The Harmonized System

A Brief Description of the The Harmonized System

The United States has joined the rest of the world in adopting a new import and export commodity classification system. The new import and export schedules are based on the international Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS).

Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System - HS. The international Harmonized Commodity and Coding System (HS) is a system for classifying goods in international trade which has been developed under the auspices of the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC), located in Brussels. The CCC is an international organization consisting of representatives of about 150 countries. The United States is represented in the CCC by the U.S. Customs Service.

The HS is intended to serve as a universally accepted product nomenclature classification of goods for the administration of customs programs, the collection of data on exports and imports, the determination of classification for assessment of freight charges, the collection of transport statistics for each mode of carrier, and the collection of statistics on the volume of domestic production and/or shipments. The Harmonized System, like its predecessor Customs Cooperation Council Nomenclature (CCCN), and the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature (BTN) systems, is a commodity classification system in which articles are grouped largely ac- cording to the nature of the materials of which they are made, as has been traditional in customs nomenclatures. The HS contains approximately 5000 headings and subheadings covering all articles in trade. These provisions are organized in 97 chapters arranged in 21 sections which, along with the interpretive rules and legal notes to the chapters and sections, form the legal text of the Harmonized System.

The headings and subheadings of the international HS are identified by number, of which the first two digits represent the heading position in that chapter, and the second two digits represent the divisions (subheadings) of the heading. The HS is for the most part a hierarchical system in the sense that there is nothing classifiable at a given 4-digit heading level that is not included in the given chapter (2-digit level); there is nothing classifiable at a given 6-digit subheading that is not included in the 4-digit heading. The 2-, 4-, 5-, and 6-digit levels of the HS all have meaning, from a logical and analytical statistical standpoint. However, the 1- and 3-digit levels represent only a combination of numbers and categories; these combinations may often not represent categories of logical or analytical interest. The HS 6-digit coding system can be adopted as is by individual countries, or can be expanded by adding digits for national purposes. The Customs Cooperation Council Nomenclature (CCCN) which will be superseded by the HS consists of approximately 1000 commodity classi-fications. The file Section6.DBF on the CD-ROM lists the complete Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

A concordance of the Harmonized System can be found HERE.