A Guide to Commodity Codes

This guide to commodity codes for businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland provides an overview of what you need to know about your product, how many digits your commodity code should be and commodity code extensions.

Red lorry on a broad motorway.Contents

What do I need to know to identify the correct commodity code for my product?
How many digits should my commodity code be?
What are commodity code extensions?
Where can I go to get the right commodity code?


On 1st January 2024, a new version of the EU Combined Nomenclature took effect. This is the eight-digit system used for developing commodity codes and applies to both businesses based in Ireland and Northern Ireland. As a result, some commodity codes that you may have used previously will have changed. For more information including details on which codes have changed please visit the following link: 

Customs Tariff - Combined Nomenclature (taxation-customs.ec.europa.eu)

Commodity codes are made up of sequences of numbers that classify products for import and export. They are important so that businesses can correctly complete customs declarations, commercial invoices, and bills of lading, check if there’s a duty or VAT to pay for your product, and identify any other prohibitions or restrictions that may apply.

A commodity code is made up of either eight digits (when exporting) or ten digits (when importing) and provides a detailed picture of the product being described and even the type of method used for production.

Using the correct commodity code on a customs declaration is a legal requirement. Choosing an incorrect commodity code can result in adverse legal consequences. If you are classed as the importer of record, you are legally responsible for all information contained within a declaration. Whilst in many cases a supplier may provide a commodity code, the legal responsibility remains with the Importer of Record.

It is useful to know that commodity codes can also be referred to as "classification codes", "tariff codes", "customs tariff numbers" or "HS codes". "HS" stands for Harmonized System.

What do I need to know to identify the correct commodity code for my product?

It’s important for businesses to ensure they have identified the correct commodity code for their product as the legal responsibility lies with the trader, not a customs agent or freight forwarder.

When identifying a commodity code, you must consider:

  • What the product is (its main purpose, functionality, what it’s used for).
  • What the product is made of (main components with a full breakdown of materials).
  • Its technical specifications.
  • How the product is packaged / presented.
  • If it is unassembled or unfinished.

How many digits should my commodity code be?

Once you know the required product information, you can then begin to identify the correct code relating to your product and understand how commodity codes are made up.

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.

How to identify the first six digits:

Here's an 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 and salt.

We can break this down to show to the how the commodity code refers to chapter, heading and subheading (there are also video demonstrations below):




The first two digits designate a chapter.

The second two digits designate a heading.

The final two digits designate a sub-heading.

For our example the chapter is 02 which means “Preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants”. For our example the heading is 08 which means “Fruit, nuts and other edible parts of plants, otherwise prepared or preserved, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or spirit, not elsewhere specified or included”. For our example 97 means a sub-heading of “Mixtures”.

Businesses in Ireland must use the European Commission site for identifying commodity codes, and businesses in Northern Ireland will use the GOV.UK tariff look-up site:

Visit the TARIC Consultation site 

What are 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 to 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.

TARIC Additional Code
In addition to the 10-digit commodity code for imports, some products may require a TARIC Additional Code. A TARIC Additional Code is an additional 4-digit code that will be declared on customs declarations. (If a TARIC Additional Code is not required, this field can be left blank.)

You can find out whether a TARIC Additional Code is required by searching for a commodity code in either the EU’s TARIC Database or the Northern Ireland online Tariff. 

Where can I go to get the right commodity code?

Now that you know how commodity codes are structured and extended, we will look at ways in which you can find the right commodity code for your product:

1. Find your commodity code online

As it is the trader’s responsibility to identify the correct commodity code, we recommend using the below official links to self-assess which commodity code is right for your product

2. Seek further help or support on your commodity code

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 to the relevant official emails below:

3. Binding tariff information ruling (get legal certainty)

To get the correct tariff classification of your product you can request a Binding Tariff Information (BTI) ruling. It’s not a legal requirement to have a BTI ruling, but it has advantages. It's 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 changes

Every five years, the World Customs Organization (WCO) updates its list of commodity codes. The latest version of these codes came into force in January 2022. The WCO publish correlation tables that can be used to check if the current commodity code will change and, if so, where the relevant goods will be classified. You can check your codes on this table from the World Customs Organization.


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Article reviewed: January 2024