What Is the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System?


Quick Answer

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, or "Harmonized System," is an international method for identifying and classifying commodities in international trade. It was developed in 1988 by the World Customs Organization.

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Full Answer

The Harmonized System covers approximately 5,000 product categories and is a structured six-digit code. The system is used by over 200 countries for 98 percent of international trade products and is further utilized by governments and the private sector for statistics and tracking purposes. The Harmonized System is occasionally updated by the Harmonized System Committee, most recently in 2012. The World Customs Organization was founded in 1953 with the mission of processing international trade and unifying customs procedures.

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