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Ref : TRA CR 1015/35
8 April 2004
Strategic Trade Control Circular No. 5/04

Pre-classification Service on Strategic Commodities


            Strategic commodities are items listed in the Schedules to the Import and Export (Strategic Commodities) Regulations made under the Import and Export Ordinance, Chapter 60, Laws of Hong Kong ("Ordinance"). Import and export of strategic commodities are required by the Ordinance to be covered by import and export licences issued by the Director-General of Trade and Industry. To facilitate the trade in determining whether a product is a strategic commodity and hence subject to import/export licensing control, Trade and Industry Department ("TID") provides a Pre-Classification Service.

What is Pre-Classification?

2.          Pre-Classification is a service through which traders are advised on :
  1. whether a particular product is a strategic commodity; and
  2. if the product is a strategic commodity,
    1. the category number under Schedule 1 of the Import and Export (Strategic Commodities) Regulations that the product is classified to belong to;
    2. the technical information of the product required to be made on future licence applications; and
    3. the "Pre-classification Reference Number" assigned by TID to the product concerned. This number will greatly facilitate future licence applications covering the same product. Details are described in paragraphs 3, 13 and 14.

Advantages of Pre-Classification

3.          There are many advantages brought about by Pre-Classification Service:
  1. The assignment of "Pre-Classification Reference Numbers" for products classified as strategic commodities - "Pre-Classification Reference Number" is a unique number TID gives to each specific strategic commodity after assessment. In assigning the number, TID will also keep a systematic record of the product's technical specifications/data sheets/documents submitted by the applicant. The Department can therefore trace details of the product easily. For future licence applications covering the same product, applicants are simply required to declare the relevant "Pre-Classification Reference Number" and can then be saved from the need of submitting the bulky specifications and other technical documents in each and every licence application again and again. Note
  2. More expeditious issuance of licences - Licence applications covering products declared with Pre-Classification Reference Numbers are processed more expeditiously. First, the Pre-Classification Reference Numbers enable TID to retrieve records and technical information of the product in a very efficient manner. Second, as the Pre-Classification Results have already helped advise the applicants on the correct and necessary technical information to be made on future licence applications, delay due to unclear or insufficient technical information could be avoided;
  3. A formal advice from TID on the control status of a product - Even if there is no specific order in hand, traders can use the Pre-Classification Service to check the classification of a product and whether it requires an import/export licence; and
  4. An official document certifying that a product is not a strategic commodity - For products classified as non-strategic goods, the Pre-Classification Result is definitely a concise and valid document to prove particularly to carriers that a specific product is not a strategic commodity and hence not required to be licensed.

Pre-Classification Procedures

(A) Paper Applications

4.          Traders who wish to make use of Pre-Classification Service should complete the Pre-classification Application Form, SC013 (Rev 2011) (Annex A) (fillable pdf format). This form is free of charge and available at the Integrated Customer Service Centre at Room 1324, Trade and Industry Tower, 3 Concorde Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong.  It can also be downloaded from the Strategic Commodities Control System Website ("SC Website") at Specimen of a completed Pre-Classification Application Form is at Annex B (pdf format).

5.          The completed Pre-classification Application Form together with the required supporting documents (details of supporting documents are described in paragraph 8) should be submitted to TID the same way as for licence applications, i.e. at the Integrated Customer Service Centre at Room 1324, Trade and Industry Tower, 3 Concorde Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong.  A numbered receipt will be issued for each Pre-Classification application.

(B) Electronic Applications

6.          Companies can also submit Pre-Classification Applications in an electronic way. The E-Applications for Pre-Classification Service can be made through companies' E-Accounts in the SC Website under the program of "Pre-Classification of Products" provided at the E-Application menu (At > Login Your E-Account > E-Applications > Pre-Classification of Products > Apply for Pre-Classification of Products). For supporting documents like the product's technical specification, E-Applicants can scan, upload and submit them together with the E-Pre-Classification Application. Alternatively, they can submit the documents to TID by fax (2394 6515) or in person. Upon successful submission, E-Applicants should follow the instructions to print out by themselves the receipts for future collection of the Pre-Classification Result.

