On January 8, 2020, the World Customs Organization ("WCO") Council announced that the seventh edition of the Harmonized System (“HS 2022”), which the WCO adopted in June 2019, has been “accepted”1 after the expiry of a six-month period during which objections could be lodged.2

The Harmonized System Nomenclature ("HS") is the international customs nomenclature for the classification of goods that is currently applied by more than 200 countries around the world. This nomenclature undergoes a review every year.

The HS is used as the basis for the determination of customs tariffs in the national jurisdictions of the Contracting Parties to the HS Convention, such as the Combined Nomenclature in the European Union and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule in the United States. In addition, the HS enables the collection and compilation of international trade statistics in 211 economies.

The WCO highlights the fact that HS 2022 seeks to adapt to changed trading patterns through “the recognition of new product streams and addressing environmental and social issues of global concern.” In this regard, amendments to the current HS (HS 2017) include new headings or explanatory notes for products such as 3D printers, smartphones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) and novel tobacco products.

In addition, HS 2022 introduces new subheadings for several items relevant from an export control and dual-use perspective. This includes radioactive materials and biological safety cabinets and detonators, as well as certain chemicals controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention.3

Further alignment between the field of customs classification and the work of other international organizations in the field of environmental law is achieved by introducing new subheadings for certain hazardous chemicals controlled under the Rotterdam Convention4 and for certain persistent organic pollutants controlled under the Stockholm Convention.5 The same applies to the introduction of new headings for electronic waste (e-waste), which assists WCO Members in their work under the Basel Convention.6 Similarly, new heading Note 4 to Section VI and new heading 38.27 have been introduced for gases controlled under the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol.7

In order to facilitate the implementation of HS 2022, the WCO continues its work preparing correlation tables between HS 2017 and HS 2022, as well as preparing explanatory notes. At the same time, national customs administrations of WCO Members are required by the HS Convention to timely implement HS 2022 by amending their national customs tariff and statistical nomenclatures in principle to enter into force on January 1, 2022.


1 WCO, The new 2022 Edition of the Harmonized System has been accepted, January 8, 2020. Available at http://www.wcoomd.org/en/media/newsroom/2020/january/the-new-2022-edition-of-the-harmonized-system-has-been-accepted.aspx.

2 WCO, WCO Council maps the road ahead during its annual sessions, June 29, 2019. Available at http://www.wcoomd.org/en/media/newsroom/2019/june/wco-council-maps-the-road-ahead-during-its-annual-sessions.aspx. See also Article 16(3) of the HS Convention.

3 OPCW, The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the Chemical Weapons Convention or CWC). Available at https://www.opcw.org/chemical-weapons-convention.

4 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. Available at http://www.pic.int/TheConvention/Overview/tabid/1044/language/en-US/Default.aspx.

5 Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutions (POPs). Available at http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/Overview/TextoftheConvention/tabid/2232/Default.aspx.

6 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. Available at http://www.basel.int/TheConvention/Overview/TextoftheConvention/tabid/1275/Default.aspx.

7 Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Available at https://ozone.unep.org/treaties/montreal-protocol.