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. Today the HS is widely used in international trade by more than 200 countries and economies, out of which 151 are Contracting Parties to the HS Convention, 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 is not simply a Customs nomenclature, nor simply a statistical nomenclature but a multi-purpose tool also used by importers, exporters, freight forwarders, producers, and all other parties involved in international trade, as well as by international organizations.
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.
Click here for an Overview of the Harmonized System
Click here for the HS Nomenclature 2012 Edition