1233.0 - Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) - Electronic Publication, Jan 2017  
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1 The Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) is designed:

  • for use by exporters and agents to classify goods when providing export declarations to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP); and
  • to assist users in the interpretation of export statistics published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

2 The AHECC is based on the 6–digit items of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS). The HS is a broad classification system of approximately 5,000 6–digit headings which are used to classify internationally traded goods as they enter or leave a country. It was developed and is maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO). First introduced on 1 January 1988, it has been adopted by most trading nations, including Australia. It enables information on traded goods to be compared internationally.

3 Australia expands the international HS to produce two different classifications for imports and exports. These classifications are the Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (referred to as the Customs Tariff or simply the Tariff) and the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (referred to as the AHECC).

4 In relation to the AHECC, the ABS expands each 6–digit HS code by adding an additional 2–digit statistical code in order to provide a finer level of detail. An AHECC code for exports therefore comprises eight digits.

5 The international HS is subject to ongoing review by the WCO to ensure it:
  • reflects newly developed commodities and changes in the types of commodities traded;
  • meets administrative requirements (for example for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)); and
  • minimises the burden on data providers by requesting only the level of detail that is administratively and statistically relevant.

6 Major changes to the international HS are implemented every four or five years. The first set of major changes was made on 1 January 1992 and impacted almost exclusively on the Explanatory Notes used to interpret the HS. Subsequently, major changes to the HS were implemented on 1 July 1996, 1 January 2002, 1 January 2007 and 1 January 2012. This version includes HS updates to be implemented on 1 January 2017.

7 In addition to incorporating amendments to the Harmonized System, changes to the statistical items are introduced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for a variety of reasons. These reasons may include the rationalisation of units of quantity; the creation of more meaningful descriptors for existing statistical items; the creation of additional codes to accommodate changes in technology and user requests; or the amalgamation of codes which are recording minimal volumes of trade.


8 Rules for classification of goods in the Harmonized System are prescribed in Schedule 2 of the Customs Tariff. These rules are applicable to the AHECC and are reproduced below.

1. The titles of Sections, Chapters and sub–Chapters are provided for ease of reference only; the classification should be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes and, provided such headings or Notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions:

2. (a) any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also be taken to include a reference to that article complete or finished (or failing to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this Rule), presented unassembled or disassembled.

(b) any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or substance with other materials or substances. Any reference to goods of a given material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to goods consisting wholly or partly of such material or substance. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3.

3. When by application of Rule 2 (b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification should be effected as follows:

(a) the Heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to Headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more Headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) mixtures composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3 (a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, in so far as this criterion is applicable.

(c) when goods cannot be classified by reference to 3 (a) or 3 (b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

4. Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with the above Rules should be classified under the heading appropriate to the goods to which they are most akin.

5. In addition to the foregoing provisions, the following Rules should apply in respect of the goods referred to therein:

(a) camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, drawing instrument cases, necklace cases and similar containers, specially shaped or fitted to contain a specific article or set of articles, suitable for long–term use and presented with the articles for which they are intended, shall be classified with such articles when of a kind normally sold therewith. The Rule does not, however, apply to containers which give the whole its essential character.

(b) subject to the provisions of Rule 5 (a) above, packing materials and packing containers presented with the goods therein shall be classified with the goods if they are of a kind normally used for packing such goods. However, this provision is not binding when such packing materials or packing containers are clearly suitable for repetitive use.

6. For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading should be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related Subheading Notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above Rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of the Rule the relative Section and Chapter Notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.


9 Goods are classified according to the general rules for the interpretation of the Harmonized System, as presented in General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System (paragraph 8). The following notes are provided to assist in understanding the HS classification and in determining the correct AHECC items to be used in making Department of Immigration and Border Protection export declarations. They are not exhaustive but try to cover the most important aspects of the classification of goods.


10 The AHECC has a structure comprising four levels, namely, sections, chapters, headings and sub–headings. At the section level, the main purpose is to provide a limited number of categories which will provide a broad picture of the goods being internationally traded. The chapter (2–digit level), heading (4–digit level) and sub–headings (6–digit level) provide increasingly detailed dissections of the broad categories.

