General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System
Classification of goods in the Nomenclature shall be governed by the following principles:
The titles of Sections, Chapters and sub-Chapters are provided for ease of reference only; for legal purposes, classification shall be determined
according to the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes and, provided such headings or Notes do not otherwise require,
according to the following provisions:
- (a) - Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete
or unfinished, provided that, as
presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also be taken to include a
reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this Rule), presented unassembled
(b) - Any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or
substance with other materials or substances. Any reference to goods of a given material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to
goods consisting wholly or partly of such material or substance. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance
shall be according to the principles of Rule 3.
When by application of Rule 2 (b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be
effected as follows:
(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when
two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials of substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items
in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more
complete or precise description of the goods.
(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which
cannot be classified by reference to 3 (a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential
character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.
(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3 (a) or 3 (b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order
among those which equally merit consideration.
Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with the above Rules shall be classified under the heading appropriate to the goods to which they are
In addition to the foregoing provisions, the following Rules shall apply in respect of the goods referred to therein :
(a) Camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted
to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long-term use and presented with the articles for which they are intended, shall be
classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith. This Rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its
(b) Subject to the provisions of Rule 5 (a) above, packing materials and packing containers presented with the goods therein shall be classified
with the goods if they are of a kind normally used for packing such goods. However, this provision is not binding when such packing materials
or packing containers are clearly suitable for repetitive use.
For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any
related Subheading Notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above Rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For
the purposes of this Rule the relative Section and Chapter Notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.