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What is the difference between a commodity code, tariff number, HS Code, Tariff Heading and CN?

Terminology matters in customs classification. We clarify once and for all.


Commodity Code

A commodity code is a sequence of numbers made up of six, eight or ten digits that are used within the European Union (EU) countries and many other countries around the world.


Classifying goods in terms of tariff headings means assigning them a code, which is made up of the Combined Nomenclature (chapters, headings and subheadings) and customs duties.


The Harmonized System (HS-Code)

The long name for the Harmonized System is “Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System”, and is an internationally recognized nomenclature of standardized product classification. The HS, which is the common abbreviation, is used in over 200 countries (including the EU, the USA, Japan and China) and encompasses over 5000 commodity groups. Every group is clearly labelled with a 6-digit code. The HS was developed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). The first 6 digits of a customs tariff number are the same in all countries which use the HS.


The Combined Nomenclature (CN-Code)

The EU together with the VO (EWG) 2658/87 constructed the basis for the Combined Nomenclature (CN) and the CN is based on the Harmonized System. Accordingly, the first 6 digits are identical to the commodity group as set by the HS, with the addition of two more digits (seven and eight). The eight-digit CN code makes up the statistic commodity number used for export and EU Intrastat.


TARIC – An Integrated Customs Tariff by the EU

The TARIC is based on the Combined Nomenclature. Thus, the first 8 digits are identical to the CN. The TARIC is a standardized customs tariff of the European Union and contains 2 more digits, which means the TARIC is now made up of ten digits, these codes reveal such information concerning anti-dumping, duty suspension or tariff quotas.



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