Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code for Shamisen

I took a look at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and I’m confused where Shamisen fall. Heading 9202 (“other string musical instruments”) seems correct and subheading 9202.10.00 can be ruled out because no bow is involved.

That leaves 9202.90 (“Other”) which has several variations:

  • 9202.90.20 “Guitars, valued not over $100 each, excluding the value of the case”
  • 9202.90.40 “Other”
  • 9202.90.60 “Other”

9202.90.20 doesn’t apply to shamisen, so it looks to be down to one of two possibilities. The distinction is important since 9202.90.40 has a duty rate of 8.7% whereas 9202.90.60 has a duty rate of 4.6%. The HTS is little help for figuring out how the two are different.

Or maybe I’m looking in the wrong place entirely and there is a separate heading for traditional instruments. :woman_shrugging:

Does anyone know which code is applied to shamisen shipped from Japan to the US?

The HS system is a mess, and every country pair will have its own tariff for a given code, and not all codes listed, which makes things a bit crazy.
For example, this site Common European Tariff (TARIC) 920290 - Search results (3) will list and, whereas the one you linked lists, and
I put dots between each pair because it was the way the system was first displayed, and which makes it much easier to visualize the hierarchy. But in practive, the first 4 numbers are displayed together, and then dots are added to every subsequent pair.

But to answer your question:
You go down the tree looking for a definition. Whatever doesn’t fit the closest possible category goes into the “other” category of the closest one.
For example: Inside 92.02.90, we have the .20, guitars under $100, and .40 which is guitar “other”, literally meaning all other guitars that doesn’t fit .20, meaning all guitars above $100.
Then we have .60, which is the other that means “other than guitars”.

This is where a Shamisen will fit.
A musical instrument (92), stringed but not with a keyboard (02), guitar shaped but not played with a bow (90), and finally other than a guitar (60). So 9202.90.60

Interestingly, the Kokyu, which is the “violin of the Shamisen”, and a cousing of the Erhu, is 9202.10.90, meaning stringed, played with a bow, but not a violin.

Good luck.

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