A Simple Guide to Commodity Codes

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, now in place, means change. It will require adapting to new trading arrangements, rules and regulations. This information for cross-border SMEs in Ireland and Northern Ireland will introduce commodity codes, what you need to know about your product, how many digits they should be, commodity code extensions and how-to videos.

Commodity codes are sequence of numbers which classify products for import and export so you can fill in declarations and other paperwork, check if there’s duty or VAT to pay and find out about duty reliefs.

A commodity code is made up of numbers starting at six-digits and provide a detailed picture of the product being described and even the type of method used for production.

Commodity codes describe the customs duties, any preferential treatments that may apply, the restrictions and prohibitions that may apply to the import, export or transit of the goods.

It might be useful to know that commodity codes can also be referred to as “classification codes”, “tariff codes”, “customs tariff number” or “HS codes”.

Product Information

In order to find the correct commodity code for your product, you’ll need to describe each product accurately.
For example, you must know:

  • What the product is?
  • What it is made of? (Note: If it’s made of more than one material please explain the breakdown of the materials)
  • What it is used for?
  • How the product works/functions?
  • How it is presented/packaged?
  • If it is unassembled or unfinished?
  • Its technical specifications?

How Many Digits Should My Commodity Code Be?

Once you know the required product information, let’s have a look at how the commodity code is broken down. The first six digits of the code are part of a recognised system, meaning that the first six digits of the code are universally recognised and understood. Let’s use the example of a snack made from a mixture of freeze dried fruit, destined for human consumption.

The product is packaged in a cardboard box, containing 7 sachets of 14 grams each. Ingredients: freeze dried bananas, freeze dried pineapples, freeze dried apples, freeze dried strawberries, freeze dried blueberries, antioxidants: ascorbic acid, acidity modulator: citric acid, salt.

Let’s break this down to show to the how the broken down code refers to chapter, heading and subheading:

02

The first two digits designate a chapter.

08

The second two digits designate a heading.

97

The final two digits designate a sub-heading.

Step-by-Step Videos on Finding Commodity Codes 

We’ve created these videos to show you the exact process of finding the commodity code using the example of the mixed fruit snack above. The process is different for Ireland and Northern Ireland the two videos are accessible below. 

Ireland Commodity: Code Video 
Northern Ireland : Commodity Code Video

Getting Your Commodity Code

Now that you know how the commodity code is structured and extended, let’s now look at the ways in which you can find commodity code:

Option Two: Seeking further help or support on your code (Trader’s responsibility)

If you are unable to self-assess your products and do not wish to take professional advice, you can request additional support by sending a request by email to the relevant official emails below:

  • If you are based in Ireland, email tarclass@revenue.ie
  • If you are based in Northern Ireland, classification.enquiries@hmrc.gov.uk
Option 3: Binding tariff information ruling (Getting legal certainty)

To get the correct tariff classification of your product you can request a BTI ruling. It’s not a legal requirement to have a BTI ruling, but it has advantages. It is the only option which gives you legal certainty for three years about the correct tariff classification for your product to work out customs duties, export refunds, licensing requirements, quotas or other restrictions in advance. A BTI ruling is free, but you may have to pay the costs of laboratory analysis, expert advice and/or returning samples. For more information, use the links below:

Commodity Code Extensions

Many countries may choose to extend commodity codes from the 6-digits (up to a 14-digit level) to allow for more targeted tariff policies. This is why you may see commodity codes of different lengths. The combined nomenclature (CN) used through the EU adds two extra digits a commodity code to apply specific export measures. Any extra digits after this are the Integrated Tariff of the European Communities (TARIC) which adds a further two extra digits to a commodity code to apply specific import measures. As a result, exports have an 8-digit commodity code and  imports have a 10-digit commodity code.

8-Digit Export Code: Commodity Code with CN Extension

200897

The first six digits of a commodity code 

74

CN extension to allow for exports 

10-Digit Import Code: Commodity Code with CN and TARIC Extension 

200897

The first six digits of a commodity code 

74

CN extension to allow for exports 

90

TARIC code extension to allow for imports

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