HS, CN, TARIC, EZT? What’s the difference?

You will come across these abbreviations again and again. But what exactly is the difference between the Harmonized System, the Combined Nomenclature, the TARIC and the electronic tariff?

The Harmonized System (HS-Code)

The long name for the Harmonized System is “Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System”, and is an internationally recognized nomenclature of standardized product classification. The HS, which is the common abbreviation, is used in over 200 countries (including the EU, the USA, Japan and China) and encompasses over 5000 commodity groups. Every group is clearly labeled with a 6 digit code. The HS was developed by the the World Customs Organisation (WCO). There are standardized rules so as to insure standardized implementation of these codes in all countries using the Harmonized System. These rules, as well as the actual HS, are updated every 5 to 6 years by the HS Committee of the WCO. The next update for the HS is planned for January 1, 2022.

The first 6 digits of a customs tariff number are the same in all countries which use the HS.

The Combined Nomenclature (CN-Code)

In 1987, at the introduction of a common customs tariff, the EU together with the VO (EWG) 2658/87 constructed the basis for the Combined Nomenclature (CN). The CN is based on the Harmonized System (see 1.5.1). Accordingly, the first 6 digits are identical to the commodity group as set by the HS, with the addition of two more digits (seven and eight). The current list of CN is published annually, no later than October 31st, for the following year in the EU Official Journal, available in all EU languages.

The eight-digit CN code makes up the statistic commodity number used for export and intrastat.

TARIC – An Integrated Customs Tariff by the EU

The TARIC is based on the Combined Nomenclature. Thus, the first 8 digits are identical to the CN. The TARIC is a standardized customs tariff of the European Union and contains 2 more digits, which means the TARIC is now made up of ten digits, these codes reveal such information concerning anti-dumping, duty suspension or tariff quotas.

EZT – The Electronic Customs Tariff

The electronic customs tariff is a national customs tariff of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is identical to the first ten digits of the TARIC, extended by an eleventh digit. The complete customs tariff number is therefore eleven digits long, with only the first 10 digits requiring uniformity within the entire EU.

The reason there is a national adjustment for each country within the EU is due to ramifications still being being worked out nationally. Among those is the amount of import VAT (reduced or standard tax) or the excise tax such as on beer, tobacco or coffee. However, this also means that these national requirements are not recognizable in the TARIC. The EZT coding only reveals requirements placed by the Federal Republic of Germany, not those of other member countries.

Information about EZT is available free of charge in Germany online under www.zoll.de.


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