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Tariff Classification

ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN)

Members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vietnam, use the AHTN to classify goods imported from other ASEAN countries. The AHTN is based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.


The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS), used by over 200 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 4-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 8- 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 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: Please note that this information is subject to change. Importers and exporters are advised to obtain the most current information from a customs broker or freight forwarder or from the local customs authorities, listed at the top of the Contacts page.

Primary researchers: Jennifer Goheen and Nina Bellucci
World Trade Press