If you sell goods to international customers, you know how smooth exports are vital to delight them. But did you know that your product description plays a significant role in achieving that?
A product description is not just a vague explanation of what your product is. It is key information for customs officials to determine duties and taxes, and if your goods meet regulations. It also helps you find the correct HS code for your product, which is a vital element to successful exports. Read on to learn how to write accurate product descriptions!
What is a product description for export?
It is important to understand in the first place that there are two different types of product descriptions: one for your customers and one for customs when shipping your products internationally. The product description that your customers see is all about showcasing the features and benefits of your product to potential customers, to trigger purchases.
But when shipping your products internationally, you need to provide a different product description for customs. It should include detailed information about your product’s specifications, components, and materials to help customs officials verify that your product meets all the necessary requirements. Having a clear and accurate product description also helps you assign the right HS codes for your goods.
Why are product descriptions so important?
When you are importing goods into a country, customs officials need to know exactly what you are bringing in. The product description, along with the HS code help them determine how much duty and tax you need to pay, check if your goods meet trade regulations, and make sure that everything is safe and legal.
If your description is incorrect or incomplete, it can, therefore, lead to frustrating and costly delays in customs clearance. In fact, inaccurate descriptions on the commercial invoice are one of the main reasons for shipments being held or delayed by customs authorities.
With the new ICS2 requirements that came into effect from March 1, 2023, it is more important than ever to provide accurate product descriptions. All goods shipped to or through the EU by air must come with a complete set of data, including HS codes on all customs forms, and vague item descriptions are no longer accepted.
What should I include in my descriptions?
For a clear and accurate product description, it is essential to provide as many details as possible about the material and intended function of the item. In general, your description should answer these key questions:
- What is the item made of?
- How was it made?
- What was it made for?
In apparel or footwear, it is important to add gender to the description, such as “men’s knitted sweater”. You should also specify if the item is for a baby, as it can affect the taxes you need to pay. For example, in the UK, clothing and shoes for babies are charged at zero-rate VAT.
Laura Breede, HS codes expert at Eurora, gives advice to write accurate descriptions: “Imagine yourself shopping. When you go to the store, you don’t put apparel or clothing in your shopping cart, it is something more specific – like a pair of socks for your kid. Keeping in mind what you would really buy can help you write more accurate descriptions on your documentation.”
How do product descriptions help me get correct HS codes?
Having an accurate description of your product including the elements we previously detailed is key to finding the correct HS code. This is because a same item can have a completely different code depending on what it is made of. For example, if you are exporting a jacket made of synthetic material, the HS code would be different from that of a jacket made of natural materials like cotton.
However, even with a perfect product description, it can still be difficult to determine the appropriate HS code because nomenclatures are regularly revised, new codes appear, and some get outdated. Countries can even make changes once a month if necessary. A safer way to match the correct HS code based on your product descriptions is to use Eurora’s HS code allocation service, that is easy to set up with a simple API integration.
Eurora’s science-backed AI engine makes sure that all the goods and parcels you ship are assigned the correct HS code automatically and quickly, reducing delays and operational costs. Our database is constantly updated with the latest changes, and our engine can process up to 5,000 requests in less than 100 milliseconds with 98% accuracy.