7.          To use and submit E-Applications, companies are required to complete a special registration with TID in advance. Details of the special registration and other requirements for the use of E-Applications can be found in the specific sections in SC Website :

(C) Points to Note

8.          Each Pre-Classification Application must cover only one product and be submitted together with technical specifications/data sheets of the product. In addition to basic information of the applicants, the following information regarding the products should also be stated on the Pre-Classification Application Form :
  1. Brand/Maker Name;
  2. Model/Part No.;
  3. Product description including detailed technical information;
  4. In certain cases, some parameters are not given or shown clearly in the technical specifications/data sheets. To enable TID to assess your case,
please declare the parameters that are applicable to the commodities (see Annex C (pdf format) for details);
  1. Country (Place) of Origin; and
  2. End-use of the Commodity, if available.
9.          The technical specifications/data sheets will enable TID to make a classification rating. These documents will be kept by TID for future reference and will not be returned. Application forms that are not properly completed or not accompanied by all the necessary documentation will be rejected.

Issuance of Pre-Classification Result

10.          In general, TID takes 2 clear working days to process a Pre-Classification application. For both paper and electronic applications, paper Pre-Classification Results are issued. Applicants can get back the Pre-Classification Result by presenting the receipt at the Integrated Customer Service Centre at Room 1324, 13/F, Trade and Industry Tower, 3 Concorde Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong. To ensure the Pre-Classification Results are ready for collection, applicants are advised to check at the SC Website the processing status of their applications in advance. While there is no limit on the number of products or Pre-Classification Applications a trader may submit at a time, bulk requests covering a large number of products will need longer time to process. In such cases, the applicants will be informed separately of the time required for the pre-classification.

11.         Samples of the Pre-Classification Result are at :
  1. Annex D (pdf format) - for a product which is classified as a "strategic commodity"; and
  2. Annex E (pdf format) - for a product which is classified as a "non-strategic" commodity.
12.         Where necessary, TID will impose special conditions for the use of the Pre-Classification Results. Traders are reminded to look for these conditions which will be printed out in very clear terms at the designated part, "Special Conditions" and make sure compliance with all of them in using the Pre-Classification Results.

Licence Applications Covering Pre-Classified Products

13.        When making licence applications involving Pre-Classified product, there is no need for licence applicants to re-submit technical specifications/data sheets. Applicants can simply (i) quote on the licence application form the Pre-Classification Reference Number given to the product; and (ii) declare the product information (i.e. Brand Name, Model Number, Product Description etc.) the same way as shown in the Pre-classification Result. In this connection, traders may wish to note that TID will as far as possible fine-tune and standardize terms/wording/abbreviations in respect of product information (i.e. Brand Name, Model Number, Product Description etc.) in the Pre-classification Results. This arrangement is for the consistency and clarity of the records kept in TID's database and also will let the department refrain from rejecting applications for minor discrepancies like typo errors.

14.        Companies who apply Pre-Classification Applications through their E-Accounts will find it more convenient to submit subsequent licence applications in electronic format. Records of Pre-Classified products can be retrieved efficiently through the "Search" function in their E-Accounts (e.g. To submit an Import Licence Application, at > Login Your E-Account > E-Applications > Import Licence Applications > Apply for Import Licence > click "Search" under the Section "Commodities"> Search by Pre-Classification Reference Number or brand/model/product description). As E-Applicants could insert the products' information from the search result to the licence application, there is no need to follow the procedures in paragraph 13 above.

Licence Applications Covering "Un-Pre-Classified" Products

15.         While traders are strongly advised to make use of Pre-Classification Service in order to have their products pre-classified before making licence applications, there are cases where shipments are under such hectic schedules that import/export licences, if needed, should be obtained without any delay. In these circumstances, traders could not afford to conduct a separate Pre-Classification for the products concerned but submit import/export licence applications direct.

