ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN)
Members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vietnam, use the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) to classify goods imported from other ASEAN countries. The AHTN is based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.
Harmonized System (HS)
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS), used by more than 180 countries, is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying traded products and is maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO). The code describes the type of the product, thereby easing the process of calculating its applicable taxes. The basic HS code consists of six digits: a four-digit heading plus two additional digits to form the subheading. Sub-subheadings (eight digits) provide greater specificity for many items; the maximum specificity is encoded in 10 digits. Individual countries can elect to use an eight- or 10-digit HS number for their customs purposes.
This code is the key by which duty rate is applied; it also indicates whether an import license or permit is required for a commodity. Therefore, it is important that the importer knows and uses the correct commodity code for the goods planned for import. To obtain the product code, the importer can contact the customs authority or other relevant authorities in the home country, or a forwarding agency.
Most Favored Nation (MFN) Tariff
The Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate applies to imports from all countries that use the HS and are not party to Free Trade Agreements (see Preferential Tariff System below). The customs duty tariff and the import/export requirements for the product are dependent on the HS code of the imported goods.
Preferential Tariff System
Countries that are party to preferential agreements with Vietnam benefit from tariff reductions. Examples of preferential agreements are the UN's Generalized System for Preferences (GSP), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area, and different trade agreements between Vietnam and other countries. See Trade Agreements for further information.
To make use of a lower duty rate, the Certificate of Origin is used to document conformity to the rules of origin.
Note: The above information is subject to change. Importers are advised to obtain the most current information from a customs broker, freight forwarder, or the local customs authorities.
Article written for World Trade Press by Taylor Holloran, Jennifer Goheen, and Nina Bellucci.
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