Technical expertise of industrial products controlled by the customs administration









                  CUSTOMS EXPERTISES

       Imported industrial products and equipment



Service offer :  


The tariff classification of imported goods (also known as tariff species) corresponds to the subheading of the customs nomenclature determining the rate of customs duty applicable to them when they are declared at a customs office, as well as the manner in which they will be processed for statistical purposes.

In addition, the subheading of classification of a good in the harmonized system is requested, for security reasons, during the summary declaration of entry into the Customs Union.

In the case of industrial products which present difficulties in interpreting the nomenclature, the declarant may request:

  • either the administration to indicate the tariff classification of its goods by filing a request for binding tariff information (BTI);
  • either to a customs expert to provide him with a report justifying the tariff classification to be adopted, according to the general rules and the explanatory notes of the harmonized system, after having explained, in this report, the nature and characteristics of the goods concerned.

Private expertise, much faster than RTC, provides legal security before the declaration, or the declarant's defense in the event of litigation after the declaration.

It should be noted that in France, the customs administration has 11 laboratories spread over the entire national territory disputing thousands of customs declarations per year, which systematically leads to disputes, the risks of which are the confiscation of the goods, a fine and a reminder of customs duties over three years.


  Customs import regulations



At the international level, all commodities are classified in sections, chapters, 4-digit positions and 6-digit subheadings in the World Customs Organization nomenclature known as the Harmonized System of Coding and Description of Goods,which includes explanatory notes. and are subject to classification advice. In the case of the European Union, goods are classified, from this "Harmonized System" , in the Combined Nomenclature using 8-digit headings, and in the Integrated Community Tariff (TARIC) by subheadings to 10 digits.


The Harmonized System (HS)

The nomenclature of the Harmonized Commodity Coding System is given sections, chapters, headings et subheadings . It includes preliminary provisions, additional section or chapter notes and subheading notes. It is supplemented by explanatory notes and classification opinions. The nomenclature of the Harmonized System can be found on the website of the World Customs Organization (WCO):


Combined Nomenclature (CN)

The combined nomenclature of the Common Customs Tariff makes it possible to designate goods and goods in such a way as to satisfy at the same time the statistical requirements of Community external trade and the Common Customs Tariff. It also includes preliminary provisions, additional section or chapter notes and subheading notes. Each subheading of the CN has an eight-digit code, called the CN Code with a label. This nomenclature is supplemented by Explanatory Notes .


The integrated Community tariff (TARIC)

TARIC, the multilingual online tariff database, contains all the measures related to the tariff, trade and agricultural legislation of the Community. By integrating and coding these measures, TARIC ensures their uniform application by all Member States and gives all economic operators a clear vision of the measures to be taken when importing or exporting goods. TARIC also collects statistics on these measures at Community level.


The entry summary declaration (ENS)

Since January 1, 2011, the import entry summary declarations provided for by the Import Control System (ICS) have been compulsory in application of the (modernized) Community Customs Code published by Parliament Regulation 450/2008 and of the Council of 23 April 2008. This information is communicated to the point of entry into the European Union by computer by means of a message called ENS. The objective is to ensure a safety and security check on imports.

These provisions follow the SAFE standard of the World Customs Organization (WCO) which recommends electronic transmission of data, widespread use of risk analysis by customs services, safety and security checks in the country of export and the establishment of a partnership with operators concerning legitimate trade (AEO status):

  • security concerns weapons, explosives, dual-use goods, biological, radiological, nuclear products, or any material that can be used for terrorist or criminal purposes;
  • safety concerns goods likely to harm health (human or animal), trade (counterfeits), or the environment.

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

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

The modalities of implementation of the ICS system were specified by circular of November 10, 2010 published in the official customs bulletin n ° 6878. This text invites operators to communicate, ie the four-digit code of the position of the harmonized codification system and description of the goods (HS4), ie the digit code of the subheading (HS6) which better specifies the nature of the goods.

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

A laconic or not very explicit description of a commodity, or even a contradiction with the tariff classification indicated in the declaration, will raise concerns about the presence of a “high-risk” commodity and will give rise to a control by customs during the declaration. : documentary control, physical visit, sampling (or documentation) for an expertise; which will delay the issuance of the voucher for collection by several days.


  Control of goods in France



Control of customs declarations

Customs offices have the power to carry out checks on the species, the origin, the value of a commodity as soon as a declaration has been validated, conditioning the delivery of the good to be removed (ex-control). ante), and then for 4 months from the date of declaration (ex-post 1st level checks). The Regional Directorates (Regional Investigation Services) and the National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs Investigations (DNRED) go back in time up to three years (ex-post 2nd level controls). False declaration is an offense considered a contravention by Article 412 of the Customs Code; it constitutes a customs offense punishable under Article 414 of the Customs Code where it has the aim or the effect of evading a prohibition measure.


