The annual changes to customs tariff numbers are particularly extensive this year. If your goods are affected, the customs tariff number must be updated accordingly

Each year, changes are made to customs tariff numbers for a wide variety of reasons. On the one hand, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) together make amendments based on innovations on an international level; on the other hand, changes may be necessary to reflect new developments in trade policy or technical and statistical requirements. In some cases, completely new product groups must also be taken into account; for example, a corresponding classification for 3D printers and their components has naturally only existed for a few years.

Purpose of the customs tariff number

The customs tariff number is a description and coding system aimed at providing a distinct classification of goods on the basis of their nature, function and intended use. It is used to determine the corresponding import and export duties during customs clearance. Possible preferential regulations and rules of origin are also based on the customs tariff number. In addition, customs tariff numbers are used for statistical evaluations of trade flows (export share in a particular commodity group, etc.).

Structure of the 11-digit customs tariff number

The first six digits of the customs tariff number are valid in all member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Harmonized System (HS) developed by the WTO is the basis for coding goods in international trade and is revised every five years by the World Customs Organization (WCO). There are currently 155 contracting parties to this convention, but it is applied by more than 200 customs administrations worldwide.

The six digits of the Harmonized System are broken down as follows:
The first two digits represent a chapter, the following 2 digits describe the so-called heading, the next 2 digits indicate the “subheading” of the HS.
The digits seven and eight of the customs tariff code indicate the Combined Nomenclature (CN) subheading  stipulated by the European Union. The combined nomenclature serves the EU’s common customs tariff and provides statistics for trade within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world. It is important to note that the CN code is updated annually.

Digits nine and ten (known as TARIC = Integrated Tariff of the European Communities) encode Community measures such as antidumping rules, duty suspensions or tariff quotas and are only required for import.

The eleventh digit of the code number is for national use only, and is, for example, used to encode VAT rates or national bans or restrictions.

The first six digits are by and large the same all over the world. The subsequent digits may differ, which can lead to discussions between seller and buyer about which number to use.


The following table illustrates the structure of the customs tariff number using two examples (salt, coats):

Formal structure Codenumber Goods Codenumber Goods
HS Chapter
first two digits
HS Heading
second two digits
2501 Salt (including table salt and denatured salt) and pure sodium chloride, whether or not in aqueous solution or containing added anti-caking or free-flowing agents; sea water: 6202 Women’s or girls’ overcoats, car coats, capes, cloaks, anoraks (including ski jackets), windcheaters, wind-jackets and similar articles, other than those of heading 6204:
HS – Subheading
third two digits
2501 00 6202 11 — Of wool or fine animal hairn
CN subheading
7,8 digit
2501 00 51 – – – Denatured or for industrial uses (including refining) other than the preservation or preparation of foodstuffs for human or animal consumption
Subheading – TARIC / Common characteristics
9,10 digit
2501 00 51 10 – – – – Denatured 6202 1100 20 – – – Hand-made capes of wool
National Code Numbers /used for national purposes eg prohibitions and restrictions, encryption of import turnover tax rates,
digit 11 and following

How do I determine if my goods need reclassifying?

Correlation tables are provided for the reallocation of tariff numbers.

The WTO has published an online tool to compare HS editions of different years. With this tool, all versions of the Harmonized System can be compared with each other as required:


Attention: The tools presented here are NOT legally binding.


Salzburg, 13.12.2021


Similar articles


Collect on delivery

Reimbursement | Nachnahme | COD Collect on delivery (COD), sometimes cash collect on delivery or cash on demand is the sale of goods, delivered by as forwarding company like Condor…

Classification Decision: How to create flexibility in terms of time when importing equipment to Russia

If you don’t want to declare each switch of a facility separately, the larger unit must be certified as a whole and declare it all at once. The planning effort…

Uzbekistan as a Promising Market in Central Asia

As the most populous country in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has come into focus for exporting companies, primarily due to geopolitical shifts and its significant sales potential, offering opportunities for expanding…

Exporting the factory to Russia is complete, but the subsequent delivery of individual parts causes problems

When the import of an entire factory is officially completed, but then it turns out that extra parts need to be delivered afterward due to various circumstances, usually means that…