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The Combined Nomenclature

When declared to customs in the Community, goods must generally be classified according to the Combined nomenclature or CN. Imported and exported goods have to be declared stating under which subheading of the nomenclature they fall. This determines which rate of customs duty applies and how the goods are treated for statistical purposes.

The CN is a method for designating goods and merchandise which was established to meet, at one and the same time, the requirements both of the Common Customs Tarif and of the external trade statistics of the Community. The CN is also used in intra-Community trade statistics.

The CN is comprised of the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature with further Community subdivisions. The Harmonized system is run by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). This systematic list of commodities forms the basis for international trade negotiations, and is applied by most trading nations. The CN also include preliminary provisions, additional section or chapter notes and footnotes relating to CN subdivisions. Each CN subdivisions has an eight digit code number, the CN code, followed by a description.

The basic regulation is Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff. An updated version of the Annex I to the Combined Nomenclature Regulation is published as a Commission Regulation every year in the L-series of the Official Journal of the European Communities (as well as on CD-ROM). Such updates take into account any changes that have been agreed at international level, either at the World Customs Organisation with regard to the nomenclature at HS level or within the framework of the WTO with regard to conventional rates of duty. Other changes may be required to reflect the evolution of, for example, commercial policy, technology or statistical requirements.

The Explanatory Notes:

The Explanatory Notes to the CN are considered to be an important aid for interpreting the scope of the various tariff headings but do not have legally binding force. The Explanatory Notes were established by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff. The latest version is now available from EU Official Journal C 137 of 6 May 2011.