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Frequently asked questions

Harmonized System

1. I want information on the Harmonized System Convention

2. I want to know the tariff classification of a product in the Harmonized System

3. I want information on the Harmonized System Nomenclature 2022 Edition

4. Where can I find Correlation Tables of the HS editions?

5. Can you give me some guidance on the structure and the length of the HS code?

6. Can I make suggestions for the amendment of the Harmonized System? 

7. Why is the Harmonized System not amended more often to meet the needs of the trade?

8. Are HS codes always numbered consecutively?

Harmonized System Committee

9. I want information on decisions taken by the Harmonized System Committee

10. How can I access documents or reports of the Harmonized System Committee?

11. Can I submit a classification issue to the Harmonized System Committee?

12. Can the decision-making process of the Harmonized System Committee be speeded up?

13. Can representatives of the private sector participate in meetings of the Harmonized System Committee?

General

14. I want to know the duty rate (customs duty) for a product

15. Can I get access to the Members Area of the WCO Web Site?

16. I want to know countries, territories or Customs or economic unions applying the Harmonized System

17. I want to know the contact information of officials responsible for HS matters in national administrations

18. I want information on the WCO Recommendations related to the Harmonized System Convention

19. How can I purchase WCO publications on the Harmonized System?

Your question/answer is not in this list? Then, continue searching with the "Search" tool for this website.

 

Harmonized System

1. I want information on the Harmonized System Convention

Find here the text of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System

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2. I want to know the tariff classification of a product in the Harmonized System

As an intergovernmental organization, the WCO does not provide information about the tariff classification of goods to the private sector or to private persons. You are advised to contact the Customs administration of the importing country or exporting country for assistance.

Click here for e-mail addresses of officials responsible for Harmonized System matters in national administrations, who are the national contact points for matters related to HS classification, decisions taken by the HS Committee and policy matters.

The HS Nomenclature 2022 Edition, which is the current version applied in international trade transactions, can be found on the WCO’s Nomenclature web page under Instruments and Tools. (see also FAQ #4).   The HS 2022 can be consulted in a searchable database form on the WCO Trade Tools site.

Please note that the final classification on import or export into a specific country will be under the relevant national tariff schedule.  These can usually be consulted on the website of the relevant Customs administration.

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3. I want information on the Harmonized System Nomenclature 2022 Edition

The HS 2022, which is the seventh edition of the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature, entered into force from 1 January 2022.  

Click here for the HS Nomenclature 2022 edition in pdf form, the information about the HS 2022 amendments, the complementary amendments to the HS 2022 edition and the Correlation Tables HS 2017-2022.
Click here for the information about the Correlations between the HS and selected international conventions.

HS 2022 is available in a searchable database form on the WCO Trade Tools site.

For additional information about the national tariff amendments or the Correlation Tables, you are advised to contact your national Customs administration. Click here for e-mail addresses of officials responsible for Harmonized System matters in national administrations.

For publications on the HS Nomenclature 2022 Edition, please visit the WCO Online bookshop.

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4. Where can I find the Correlation Tables of the HS editions?

Correlation Tables 2022/2017 correlating HS 2017 and HS 2022 editions

Correlation Tables 2012/2017 correlating HS 2012 and HS 2017 editions

Correlation Tables 2007/2012 correlating HS 2007 and HS 2012 editions

Correlation Tables 2002/2007 correlating HS 2002 and HS 2007 editions

Correlation Tables 1996/2002 correlating HS 1996 and HS 2002 editions

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5. Can you give me some guidance on the structure and the length of the HS code?

Click here for general information on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

The Harmonized System (HS) is governed by "The International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System". The official interpretation of the HS is given in the Explanatory Notes (5 volumes in English and French) published by the WCO. The Explanatory Notes are also available by online subscription, as part of the HS Database (WCO Trade Tools) which groups all the available HS Tools, including the information on the HS Nomenclature, the Compendium of Classification Opinions, the Explanatory Notes, the Alphabetical Index and the Brochure on Classification Decisions taken by the Harmonized System Committee.  You can purchase Harmonized System publications at the WCO Online bookshop.

The Harmonized System provides a logical structure within which over 1,200 headings are grouped in 96 Chapters, the latter being themselves arranged in 21 Sections. Each heading is identified by a four-digit code, the first two digits of which indicate the Chapter wherein the heading appears, while the latter two indicate the position of the heading in the Chapter. Thus, heading 10.01 ("wheat and meslin") is the first heading of Chapter 10, which, in its entirety, covers "cereals". In addition, most of the headings are subdivided into two or more 1-dash subheadings which, where necessary, are further subdivided into two or more 2-dash subheadings and which are identified by a 6-digit code (HS code).