16.         For licence applications covering products which have not been pre-classified by TID, applicants must ensure to submit together with the licence applications the products' technical specifications/data sheets and other useful technical documents. TID needs all these to decide whether the products are strategic commodities and hence subject to licensing control.

17.         Same as processing Pre-Classification Applications, TID will assign a "Pre-Classification Reference Number" to each product assessed to be a strategic commodity. Companies can easily find these newly-assigned Pre-Classification Reference Numbers as they are printed alongside the products on the issued licences. Pre-Classification Reference Numbers assigned and shown on licences can be of the same usage as those obtained in Pre-Classification Service. That means companies can use them to enjoy the facilitative licensing procedures as described in paragraphs 13 and 14 above.

18.         If the products covered by licence applications are classified as non-strategic, TID will not issue any import/export licences but a "No Licence Required" Notification ("NLR Notification"). Samples are at Annexes F (pdf format) and G (pdf format). NLR Notification is a valid proof of the uncontrolled status of the product concerned, i.e. similar to the Pre-Classification Result for usage as stated in paragraph 3(d) above.


19.         Traders are reminded that Pre-Classification Result is in no way a substitute of an import or export licence. If the product is classified as a strategic commodity, separate licence applications must be made unless licence exemption applies (i.e. air shipment cargoes made under Air Transhipment Cargo Exemption Scheme for Specified Strategic Commodities).

20.         It should be emphasized that despite TID's advice given on the Pre-classification Result, where there is any doubt on the technical aspect of individual licence applications, TID may continue to require the licence applicants to provide additional information on the product to enable our technical assessment.

21.         It is also applicants' responsibilities to ensure that the technical specifications of the goods in the actual shipment are the same as those of the Pre-Classification Application. For licence applications quoted with Pre-Classification Reference Numbers, applicants must make sure that the goods under applications are the same ones that have been assessed by TID and hence given with the quoted Pre-Classification Reference Numbers. Any misuse of Pre-Classification Service, Pre-Classification Reference Numbers or misrepresentation of information on the related licence application constitutes a serious offence under the Import and Export Ordinance (Cap. 60), and may render the applicant to legal and/or administrative action, and suspension/revocation of licensing facilities and the facilitation granted in relation to Pre-Classification Service. If there is any change of technical specifications on a previously Pre-Classified product, a new Pre-Classification request or licence should be submitted.

22.         Finally, the Pre-Classification service only deals with the technical side of the product in question. Other licence requirements, such as requirement for foreign export licence as supporting document and additional declarations to be made on licence applications will continue be considered on the merits of each licence application submitted.


23.         If you have any questions on the procedures and requirements on the pre-classification service, please contact the Classification Section of Strategic Trade Controls Branch (Tel. no: 2398 5587; Email :

Strategic Trade Controls Branch
Trade and Industry Department

Pre-Classification Reference Numbers assigned before 13 April 2004 are all in an 8-digit format. A copy of the relevant Pre-Classification Result is required to be submitted together with licence applications declared with these 8-digit Pre-Classification Reference Numbers. Re-submission of technical specifications/documents of the product is not needed.

Since 13 April 2004 , TID has enhanced its computer system with a view to maintaining a more comprehensive and efficient database. Pre-Classification Reference Numbers assigned thereafter are all made in a 5-digit format. These 5-digit numbers have further facilitated licence applicants as they, if quote the numbers, are exempted from providing both technical documents and copies of Pre-Classification Results.

TID will, when processing licence applications carrying any 8-digit Pre-Classification Reference Number(s), re-assign a 5-digit number to each such product(s). Licence applicants can easily find the newly-assigned number(s) on the issued licences and can then use these number(s) in future licence applications so as to enjoy the full benefits of Pre-Classification Service as stated above.
Last Revision Date : 09 January 2023