11 Sections 1 to 15 classify raw materials including manufactures classified by material. Sections 16 to 21 classify manufactures not classified by material.

12 Goods obtained from the same material are generally grouped together and are arranged progressively from the raw material or less manufactured product through to the finished or more highly manufactured product.

13 Certain categories of exports, for example, goods re–exported after being imported for industrial processing and some ships and aircraft stores, are not classified in the normal manner and are included in either Chapter 98 or 99. For further details refer to Chapters 98 and 99 of the AHECC (paragraphs 19 to 23).


14 The following general principles should be followed when classifying goods:
  • determine the broad category to which the goods fall, for example, raw materials or semi–manufactures or finished goods;
  • select the appropriate section and chapter from Table 1.1 Summary of Classification;
  • review the Section and Chapter notes, as these notes can affect your classification decision;
  • examine the 4–digit headings in the chosen chapter then determine the most appropriate 6–digit headings; and
  • consider all the detailed 8–digit classifications under the selected 6–digit item to select the most appropriate code.

15 The following points should also be borne in mind when classifying goods:
  • classification by end–use can at times be misleading: a given commodity could, perhaps, be applied to a variety of end uses, for example, cut timber. Products of this nature should therefore be classified according to their material content; and
  • in some instances, however, the end–use is very clear, and the value–added in adapting the commodity for that end use is high. In such instances, classification by end use is appropriate, for example, typewriter ribbons of silk should be classified to 9612.10 'Typewriter and similar ribbons' not 5007.20 'Fabrics of silk'.

16 For further details refer to General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System (paragraph 8).


17 When classifying parts it is important to consider:
  • parts for general use do not take the classification of the whole goods unless indicated to the contrary by a heading at the 4, 6, or 8–digit level, for example, 7315 'Chain and parts thereof, of iron or steel';
  • where parts can be identified as being mainly for use with particular machines or apparatus they are classified under the same 4–digit heading as that particular machine or apparatus but not necessarily under the same 8 digit AHECC item; and
  • when a part is given a specific item number in the AHECC that item should be used even when the part is for a specific machine or apparatus. However, the preceding point applies if the part is in a single consignment of mixed parts of what is essentially a complete machine. For example, timing gears for railway locomotives should be entered specifically as timing gears (AHECC item 8483.40) not as parts of locomotives (AHECC item 8607.91) unless they come in a single consignment with other parts for assembly of an essentially complete locomotive.


18 If you require assistance in classifying goods for export contact the AHECC Advisory Service within Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 1300 363 263. Further contact information is outlined in the Contact Officers section.


19 The content of Chapters 1 to 97 of the AHECC is defined in the Harmonized System, but the ABS has included two additional Chapters in which goods are not classified on a commodity basis.

CHAPTER 98 Special transactions and commodities not classified according to kind

20 This chapter includes:
  • donated or bequeathed goods;
  • goods re–exported from Australia after being imported for industrial processing;
  • goods exported from Australia which are to be re–imported after industrial processing;
  • exports of mixed goods (including ship and aircraft stores being loaded on foreign registered ships and aircraft) where four or more commodities in a single consignment are reported, with a value of less than $5,000 for each commodity (excluding goods in bond subject either to excise or customs duty). Exports coded to AHECC item 9809.00.01 may include: small value ships' and aircraft stores; small value shipments of mixed goods; shipments of small value commodities associated with the initial installation of large scale projects. Goods requiring a permit should not be classified to this AHECC, but should be classified by kind. The exceptions are goods requiring an AQIS or Horticulture Australia permission and first aid kits; and
  • The approval of the ABS Classifications Manager (telephone (02) 6252 5409) is required where the total value of the entry under this code will exceed $200,000.

21 All exports with values of $5,000 or more per commodity (including ships' or aircraft stores in bond and subject to excise or customs duty) should be recorded under their substantive AHECC items.

CHAPTER 99 Commodities and transactions not included in merchandise trade

22 This chapter includes goods that the United Nations defines as being outside the scope of merchandise trade statistics. Goods recorded in this chapter are known as non–merchandise trade and are not included in Australia's international merchandise export statistics.

