HS Codes for Fish and Fish Products Handbook

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By Milthon Lujan

FAO GLOBEFISH has just launched a unique publication – the HS Codes for Fish and Fish Products Handbook. This revolutionary publication was developed with the technical support of the World Customs Organization (WCO).


The Harmonized System (HS) is an international standard nomenclature to allow traded goods to be classified on a common basis for customs purposes. It comprises approximately 5 300 product descriptions arranged in 99 chapters, grouped in 21 sections. It is possible to classify all physical goods using the HS standard six-digit code system. Countries use this HS six-digit code in their national classification, but they can create additional digits for specific purposes. The HS system is also used for statistical, taxation, control, and monitoring purposes at a country level. It is important to note that all exported and imported products are classified using a national classification based on the HS system.

This FAO GLOBEFISH publication presents the HS code in a practical and easy-to-read way. It facilitates the understanding of the classification system applicable to fisheries and aquaculture products. On many occasions, when analyzing international trade information (tariffs or trade data flows), products can be associated with hard-to-understand descriptions. This aspect usually happens when products not included in the HS code are not mentioned in the short description. The GLOBEFISH HS Handbook creates a self-contained product description to solve this problem.

For example, HS code 0303.49 is a tuna product with the following description in the HS and the GLOBEFISH HS Handbook:

HS code description: Other tunas, frozen


GLOBEFISH HS Handbook description: Tunas (of the genus Thunnus), frozen; excluding albacore or longfinned tunas, yellowfin tunas, skipjack or stripe-bellied bonito, bigeye tunas, Atlantic bluefin tunas, Pacific bluefin tunas and southern bluefin tunas, and also excluding fillets and other meat (whether or not minced), livers, roes, milt, fins, heads, tails, maws and other edible offal

The GLOBEFISH HS Handbook approach allows the user to understand precisely what the code refers to. This self-contained description of each code is in the second section of the publication, where all HS codes for fisheries and aquaculture products are listed in the order they appear in the HS. This publication section is instrumental to search by HS code.

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In the first section of the publication all species in the HS are presented by their common name, listing all possible classifications of their products and treatments and the respective commodity codes. The species are listed in alphabetical order and divided by groups based on their phyla (fish, crustaceans, molluscs or other aquatic invertebrates).

Reference (open access):
FAO and WCO. 2021. HS Codes for Fish and Fish Products – Harmonized System. Nomenclature 2017 Edition. Rome. 



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