What is the Harmonized System (HS) Commodity Code?

There are various commodity nomenclatures in use worldwide. The most commonly available is the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which categorizes products to a large extent by the materials used.


The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems generally referred to as "Harmonized System" or simply "HS" is a multipurpose international product nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).


Description Codification Example # items
HS-Section Roman letters I 21
HS-Chapter HS-2 = 2-digits 04 97
HS-Headings HS-4 = 4-digits 0406 1'241
HS-Subheadings HS-6 = 6-digits 0406.40 5'199
on national level
HS-8, HS-10,
HS-11 = 8-11-digits
0406.4010 Depending on country


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.


The system is used by more than 200 countries and economies 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.


While the HS coding system (up to HS-6) is an international standard, there are occasions where the coding system is changed or extended by the standard body. With Global Trade Tracker we make these changes visible, indicating the years of validity for these codes. If the time span that interests you covers different HS-codes, then you will have to select those covering the full time span to retrieve the correct data.


Some countries will suppress some commodity data if they would expose an exporter's or importer's trade flows directly. Hence to guarantee the local firms' confidentiality their trade data will be suppressed. (Source: WCO)