Learn How to Find and Calculate Duties and Taxes using Customs Info Database Global Tariff Lookup Tool
Last Published: 7/31/2019

What it is and how to use it.

Products shipped internationally may be subject to duties (tariffs) and taxes (and other fees) that are assessed by customs authorities.  To estimate duties and taxes, you may use the Customs Info Database—a global tariff tool look-up offered by third party provider, Descartes.  The database includes duties and taxes and the formulas how to calculate them for over 160 countries.  This easy to navigate tool is available via online subscription for the users of export.gov.  There is no cost to use this database but you must register.  (Please read this Disclaimer statement regarding third-party information providers)

For assistance with how to use this tool, you may want to follow the a step-by-step explanation using a specific example.

How to register and how to locate an HS code, you may scroll to the end of this article.  

Example:  a small producer of organic skin lotions in California received an order for a $1000 shipment from a buyer in Mexico.  The company already located the product classification number--HS code:  HS 3304.99.  They now want to estimated duty and tax so they can quote the landed cost for the buyer. They also want to see if the product may be made more competitive by taking advantage of NAFTA rate.  How do they use Customs Info Database to figure this out?
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1. Locate Customs Info Database on export.gov (http://export.customsinfo.com/Default.aspx). 

2. LOG IN to the database using your email address. You must register first (it is free and simple).  Instruction on registration at the end of this document. 

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Select COUNTRY you are shipping to.  Use the drop DROP-DOWN MENU to select Mexico.

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Type in the HS code number for HS 3304.99 -- skin lotion.  You do not need to type in periods.  Just type the six digit code -- 330499.
Click on SEARCH Button.  See the end of the document to for assistance with locating an HS code.  
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Screenshot 4. 

FIND your product —find skin lotion and note under HS Code and product description. 

Note that you were searching for HS 330499 and you found HS 330499.01.  That is OK.  Other countries'  HS codes usually match up only with the U.S. first six digits. 
If you have entire ten digit (or sometimes longer) HS code of a country you are exporting to, you may use that number.

SELECT your product by clicking on the little icon to the left of the product’s description.

On your export documentation, you may use either the six digit code or a unique ten digit code associated with particular destination country.   However, the more precise, the better.
Sometimes your product fits into broad category but is not specifically listed, so you may use “Other.”

Mexican equivalent of the HS 3304 99 for skin lotion is  HS 3304.99.01
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Click on CALCULATE button

Make sure that the broader description (Full HS code section) accurately describes your product.

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Screenshot 6:  View your results! 
Note that MFN (most favored) i.e. standard tariff rate sometimes may be referred to as the General Rate.as in this particular example. 
If so, use this rate as your standard MFN rate.
If both MFN and general rates are listed separately, use MFN rate.       

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Here is an example of how to estimate cost of shipping skin lotion to Mexico account using the above duty and tax rates.  

Let's say you are shipping $1000 worth of skin lotion.  The cost of shipping is $200 and the cost of insuring $10.  How much will the entire transaction cost to bring to Mexico?

Mexican customs will charges the following duties and taxes for skin lotion

•  15% CIF (cost, insurance and freight) standard/general/MFN tariff rate  OR
•   0% NAFTA preferential tariff rate (if the product is made in the US and qualifies for NAFTA            treatment) AND
•  16% CIF+Duty for the tax

Your CIF (Cost+Insurance+freight) value will be:

C= $1000          Cost ( Invoice value), i.e. how much your are charging the importer/buyer)
I=$10                Insurance
F=$200             Freight

No you can figure out standard tariff (duty) rate of 15%:


In sum:  the tariff rate Mexico will charge on this shipment will be $181.5.  The tariff rate would be zero is shipping under NAFTA.

You now need to figure out cost of tax.  The tax will be assessed on either option—standard or NAFTA shipment.

VAT= 16% (CIF+Duty)

CIF- $1210





Answer.  Duty for the product is $181.50 and the VAT tax $222.64, assuming the product would be assessed standard  15% rate. 

If the product is eligible for NAFTA rate, the duty will be waived (with NAFTA certificate) and the product will be subject to ac VAT charge of $222.64.
If you need help with registration and look up the HS code, visit the Customs Info Database article

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.