The expertise of customs laboratories

The customs administration is assisted on the scientific level by a service shared by the two ministries of finance, under the dual supervision of the Directorate General of Customs and Indirect Taxation (DGDDI) and the Directorate-General for Consumer Affairs and Trade. repression of fraud (DGCCRF). This service with national competence, called the common laboratory service (SCL) , performs physico-chemical analyzes of samples of goods; as well as expertise on files for the application of the European regulations, or the application of the customs code or the code of consumption at the request of its two directorates-general of tutelage (DGDDI and DGCCRF), or their external services.


In the event of dispute over the tariff nature of a commodity, either during a check or during a home visit , the customs administration shall take samples for analysis by the common service laboratories or the examination by any other expert of his choice. Where goods, by reason of their weight, size, value, nature or the small quantity of produce, can not, without inconvenience, be sampled in four samples, four copies of plans, drawings, photographs or any other document identifying the controlled goods. The customs administration may further assert its right of communication of all documents relating to transactions carried out in non-prescribed periods in order to examine the goods concerned.


In practice, the laboratories of the SCL are entered at the initiative of customs officers as part of their duties by sending samples or documents constitute "analysis requests", mainly for verification of price of a commodity, or for the identification of narcotics and other illicit They are very rarely invited to rule in counterfeit cases because the expertise of the disputed objects belongs primarily to the holder of the mark, the model or the patent. On the other hand, they are systematically consulted when the trade in counterfeits constitutes a significant loss of income for the State in the field of indirect taxation, as for example in the case of falsifications of cigarettes, vine products (chaptalisation, fake origins ...), petroleum products (additions of vegetable oil in diesel fuel, discoloration of fuel oil ...).


The action of the SCL is presented in detail in the documents called 2015 Activity Report and 2016 Activity Summary Report . According to this official information, the rates of non-compliance on goods picked up by Customs (excluding prohibited products) were: 24.5% in 2012; 27.7% in 2013; 31.8% in 2014; 29.1% in 2015; 32.5 in 2016. Each year, this represents approximately 5000 declarations recognized as non-compliant by the SCL laboratories, mainly false claims of tariff species, giving rise to litigation.


SCL's laboratories are part of the Customs Laboratories European Network (CLEN), a European network of customs laboratories (formerly the European Customs Laboratories Group created in 199). CLEN is the structure that coordinates at European level the 80 customs laboratories consulted by the customs administrations of the 23 Member States of the European Union. This European body has programmed six coordination actions: database of methods, validation of methods, quality, documentation and strategy, scientific expertise, inventory of products. The working group " Action 2 - Inter-comparisons and method validations" is led by French laboratories (SCL). Action 5 relating to scientific expertise, created in 2009, aims essentially to develop the competence of European customs laboratories in the identification of tobacco and animal and plant species by biological means (DNA analysis in particular).


Remedies against a customs dispute

Recourse to the Conciliation and Customs Expertise Commission (CCED) in the event of a dispute over the tariff type, origin and value, was deleted by Article 88 of the Law of 29 December 2016.

If the declarant considers that he is right at the moment of the immediate control (or "ex-post" control by the investigative services), he may refuse the statement of offense, or send a statement in defense to the regional directorate concerned in response to his registered mail stating that he intends to give a contentious result to the offense and giving him a period of 30 days to present his defense.


Lastly, he has three years to appeal to the courts if the customs authorities send him a notice of assessment (AMR) of the duties and taxes payable for the three years prior to the statement of offense.


 Albert Castel's service offer



A business support service is offered by Albert Castel, former director of SCL laboratory and independent consultant for ten years, not only in the case of imports in France, but also in all the countries of the European Union, because they have the same nomenclature (Combined Nomenclature of the Common Customs Tariff).

This service is also offered to companies in other countries because the classification rules tariff are common to all countries adhering to the Harmonized System Convention. In this case, Albert Castel's expert report justifies and indicates not only the sub-position of the harmonized system (6-digit code), but also the national subheading of the country concerned (8-digit code digits or more), which it finds in the Commission's market access database European. This expert is thus able to indicate the tariff classification specific to each country (Canada, India, Japan, etc.) for a commodity after having endeavored to describe the nature and use of the commodity concerned from the technical documentation from the importer, scientific publications, and patent databases.



Page updated in September 2020



© Albert Castel April 2010 - All rights reserved