the application of Customs Codes or Consumer Code on Demand of its two supervising directorates-general (DGDDI and DGCCRF), or their external services.

In the event of dispute as to the kind, origin or value of a commodity, either during an inspection or during a visit The customs administration carries out a a direct debit samples for analysis by the joint laboratory service or examination by any other expert of his choice. When a commodity, by reason of its weight, its dimensions, its value, of its nature or of the too small quantity of product, cannot, without disadvantage of having four samples, four copies of plans, drawings, photographs or any other documents to identify the controlled goods. Administration In addition, the Customs Authority may assert its right to disclosure of all documents relating to the operations completed in non-prescribed periods for the purpose of expert appraisals of the goods concerned.

In practice, SCL laboratories are seized on the initiative customs officers in the performance of their duties and functions by sending samples or documents constituting "Requests for analysis", mainly for verification of the species for the purpose of determining the price of a commodity, or for the identification of narcotics and other illicit products. They are rarely invited to express their views in counterfeiting cases because the expertise of the disputed objects belongs to the in priority to the owner of the make, model or patent. On the other hand, they are systematically consulted when the Trade in counterfeits constitutes a significant loss of revenue for the State in the indirect taxation, such as e.g. in cases of falsifications cigarettes, vine products (chaptalization, fakes, etc.) origins, etc.), petroleum products (vegetable oil additions, etc.) in diesel fuel, discolouration of fuel oil, etc.).

The recourse to the Conciliation and Expertise Commission (CCED) in the event of a dispute on the case origin and value, has been abolished by Article 88 of the Law of 29 December 2016. If the notifier believes he or she is correct at the at the time of the inspection, it must be registered as a against the statement of offence. It has a time limit thirty days to defend against management regional authority concerned if that authority sends them a registered letter informing them of that it intends to pursue litigation in the case of the offence. Finally, he has a period of three years to refer the matter to the courts if the administration Customs Department sends a notice of assessment to the Minister (AMR) of duties and taxes payable from the three years prior to the offence offence.

The group of European customs laboratories, created in 1999, CLEN (formerly the GCL, European Group of Customs Laboratories) is the structure which coordinates at the European level the Customs laboratories of the Member States and called the European network of laboratories brings together the 80 laboratories consulted by the customs administrations of the 23 member states of the European Union. CLEN has scheduled six coordination actions: method database, method validation, quality, documentation and strategy, scientific expertise, product inventory. The “ Action 2Inter-comparisons and method validations” working group is led by the French laboratories (SCL). Action 5 relating to scientific expertise, created in 2009, essentially aims to develop the skills of European customs laboratories in the identification of tobacco and animal and plant species by biological means (particularly DNA analysis).




© Albert Castel - April 2010 

Page updated March 2024