23 Non–merchandise trade includes:
  • goods exported after being imported on a temporary basis – ships, aircraft, goods for public exhibition and goods originally imported under Section 162 or 162A of the Customs Act 1901, for example, racing cars and associated equipment for the Australian Grand Prix, race horses for the Melbourne Cup, paintings for art exhibitions;
  • goods exported on a temporary basis and intended to be re–imported;
  • goods exported for repair, alteration or renovation and subsequent re–importation;
  • goods re–exported from Australia after being imported for repair, alteration or renovation;
  • passengers' personal effects for which a Department of Immigration and Border Protection export declaration is required;
  • goods exported by the Australian Defence Force, for use by the Australian Defence Force, for operational, training or military exercise deployment; and
  • miscellaneous commodities and transactions not included in merchandise trade:
    • ship's and aircraft's stores not subject to excise or customs duty being loaded on Australian registered ships and aircraft;
    • Australian–owned airlines' and shipping companies' parts and equipment for use in servicing their aircraft or ships overseas;
    • exports by the Australian Government for Australian representatives abroad; and
    • exports by the Australian Government for the administration of Australian territories.


24 The reporting of export details to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection may be done:
  • electronically, through the Integrated Cargo System (ICS); or
  • by document, by completing the Export Declaration forms, B957, and if required, export declaration supplementary form B957a (see Instructions for Completing an Export Declaration (paragraph 33)).

25 Exporters must report all export details prior to the goods being loaded on board the ship or aircraft transporting them out of Australia.

26 For assistance completing an export declaration please contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 1300 363 263.


27 If the export declaration is made by document, then evidence of identity must be provided before the form can be accepted.

28 The evidence of identity check must be completed at a Department of Immigration and Border Protection counter or comply with the Customs Evidence of Identity for Documentary (Paper) Transactions policy.

29 A documentary export declaration will not generally be accepted by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection except when received at their counter.


30 Export declarations require an identifier for both the reporting party (Reporting Party ID) and the owner of the goods (Goods Owner Party ID). These IDs will be either an Australian Business Number (ABN) or a Customs Client Identifier (CCID). The CCID is issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for those clients who do not have an ABN. The following clients will need to be registered with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection before an export declaration can be lodged:
  • every business that reports directly to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection;
  • every exporter identified on an export declaration; and
  • any individual, not part of an organisation/business, that reports directly to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.


31 The following classes of goods are exempt from export declaration requirements, unless there is any permit required by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or other permit issuing authority prior to export:
  • accompanied or unaccompanied personal or household effects of a passenger or crew member of an outgoing ship or aircraft, in reasonable quantities and not to be used in the course of trading outside Australia;
  • goods included in a consignment that is consigned by post, by ship or by aircraft from one person to another person, and that has a value not exceeding the threshold (currently $2,000).
  • This exemption does not apply to goods that are:
    • dutiable goods where the duty is unpaid;
    • excisable goods where the excise is unpaid; or
    • goods for which a claim for drawback of customs duty, excise duty, or Goods and Services Tax (GST) is intended;
  • military goods which are the property of:
    • Australian Defence Force (ADF) – military cargo which is the property of the ADF exported on ADF ships or aircraft from an ADF port or airport and which will not be sold or otherwise disposed of outside Australia; and
    • Foreign Defence Forces – military goods which are for use in military exercises approved by the Australian Government and which have not been entered in an import entry;
  • bags of mail (Australia Post or diplomatic);
  • goods originating in one Australian port or airport moved on an international vessel or aircraft to another Australian port or airport without the intention to export;
  • goods temporarily imported using a carnet;
  • ship and aircraft spares for use only on an Australian owned vessel or aircraft; and
  • containers or pallets that are the property of a person carrying on a business in Australia and which are exported on a temporary basis to be re–imported, whether they are empty or loaded.


32 Where all the details of a group of transactions within the consignment, other than quantity, value and gross weight, are identical, the transactions may be aggregated to a single line.


33 A copy of the documentary export declaration form (B957), can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website in the forms section. Instructions are included with the form.


34 A chemical test to determine the content of a particular element. Only input details if goods are minerals requiring an assay.