The HS comprises over 5,600 separate groups of goods identified by a 6-digit code, the first four digits thereof correspond to the relevant heading number, while the fifth and sixth digits identify the one- and two-dash subheadings respectively. The absence of such subheadings is indicated by a zero.

For example :

1. HS code 0205.00 means : the fifth heading of Chapter 2, which has not been subdivided;

2. HS code 0103.10 means : the third heading of Chapter 1, first subheading which has not been further subdivided;

3. HS code 0303.11 means : the third heading of Chapter 3, first two-dash subheading of the first one-dash subheading.

For an information sheet explaining that the Harmonized System has evolved into a multi-purpose tool, click here.

At present, the HS Nomenclature 2022 Edition is the valid version applied in international trade transactions.

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6. Can I make suggestions for the amendment of the Harmonized System?

Because the WCO is an intergovernmental organization, suggestions for amendment of the HS should be brought to the attention of the national Customs administration concerned or another intergovernmental organization which might then ask the WCO Secretariat to place the issue on the agenda of the Harmonized System Committee.

Click here for an information sheet explaining the Harmonized System review process.

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7. Why is the Harmonized System not amended more often to meet the needs of the trade?  

The Harmonized System is only amended every 5 years. There are several reasons and, frankly, competing interests. The drafting of amendments usually takes several years of deliberation by the Committees concerned and consultations with the trade. Thereafter, the HSC and the Secretariat need several years for revision of the HS publications, whereas Member administrations need time for translation of amendments into languages other than French and English, national legislative procedures, WTO negotiations, etc.

Click here for an information sheet explaining the Harmonized System review process.

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8. Are HS codes always numbered consecutively?

In principle, headings and subheadings are numbered in a consecutive way. This principle is, however, interrupted as from 1996 some HS code numbers disappeared as the result of the HS subheadings having been renumbered when their content was changed.

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Harmonized System Committee

9. I want information on decisions taken by the Harmonized System Committee

One of the HSC’s main roles is to take all measures required to secure uniformity in the interpretation and application of the Harmonized System. (See “Article 7 of the HS Convention”).
Technical questions concerning the classification of goods in the HS are usually submitted to the HSC by the Contracting Parties to the HS Convention.

However, the Secretariat may also submit to the Committee, for examination, certain classification cases which have arisen in the course of its work.  Questions on current classifications of goods may also arise from considerations in the RSC on potential HS changes.

The measures taken following the examination of a classification question can vary depending on the type of case examined:

Decision recorded in the Committee’s Report

In cases where classification is already clearly determined by a Harmonized System heading or the text of the Explanatory Notes, and consequently raises no particular problems, the Committee may decide simply to refer to the question in the Report of the session at which the question was examined.

Decision of the Committee published in the form of a Classification Opinion in the CCO

In cases where the question raised is of particular interest, the Committee may decide to issue a Classification Opinion, generally accompanied by a description of the product classified, and of its use.  These Opinions may sometimes contain indicative illustrations.

The latest decisions taken by the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) on the classification of specific products as well as the amendment of the HS Explanatory Notes and the Compendium of Classification Opinions (CCO) are published on the Nomenclature web page under Committees, click here for information classification decisions taken by the Harmonized System Committee.

Furthermore, the WCO maintains a historical documentation database ("Historical Documents") containing documents and reports of past Harmonized System Committees (without disclosing the business confidential information or classification questions currently under consideration) (see also FAQ # 10).

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10. How can I access documents or reports of the Harmonized System Committee?

The WCO Secretariat does not provide copies of working documents and reports as these are Member only documents. 

However, to assist public research, documents can be released as historical documents once the release of the documents is approved by WCO Members.  This is done periodically.  They are then made available through the WCO historical documentation database ("Historical Documents"). This database contains Harmonized System Committee documents and reports (without disclosing the business confidential information or classification questions currently under consideration).

Due to resource constraints in working with documents in very old formats, we have a back-log with regard to the publication of documents published prior to the 10th session of the HSC; this situation will be resolved as resources to do so become available. 

For information on specific topics, you are advised to contact your national Customs administration. Click here for e-mail addresses of officials responsible for Harmonized System matters in national administrations, which may advise you in matters related to HS classification, decisions taken by the HS Committee and policy matters.

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11. Can I submit a classification issue to the Harmonized System Committee?

Because the WCO is an intergovernmental organization, such questions should be brought to the attention of the national Customs administration concerned or another intergovernmental organization, which might then ask the WCO Secretariat to place the issue on the agenda of the Harmonized System Committee.

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12. Can the decision-making process of the Harmonized System Committee be speeded up?

An excellent question and one the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) has spent much time considering. The HSC has taken steps to expedite the procedure for re-examination of questions by limiting reservations against a decision, which should result in a quicker final decisions on controversial questions.  Customs administrations are encouraged to submit questions on a timely basis with all information necessary for a considered decision.  For some classification questions, Members may require consultations with other areas within their governments or trade, so it is imperative that sufficient time be given to administrations for that purpose.

