WORLD CUSTOMS ORGANIZATION
ORGANISATION MONDIALE DES DOUANES
Established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council
Créée en 1952 sous le nom de Conseil de coopération douanière
- O. Eng.
Brussels, 20 September 2001.
POSSIBLE AMENDMENT OF THE EXPLANATORY NOTES TO CLARIFY
THE CLASSIFICATION OF VITAMIN PREPARATIONS IN THE HARMONIZED SYSTEM
(Item VIII.4 on Agenda)
1. The Secretariat receives numerous enquiries concerning the classification of
“vitamin preparations” every year. Similar questions are routinely received at HS seminars,
which the Secretariat organizes in different parts of the world. In order to ensure the correct
and uniform classification of such products, the Secretariat believes that an improvement of
the Explanatory Notes could be a step in the right direction.
II. SECRETARIAT COMMENTS
2. As a first move, the Secretariat is of the opinion that the classification of a specific
vitamin preparation by the HS Committee would be an appropriate first step in this process.
From there, based on the Committee’s decision and instructions, the Secretariat could
prepare draft amendments to the Explanatory Notes (in addition to a possible Classification
Opinion) to be examined at the Committee’s next session.
3. The Secretariat has selected the following product to be considered by the
Committee. This product is, in the Secretariat’s view, a typical product for this category of
vitamin preparations :
4. “*** Vitamin C 500 mg Supplement with Rose Hips” (tablets).
According to the label on the container, one tablet contains 500 mg of ascorbic acid,
corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, cellulose, rose hips, stearic acid, lemon bioflavonoid
complex, magnesium stearate and acerola. It is further printed on the label that Vitamin C is
a powerful antioxidant that may keep you healthy by neutralizing free radicals and boosting
the immune system. The tablets are put up in containers (130 tablets). The recommended
dose is one tablet daily with a meal. The following text is also printed on the label :
"These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat cure or
prevent any disease."
Classification of vitamins/vitamin preparations
5. The classification of vitamins and vitamin preparations can, in the Secretariat’s
view, be summarized as follows :
6. Vitamins/vitamin preparations can be classified in heading 21.06, 29.36 or
30.03/30.04, depending on the composition, use, presentation, etc.
7. Heading 29.36 covers vitamins and intermixtures thereof. The scope of the heading
is governed by Notes 1 (c) to (g) of Chapter 29, which stipulate that the heading is restricted
to pure vitamins or intermixtures thereof and such products (i) “dissolved in water”, (ii)
“dissolved in other solvents …”, (iii) “stabilised for the purposes of preservation or transport
by adding anti-oxidants, anti-caking agents, etc…” (see also the Explanatory Note to
heading 29.36, Item (d) on page 423), and (iv) “with an added anti-dusting agent or a
colouring matter or a odoriferous substance …”.
8. Consequently, preparations containing ingredients (other than vitamins) which are
not allowed according to the provisions of Note 1 to Chapter 29, e.g., minerals are excluded
from heading 29.36.
9. Since vitamin preparations are usually put up in measured doses and in packings
for retail sale, the question to be considered is whether they should be classified in
heading 30.04 by virtue of Note 2 to Section VI.
10. While it can be argued that vitamin preparations have prophylactic value, they are
not normally medicaments used for the prevention of a specific disease or ailment (based on
the inquiries the Secretariat has received lately). The Secretariat has examined the
classification of several vitamin/mineral preparations in the past. Such preparations basically
contain the recommended daily dietary allowances of vitamins/minerals and are therefore, in
the Secretariat’s view, food preparations which are put up and consumed, for the purpose of
maintaining general health or well-being. Vitamin preparations used in the prevention or
treatment of a specific disease or ailment would normally contain a much higher dose of an
active ingredient than the normal dietary allowance.
11. Furthermore, the HS Committee at its 21st Session (March 1998) (Doc. 42.100,
Annex F/4) agreed that the scope of headings 30.03 (and 30.04) should be limited to
products used in medicine which contain, per dose, a sufficient quantity of an active
substance with a curative or prophylactic effect against a particular ailment or disease. The
determination of active substances could be based on details made available at the time of
importation by laboratory analysis.
12. Consequently, the Secretariat would be inclined to classify most vitamin
preparations in heading 21.06, by application of Note 1 (a) to Chapter 30. This would be
supported by the Explanatory Note to heading 30.04 (page 470, second paragraph) which
excludes “food supplements containing vitamins or mineral salts which are put up for the
purpose of maintaining health or well being …” from that heading.
Classification of the product in question
13. The product at issue (“Vitamin C 500 mg Supplement with Rose Hips”) does not
contain minerals. However, in addition to binders, mould release agents, etc, it also contains
rose hips and acerola which are fruits known as natural sources of vitamin C for nutritional
supplements. Accordingly this product can not be classified in heading 29.36 (see Note 1 to
14. The printing on the label (“These products are not intended to diagnose, treat cure
or prevent any disease”) clearly indicates that this product does not contain, per dose, a
sufficient quantity of an active substance with a curative or prophylactic effect against a
particular ailment or disease. Consequently, this product is excluded from headings 30.03
and 30.04 (see paragraphs 11 and 12 above).
15. Accordingly, the Secretariat is of the opinion that “*** Vitamin C 500 mg Supplement
with Rose Hips” should be classified in heading 21.06, by application of Note 1 (a) to Chapter
16. The Committee is invited to rule on the classification of a vitamin preparation
referred to as “*** Vitamin C 500 mg Supplement with Rose Hips”, on the basis of the
Secretariat’s comments set out in paragraphs 3 to 15 above.
17. The Committee is also invited to instruct the Secretariat as to what further action
(e.g., further clarification of the Explanatory Notes) should be taken in this regard (see
paragraph 2 above).
Vitamin C preparation (500 mg) in the form of tablets containing ascorbic acid, corn starch,
croscarmellose sodium, cellulose, rose hips, stearic acid, lemon bioflavonoid complex,
magnesium stearate and acerola. The tablets are put up in containers (130 tablets).
AGRADECIMIENTO AL V.A. OSCAR ALFARO, POR SU APORTE.