The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System of Tariff Nomenclature, generally reffered to as the Harmonized System (HS) is an international nomenclature defined by the World Customs Organization (WCO) for the classification of products. It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for Customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System for classifying goods is a six-digit code system.
The HS comprises approximately 5,000 article/product descriptions that appear as headings and subheadings, arranged in 96 chapters (Chapter 77 is reserved for future use) and grouped into 21 sections.
Of the six digits, the first two digits identify the chapter the good is classified in, e.g. 09 = Coffee, Tea, Mate and Spices. The first four digits identify the heading, a finer breakdown of the chapter, e.g. 09.02 = Tea, whether or not flavoured. The full six digits identify the sub-heading,
and are even more specific, e.g. 09.02.10 = Green tea (not fermented). Up to the HS-6 digit level, all countries using the Harmonized System have the same codes.
In implementing the Harmonized System, most countries add additional digits for finer breakdown below the sub-heading level. Some add an additional two digits, the tariff item level, at which duty rates are assigned. Others add a further two digits, the classification level.
This final level is generally for statistical purposes, consequently, unit(s) of measure are generally assigned here. Note that a few countries do not assign additional levels, consequently their duty rates are applied at the sub-heading level.