How to read the nomenclature

  1. First, choose which section/chapter corresponds to the product.
  2. Examine if there is a note affecting the classification. (Note that the EU’s TARIC database does not contain notes. You can find the notes in, for example, Fintaric).
  3. Examine the main headings (4 digits): which one matches the product?
  4. Examine your chosen heading’s one-dash subheadings, if applicable: which one-dash subheading corresponds to the product? If your chosen one-dash subheading is divided into two-dash subheadings, proceed to select one of them, and so on.
  5. Examine if there is an HS explanatory note or a CN explanatory note that applies to your chosen heading?
  6. The CN explanatory notes complement the HS explanatory notes.The HS and CN explanatory notes further define the product coverage of each heading and explain the terminology. Note that beside the explanatory notes, there may also be general instructions at section or chapter level.
  7. Examine the Collection of classification decisions to find out if a classification regulation or recommendation has been issued for a similar product.

Example (dated 19 March 2019), classification of ornamental fish

Section I contains, as the title says, live animals and animal products. Chapter 1 under section I contains, as the title says, live animals.

When classifying ornamental fish, you may end up in chapter 1, live animals, if you do not read note 1 (a) of chapter 1, which excludes, among others, heading 0301 (Live fish) from the chapter:

1. This chapter covers all live animals, except:
(a) fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates, of heading 0301, 0306, 0307 or 0308;
(b) cultures of micro-organisms and other products of heading 3002; and
(c) animals of heading 9508.

Heading 0301 is the main heading, which is divided into two one-dash subheadings (situation on 19 March 2019).

0301 Live fish:
  – Ornamental fish:
  – Other live fish:

The subheading for ornamental fish is further divided into two two-dash subheadings:

0301 Live fish:
– Ornamental fish:
0301 11 – – Freshwater fish
0301 19 – – Other
– Other live fish:

As laid down in interpretation rule 6, the scope of a two-dash subheading may not be expanded outside of the one-dash subheading to which the two-dash subheading belongs. In other words, when classifying ornamental fish, you have to remain within the two-dash subheading and not venture into the scope of the one-dash heading “Other live fish”.

In order to complete the classification, you must answer the question: is it a freshwater fish or a fish other than a freshwater fish.

The HS explanatory notes for heading 0301 contain an explanation for the expression “ornamental fish”. The CN explanatory notes for heading 0301 complement the HS explanatory notes for the said heading by explaining what the subheading “Freshwater fish” covers.