Harmonized Systems (HS) Convention

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, generally referred to as the Harmonized System or simply the "HS", is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO). The HS is governed by "The International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System", which was adopted in June 1983 and entered into force January 1988.

The objective of the HS Convention is to facilitate trade and information exchange by harmonizing the description, classification and coding of goods in international trade. The HS is used for Customs tariffs and the collection of external trade statistics. 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 a nomenclature for the coding, description and classification of goods/products in international trade. It consists of over 5,000 commodity groups, which are structured into 21 Sections (Sections I to XXI), 97 Chapters (1 - 97), four-digit headings and six-digit sub-headings. Chapters 98 and 99 are for national use only. The HS harmonizes the codification of commodities up a six-digit scheme. Most Customs administrations, however, use a ten or more digit commodity coding system, with the first six digits being the HS code. To achieve uniform classification of goods in the HS, it also contains Section, Chapter and Subheading Notes and General Interpretative Rules. The official interpretation of the HS is given in the Explanatory Notes (5 volumes in English and French) published by the WCO. These Explanatory Notes are also available online and on CD-ROM, as part of a commodity database giving the HS classification of more than 200,000 commodities actually traded internationally (Source: WCO website).

The HS is binding to Contracting Parties. The Convention and any disputes are administered by the WCO HS Committee. The HS Committee also prepares amendments updating the HS every 5 – 6 years. The latest HS edition now in force is the 2012 edition, following those of 2002 and 2007. As of July 2012, the HS has 143 Contracting Parties (142 countries and the EU). As of June 2012 128 countries have implemented the 2007 edition, and 76 countries have already implemented the 2012 edition. Besides the 143 Contracting Parties, many more countries and territories actually apply HS without being a Contracting Party. As of July 2012, over 206 countries, territories and economic or Customs unions are applying HS in practice. Over 98 % of the merchandise in international trade is classified in terms of the HS. More detailed information about the Contracting Parties or information about all countries and territories applying the HS is provided by the WCO with regular updates on their website.

More detailed information about the contracting parties or information about all countries and territories applying the HS is provided by the WCO with regular updates on their website.

Pages that cite the HS Convention:


Qualified suppliers and products lists