In 1984 the members of the World
Customs Organization (WCO) adopted the Harmonised Commodity
Description and Coding Systems - more commonly referred to
today as the Harmonised System or simply the HS. The system
entered into operation at the beginning of 1988 and is currently
used by more than 179 countries, as well as Customs or Economic
Unions (there are 104 contracting parties to the HS Convention),
and accounts for over 98% percent of world trade. It is therefore
one of the most important instruments in world trade.
The HS comprises a standardised description
of goods, classified into a number of different "sections",
"chapters" and "categories" using a system
of six to ten digit numbers. The system provides for up to
99 chapter headings, covering all goods from live animals
to personal effects (some HS systems only go as far as chapter
97 - Works of art, collectors' pieces and antiques, while
others include one or two additional chapters). Following
the initial two-digit chapter number, are up to eight further
digits (in sets of two) that provide increasingly detailed
classification and descriptions of goods.
More in-depth information on hs codes can be found on ExportHelp by clicking here.
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