Click here for an information sheet explaining the procedure for re-examination (reservation) of questions by the HSC.

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13. Can representatives of the private sector participate in meetings of the Harmonized System Committee?

The basic answer is no. But the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) participates as an industry representative and observer in meetings of the Harmonized System Committee. The WCO would also be pleased to welcome representatives of other international organizations as observers. However, the WCO cannot invite representatives of individual companies or regional organizations to meetings of the Harmonized System Committee.

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General

14. I want to know the duty rate (customs duty) for a product.

The WCO does not provide information about duty rates, because customs duties are applied by WCO Members at national level.

For more information, you are advised to contact the Customs administration of the country concerned, or search on the WCO web page for National and International Customs Tariffs.

The WTO also has a number of publicly available databases, publications, and analytical tools on customs duty rates that can all be accessed through its tariff data web page.

The Internet addresses of electronic Customs tariffs are listed in Annex II to the document regarding the position of the Contracting Parties to the HS and non-Contracting Party Administrations, which can be found on the Nomenclature web page under Overview.

Click here for e-mail addresses of officials responsible for Harmonized System matters in national administrations, which may advise you in matters related to HS classification, decisions taken by the HS Committee and policy matters.

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15. Can I get access to the Members Area of the WCO Web Site?

Access to the restricted Members Area of the WCO Web Site is reserved for the Customs authorities of the WCO Member Administrations.

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16. I want to know countries, territories or Customs or economic unions applying the Harmonized System

The list of countries, territories or Customs or economic unions applying the Harmonized System can be found on the Nomenclature web page under Overview.

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17. I want to know the contact information of officials responsible for HS matters in national administrations

Click here for e-mail addresses of officials responsible for Harmonized System matters in national administrations, which may advise you in matters related to HS classification, decisions taken by the HS Committee and policy matters.

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18. I want information on the WCO Recommendations related to the Harmonized System Convention

The Recommendations concerning the application of the Harmonized System Convention concern :

a. The introduction, at national level, of additional subheadings in WCO Member (or Customs) administrations’ statistical nomenclatures to control or to monitor international trade in certain commodities;

b. The facilitation of the collection, comparison and analysis of international statistics;

c. The promotion of objective, predictable and transparent classification practices.

For an overview of the WCO Council Recommendations related to the HS, click here.

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19. How can I purchase WCO publications on the Harmonized System?

You can purchase Harmonized System publications at the WCO Online bookshop, such as:

Harmonized System Nomenclature (Legal text)

This publication contains the following:

(a) The text of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System;

(b) The text of the Nomenclature established under the above Convention. The Nomenclature includes the General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System, the Section, Chapter and Subheading Notes, and the headings and subheadings.

Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized System

As commentaries finalized by the Harmonized System Committee and adopted by the WCO Council, the Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the HS at international level.

The Explanatory Notes are also available as an online subscription, as part of a HS database (WCO Trade Tools).  This WCO Trade tools includes all the available HS Tools, including the Nomenclature, the Compendium of Classification Opinions and the Explanatory Notes, as well as other publications relating to the HS and the Valuation and Origin tools. 

Compendium of Classification Opinions

The Compendium of Classification Opinions contains a list of some of the more important and/or difficult classification decisions taken by the Harmonized System Committee and adopted by the WCO Council.

The Classification Opinions are also available as an online subscription, as part of a HS database (WCO Trade Tools).  This WCO Trade tools includes all the available HS Tools, including the Nomenclature, the Compendium of Classification Opinions and the Explanatory Notes, as well as other publications relating to the HS and the Valuation and Origin tools. 

Alphabetical Index to the Harmonized System

This Index is an alphabetical list of the articles and products mentioned in the HS and its Explanatory Notes.  It should be noted that this is currently being updated for HS 2022.

The Alphabetical Index is also available as an online subscription, as part of a HS database (WCO Trade Tools).  This WCO Trade tools includes all the available HS Tools, including the Nomenclature, the Compendium of Classification Opinions and the Explanatory Notes, as well as other publications relating to the HS and the Valuation and Origin tools. 

WCO Trade Tools

The WCO Trade Tools is a new database that offers a single point of access to the Harmonized System, preferential Rules of Origin and Valuation, through a completely new, user-centric and ergonomic interface.

It compiles information to support international trade actors in the classification of goods and the determination of the corresponding Customs tariffs.

In addition to a new interface design and new search engines, this new platform offers the following key features:

  • A direct overview of the most recent HS updates, highlighting the changes introduced;
  • A system for tracking the evolution of the HS codes across editions, using a “History” tool;
  • A comparison function between different HS editions or languages;
  • Ability to cross-reference information by using a comparison tool in the Harmonized System (HS) and Rules of Origin.

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