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How to Find Your Schedule B Number Revisited

Tue May 19 2020
Written By: NOEL ISOM-HORNER, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU’S ECONOMIC INDICATORS DIVISION, MICRO ANALYSIS BRANCH
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What are Schedule B numbers, and how can you find the right one for your export? Schedule B numbers are 10-digit classification codes that exporters use to classify their products and keep track of U.S. export data at USA Trade® Online

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You may have come across our blog from December 2017 that provides general directions on how to use the U.S. Census Bureau’s Schedule B search engine to find the right Schedule B number for your export. In this blog, we provide a refresher course and additional tips to make the task even easier.

The first step: Visit <census.gov/scheduleb> to access the Census Bureau Schedule B search engine and browse the entire Schedule B. (You can also identify obsolete Schedule B numbers.)

To use the search engine, click on the “Search” link:
 

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Once directed to the search engine, it will prompt you to enter your product description in the search bar. If you hover your cursor over the “i” icon beside “DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT,” you will see other tips to help with your search:
 

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As the pop-up window says, you can search for your Schedule B number using descriptive words (like “frozen”), a complete or partial Harmonized System (HS) code (such as the first four or six digits of your classification code, if you know them), or a Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number if you are exporting a chemical substance. The search engine also recognizes some brand names. In the past, you may have searched for generic terms like “cell phone” instead of specific brands or model names. The good news: The “intelligent” search engine has learned from numerous previous searches, so you can now search for many popular brand-based products. Of course, it is not familiar with all brands — at least not yet. If it does not know your product by brand name, it will ask guiding questions or you may need to start again using keywords.

For example, let’s say we’re exporting chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans. We can type “coffee” in the search bar. The search engine will then ask for more info to pin down the best Schedule B number based on the General Rules of Interpretation or GRIs. 
 

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Here, the search engine asks a general question about our item: Is it coffee beans or a different kind of coffee product? In this example, we click on “coffee beans.”

Next, it asks about the “state” of our coffee beans: “roasted” or “unroasted.”
 

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We select “roasted” The search engine then asks the “type” of roasted coffee beans. That is, caffeinated — or not?   
 

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Our product contains caffeine, so we select “not decaffeinated.”
 

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Now, the search engine directs us to a complete, 10-digit Schedule B number. We check to make sure the four-digit heading description covers our product.

We discover it does except for one thing — the chocolate coating. Is that close enough? In a word — no.

This is not a flaw in the system but highlights how important it is to review each step of a search, especially the “assumed” and “known” characteristics.

By default, “assumed Characteristics” are collapsed. We expand this section to see all of the characteristics the search engine “assumed” about our product. 
 

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We discover the search engine correctly assumed our product was “other” than a mixture. However, it incorrectly assumed it was not chocolate-covered.

How can we correct this?

Simple. Just choose the right characteristics from the drop-down menu. In this case, we select “coated with chocolate or mixed with cocoa.”
 

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After we make our adjustments, the search engine directs us to a completely different area of Schedule B: Chapter 18 for Cocoa and Cocoa Preparations. It selects a new Schedule B number. We check the four-digit heading and six-digit subheading to confirm it’s the best fit for our product. 
 

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We follow the heading and subheading provided and find the best way to classify our product under HS subheading 1806.90. We can see our 10-digit Schedule B number by expanding this section. To expand, click on the + inside the box next to the accurate subheading.
 

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The best Schedule B number for our chocolate-covered coffee: 1806.90.0063 for a confectionary item put up for retail sale. 

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To complete the classification process, review the legal notes for other information such as definitions, commodity exclusions and specific headings where excluded commodities are instead classified.

Need help with a Schedule B number search? Contact the Census Bureau’s International Trade Indicator Micro Analysis Branch at <eid.scheduleb@census.gov> or 1-800- 549-0595, option 2. If prompted to leave a voicemail, be sure to leave your name and the best phone number for a callback. If sending an email, include a brief description of your product and/or a link to your product, if available. 
 

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