Updated: Jan 3, 2022
(S,P) The EU has published the 2022 version of the Combined Nomenclature. Download the version here and consider the changes + 19 Nov 21 Amendment
What is the CN in a nutshell?
The Combined Nomenclature forms the basis for the declaration of goods (a) at importation or exportation or (b) when subject to intra-Union trade statistics. This determines which rate of customs duty applies and how the goods are treated for statistical purposes. The CN is thus a vital working tool for business and the Member States' customs administrations.
Where can I find it?
The Combined Nomenclature was established by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff. It is updated every year and is published as a Commission Implementing Regulation in the Official Journal of the European Union, L Series. The latest version is now available as Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1832 in EU Official Journal L 385 of 29 October 2021.
A tool for classifying goods
The Combined Nomenclature (CN) is a tool for classifying goods, set up to meet the requirements both of the Common Customs Tariff and of the EU's external trade statistics. The CN is also used in intra-EU trade statistics.
Going beyond WCO
It is a further development (with special EU-specific subdivisions) of the World Customs Organization's Harmonized System nomenclature. This is a systematic list of commodities applied by most trading nations (and also used for international trade negotiations).
How does it work?
It is used to classify most goods when they are declared to customs in the EU.
The CN subheading stated in declarations for imported and exported goods determines:
which rate of customs duty applies
how the goods are treated for statistical purposes or for other European Union policies
Every year, Annex I to the basic CN Regulation (Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff) is updated and published as a stand-alone Regulation in the EU's Official Journal.
Such updates take into account any changes that have been agreed at international level, either at the World Customs Organization (WCO) with regard to the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature or within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with regard to conventional duty rates. Other changes may be required to reflect the evolution of, for example, commercial policy, technological or statistical requirements.
The latest version of the Combined Nomenclature (CN) applicable from 1 January 2022. The 2022 CN reflects the latest changes in the Harmonised System Nomenclature.
Interpreting the nomenclature
You can do this with the aid of the explanatory notes, which explain the scope of the various tariff headings. The Explanatory Notes are established by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff.
They are not legally binding.
Changing the nomenclature
If you want to request an amendment to the combined nomenclature, you can find more details in the code of conduct
What's in the nomenclature?
The combined nomenclature includes:
preliminary provisions (general rules for classification, rules related to duties or to nomenclatures, etc.)
descriptions of the goods
additional section/chapter notes and footnotes relating to CN subdivisions
conventional duty rates – the EU tariff commitments in the WTO, and some EU autonomous duties
a set of tariff-related annexes (agriculture, chemistry, etc.) and a special coding system (Chapters 98 and 99).
Each subdivision of the nomenclature is known as a ‘CN code’. It has an 8-digit code number followed by a description and a duty rate, and as the case may be, a supplementary unit.
Key chances are in line with the 2022 WCO changes:
Electrical and electronic waste, commonly referred to as e-waste, is one example of a product class that presents significant policy concerns as well as a high value of trade, hence HS 2022 includes specific provisions for its classification to assist countries in their work under the Basel Convention.
New provisions for novel tobacco and nicotine-based products resulted from the difficulties of the classification of these products, lack of visibility in trade statistics and the very high monetary value of this trade.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, also gain their own specific provisions to simplify the classification of these aircraft. Smartphones will gain their own subheading and Note, which will also clarify and confirm the current heading classification of these multifunctional devices.
Major reconfigurations have been undertaken for the subheadings of heading 70.19 for glass fibres and articles thereof and for heading 84.62 for metal forming machinery.
These changes recognize that the current subheadings do not adequately represent the technological advances in these sectors, leaving a lack of trade statistics important to the industries and potential classification difficulties.
One area which is a focus for the future is the classification of multi-purpose intermediate assemblies.
Flat-panel display modules will be classified as a product in their own right which will simplify the classification of these modules by removing the need to identify final use.
Health and safety have also featured in the changes. The recognition of the dangers of delays in the deployment of tools for the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases in outbreaks has led to changes to the provisions for such diagnostic kits to simplify classification.
New provisions for placebos and clinical trial kits for medical research to enable classification without information on the ingredients in a placebo will assist in facilitating cross-border medical research.
Cell cultures and cell therapy are among the product classes that have gained new and specific provisions.
On a human security level, a number of new provisions specifically provide for various dual use items. These range from toxins to laboratory equipment.
Protection of society and the fight against terrorism are increasingly important roles for Customs. Many new subheadings have been created for dual-use goods that could be diverted for unauthorized use, such as radioactive materials and biological safety cabinets, as well as for items required for the construction of improvised explosive devices, such as detonators.
Goods specifically controlled under various Conventions have also been updated. The HS 2022 Edition introduces new subheadings for specific chemicals controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), for certain hazardous chemicals controlled under the Rotterdam Convention and for certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) controlled under the Stockholm Convention.
Furthermore, at the request of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), new subheadings have been introduced for the monitoring and control of fentanyl and their derivatives as well as two fentanyl precursors.
Major changes, including new heading Note 4 to Section VI and new heading 38.27, have been introduced for gases controlled under the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol.
The changes are not confined to creating new specific provisions for various goods. The amendments also include clarification of texts to ensure uniform application of the nomenclature. For example, there are changes for the clarification and alignment between French and English of the appropriate way to measure wood in the rough for the purposes of subheadings under heading 44.03.
This version applies from 1 January 2022.
Amendment 19 November 2021
Basic regulation (2658/87)
Code of conduct
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