Classification Detail

Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System 2012 (HS 2012)

Basic Bibliographic Information

To Be Determined
English/French (Nomenclature) : ISBN 978-2-87492-164-3 English (Explanatory Notes) : 978-2-87492-024-0 English/French (Compendium of Classification Opinions / Recueil des avis de classement) : 978-2-87492-037-0
World Customs Organization
Available Formats:
Print, PDF, XML, Text
Year Adopted:
Year Published:
Available Languages (besides English):
Français, Español, Pусский, German, Portuguese Details...
Système harmonisé de désignation et de codification des marchandises 2012 (SH 2012)
English/French (Nomenclature) : ISBN 978-2-87492-164-3 French (Notes explicatives) : 978-2-87492-025-7 English/French (Compendium of Classification Opinions / Recueil des avis de classement) : 978-2-87492-037-0
Sistema armonizado de designación y codificación de mercancías 2012 (SA 2012)
Spanish (Nomenclatura) : ISBN 978-2-87492-029-5
Гармонизированная система описания и ирования товаров 2012 (ГС 2012)
Russian (Nomenclature) : ISBN 978-2-87492-028-8
Harmonisierten System zur Bezeichnung und Codierung der Waren 2012 (HS 2012)
Sistema Harmonizado de Designação e de Codificação de Mercadorias 2012 (SH 2012)
Fully available in all of the languages above

Purpose of the Classification

Statistical Domains:
2.6 International trade and balance of payments
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System generally referred to as 'Harmonized System' or simply 'HS' is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO). It comprises about 5,000 commodity groups; each identified by a six digit code, arranged in a legal and logical structure and is supported by well-defined rules to achieve uniform classification. The system is used by more than 200 countries and economies as a basis for their Customs tariffs and for the collection of international trade statistics. Over 98 % of the merchandise in international trade is classified in terms of the HS. The HS contributes to the harmonization of Customs and trade procedures, and the non-documentary trade data interchange in connection with such procedures, thus reducing the costs related to international trade. It is also extensively used by governments, international organizations and the private sector for many other purposes such as internal taxes, trade policies, monitoring of controlled goods, rules of origin, freight tariffs, transport statistics, price monitoring, quota controls, compilation of national accounts, and economic research and analysis. The HS is thus a universal economic language and code for goods, and an indispensable tool for international trade.
Main Applications:
see 'Purpose of the classification'
Main Users:
Customs administrations and customs and/or economic unions; international organisations; importers/exporters/traders.


see 'Purpose of the classification'
Concept Being Classified:
Statistical Units:
product / good
Main Principles:
see 'Purpose of the classification'
Relationships to Other International Classifications:
Related To:
Major Differences (Scope, Structure, and Concepts):
HS 2012 - CPC Ver. 2.1
HS 2012 - SITC Rev.2
HS 2012 - SITC Rev.1

Classification Structure

Definition of Structure:
Level Name:
Code Format:
Number of Items:
Level 1
21 items
Level 2
96 items
Level 3
4-digit heading
1224 items
Level 4
6-digit subheading
5205 items
Criteria for Definition of Levels:
Separate identification of a commodity at the 6-digit subheading level has been made on the basis of a sufficient international trade volume (in millions of US dollars).

Revision Information

Chronology of revisions/versions of the classification:
Year Adopted:
Title or Version Number:
HS 2007
HS 2002
HS 1992
HS 2007
HS 2002
HS 1992
Official Adopting Entity:
World Customs Organization
Coordinating Entity:
Harmonized System Committee
Next Review:
Reason for Latest Revision:
The latest revision, as well as the previous ones, were made on the basis of a permanent process, in order to keep the Harmonized System updated in light of developments in technology and changes in trade patterns.
Major Changes:
In a press release dated 3 January 2012, issued at the occasion of the entry into force of the 5th edition of the Harmonized System Nomenclature, the main changes were described as follows : 'The 2012 version includes 220 sets of amendments: 98 relating to the agricultural sector; 27 to the chemical sector; 9 to the paper sector; 14 to the textile sector; 5 to the base metal sector; 30 to the machinery sector; and an additional 37 that apply to a variety of other sectors. Environmental and social issues are the major feature of these amendments, particularly the use of the HS as the standard for classifying and coding goods of specific importance to food security and the early warning data system of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). HS 2012 also features new classification provisions for specific chemicals controlled under the Rotterdam Convention and ozone-depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol to further respond to global environment protection efforts. Changing trade patterns too played a role in the new version as did efforts to simplify the HS, recognized universally as a multi-purpose tool and used extensively as a basis for Customs tariffs and for the collection of national and international trade statistics.'
From the legal point of view, according to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, the Harmonized System is not amended between two successive editions (presently issued every 5 years). The amendments finalized during each review cycle are published as soon as they are agreed in the successive reports of the Review Sub-Committee (which met twice a year) and, subsequently, of the Harmonized System Committee (which met twice a year) as soon as they have been approved, under the status of “provisionally adopted amendments”. As far as the availability of information regarding scheduled corrections between two revisions is concerned, it should be noted that all the relevant working documents and reports (Harmonized System Committee / Review Sub-Committee / Scientific Sub-Committee) are available on our website – in electronic PDF format – to WCO Members (*) as soon as they have been issued. So, during a particular review cycle, the Members which are not attending HSC, RSC and SSC sessions on a regular basis are nevertheless informed about the development of the list of amendments agreed for further implementation. (*) : Specific area within our web site, restricted to WCO Members (and some intergovernmental organizations, e.g. WTO) and accessible through a password.

Supporting Documents

Coding Index Available:
Available Formats:
Training Materials and Other Documents:
Classification Decisions

Contact Information

Agency / Office:
World Customs Organization
Tariff and Trade Affairs Directorate
Contact Name:
Rue du Marché, 30 B-1210 Brussels Belgium


A revision website is accessible only to WCO Members.