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Taxation and Customs Union

The Combined Nomenclature

The Combined Nomenclature (CN) is a tool for classifying goods, set up to meet the requirements both of the Common Customs Tariff and of the EU's external trade statistics. The CN is also used in intra-EU trade statistics.

It is a further development (with special EU-specific subdivisions)  of the World Customs Organization's Harmonized System nomenclature. This is a systematic list of commodities applied by most trading nations (and also used for international trade negotiations).

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How does it work?

It is used to classify most goods when they are declared to customs in the EU.

The CN subheading stated in declarations for imported and exported goods determines:

  • which rate of customs duty applies
  • how the goods are treated for statistical purposes or for other European Union policies

Latest version

Every year, Annex I to the basic CN Regulation (Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff) is updated and published as a stand-alone Regulation in the EU's Official Journal. Such updates take into account any changes that have been agreed at international level, either at the World Customs Organization (WCO) with regard to the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature or within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with regard to conventional duty rates. Other changes may be required to reflect the evolution of, for example, commercial policy, technological or statistical requirements.

Interpreting the nomenclature

You can do this with the aid of the explanatory notes, which explain the  scope of the various tariff headings. The Explanatory Notes are established by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff.

They are  not legally binding.

Changing the nomenclature

If you want to request an amendment to the combined nomenclature, you can find more details in the code of conduct.

What's in the nomenclature?

The combined nomenclature includes:

  • preliminary provisions (general rules for classification, rules related to duties or to nomenclatures, etc.)
  • descriptions of the goods
  • additional section/chapter notes and footnotes relating to CN subdivisions
  • conventional duty rates – the EU tariff commitments in the WTO, and some EU autonomous duties
  • supplementary units
  • a set of tariff-related annexes (agriculture, chemistry, etc.) and a special coding system (Chapters 98 and 99).
  • Each subdivision of the nomenclature is known as a ‘CN code’. It has an 8-digit code number followed by a description and a duty rate, and as the case may be, a supplementary unit.

Chapter in the Harmonized System (HS)

2 digits

e.g. ‘Chapter 18  Cocoa and Cocoa Preparations

HS heading

4 digits

e.g. ‘1806  Chocolate and other food preparations containing cocoa

HS subheading

6 digits

e.g. ‘1806 10 Cocoa powder, containing added sugar or sweetening matter

CN subheading

8 digits

e.g. ‘1806 10 15 — — Containing no sucrose or containing less than 5 % by weight of sucrose (including invert sugar expressed as sucrose) or isoglucose expressed as sucrose’

Harmonized System and EU-specific detail


Harmonized System (WCO-International)


EU-specific detail