Help with classifying goods

This section is Guidance

Find out about how goods are classified, finding commodity codes and how to allocate a commodity code to your goods.

How goods are classified

Commodity codes classify goods for import and export so traders can:

  • fill in declarations and other paperwork
  • check if there is duty or VAT to pay
  • find out about duty relief

Each commodity code is made up of a number of different parts, based on:

  • the type of product
  • the material used to make it
  • the production method

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) publishes data on trade in goods using 2 classification systems:

  • the EU's Combined Nomenclature (CN)
  • Standard International Trade Classification (SITC)

Combined Nomenclature

The CN classifies goods at 8 digit level. The first 6 digits are based on the Harmonized System (HS), a global system for classifying goods developed by the World Customs Organisation.

The HS is organised into sections divided into:

  • chapters (2 digit codes or HS-2)
  • headings (4 digit codes or HS-4) 
  • subheadings (6 digit codes or HS-6)

The CN expands the HS subheading code by 2 further digits. This is used to:

  • make customs declarations
  • provide for international trade statistics
  • determine which rate of custom duty applies

Example of the CN classification system

Commodity code

Description

04

Dairy produce; bird's eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included

0406

Cheese and curd

040640

Blue-veined cheese and other cheese containing veins produced by Penicillium roqueforti

04064010

Roquefort

Standard Interaction Trade Classification (SITC)

The SITC is a standard way of classifying traded goods that is used in statistics on imports and exports. The current version of the SITC is known as Revision 4.

While not as detailed as the CN, the SITC is useful for comparing trade data between different countries and years, or analysing long-term trends.

Find commodity data

You can explore and create data tables on our website, using commodity data arranged by either CN codes or the SITC.

Finding commodity codes for imports or exports

You can search UK Trade Info to find the right commodity code.

You can also use the UK Trade Tariff tool (opens in new tab) to search for import and export commodity codes as well as the tax, duty and licenses that apply to goods.

If you are not sure how to classify a good, you can find out more about ways to help you to find a commodity code (opens in new tab). This includes getting advice from HMRC to find the right code.

Comparing goods in different classifications

The Combined Nomenclature (CN) system for classifying goods changes each year.

You can access correlation tables to help you compare changes to commodity codes between previous versions of the CN.

The correlation tables do not have legal status. You should not use them for classification decisions. Find out how to request decisions (opens in new tab).

Before you allocate a code to goods, always check the text of the 2020 CN codes.

Find correlation tables for 2020 (opens in new tab).

Earlier tables

‘Ex’ means that the content of the code for that year is partly transferred into the code of the following year.