GoldAUGPTGrams per Tonne
SilverAGGPTGrams per Tonne

Assay data are provided to Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).


35 This is a declaration by the person responsible for the export declaration, that the details reported are an accurate representation of the goods exported in this consignment.

36 Before signing, please ensure that all goods included in the consignment have been reported and that the export declaration has been completed accurately.

37 The full name of the person making the declaration and the date and place of issue should be included on the export declaration. The usual signature of that person is required.



38 Goods must not be delivered to a wharf or airport for export unless the goods have been entered for export and an authority to deal with the goods is in force. This does not apply if the goods are exempt from the requirement to be entered, or where the wharf or airport operator is responsible for the entry of the goods.

39 If the goods for export are consolidated, then the consolidator must report a submanifest to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

40 For goods listed below, the wharf or airport must lodge a CTO receival notice quoting the relevant authority to deal or exemption. If no valid authority to deal is in force, the wharf or airport will be advised by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that the goods may not be loaded on board a ship or aircraft for export. It is the exporter’s responsibility to ensure that goods for export have a valid authority to deal before the goods are delivered to the wharf or airport.

41 Goods that must be reported by the cargo terminal operator on arrival at the wharf or airport are as follows:
  • Goods consigned by air, other than livestock.
  • Goods consigned by sea, in a container, whether open–roofed or not.
  • Goods that are liquids, in a container of cylindrical shape designed for the purposes of transporting liquids (known as tanktainers).
  • Excisable goods and imported goods that, if manufactured in Australia, would be excisable goods, other than:
    • Ship’s stores or aircraft stores (as defined in section 130C of the Act) or
    • Fuel oil being exported in a bulk container.
  • Machinery, other than new motor vehicles manufactured in Australia.
  • Scrap metal, however packed.
  • Goods packed in sealed or closed crates.
  • Goods packed in metal, plastic, wood or cardboard boxes that conceal the contents.
  • Goods sealed in drums.


42 Goods that are listed in Schedule 3 of the Customs Regulations 2015 that are released from a warehouse for export are known as “prescribed warehouse goods” and are subject to additional reporting requirements.

43 Prescribed warehouse goods are either tobacco products or alcoholic spirits.

Prior to release from the warehouse, the warehouse proprietor must send a warehouse release notice (WRL) to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection giving details of the goods, the authority to deal (EDN) and the intended next destination. If the authority to deal is not valid, or the details on the notice do not match the details on the export declaration, a response of “No match” is returned to the warehouse and the goods may not be released.
  • If the WRL response is “Match”, then the goods may be released and delivered to a licensed depot for consolidation, or directly to a wharf or airport. The intended depot, wharf or airport will be advised to expect the goods. The goods may not be delivered to any other place.
  • If the goods are delivered to a licensed depot for consolidation, then the depot operator must send a depot receival notice (DRC) to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection advising that the goods have been received. A response of “Consolidate” or “Do not consolidate” is sent to the depot operator.
  • If the DRC response is “Consolidate”, then the goods may be consolidated with other consignments for export and a submanifest reported to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. When the consolidation is ready to be delivered to the wharf or airport, the depot operator must send a depot release notice (DRL) to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection giving details of the authority to deal (CRN) and the intended next destination.
  • When the goods are delivered to a wharf or airport, whether directly from the warehouse, or after being consolidated at a licensed depot, the cargo terminal operator must send a CTO receival notice (CRC) to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as described in the previous section.


44 Goods classified to the following AHECC codes are prescribed warehouse goods if exported from a warehouse:
  • Undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength by volume of 80% vol or higher; ethyl alcohol and other spirits, denatured, of any strength
    • 2207.10.00
    • 2207.20.00
  • Certain undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 80% vol; spirits, liqueurs and other spirituous beverages
    • 2208.20.10
    • 2208.20.90
    • 2208.30.00
    • 2208.40.00
    • 2208.50.00
    • 2208.60.00
    • 2208.70.00
    • 2208.90.00
  • Unmanufactured tobacco and tobacco refuse
    • 2401.10.00
    • 2401.20.00
    • 2401.30.00
  • Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes, of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes
    • 2402.10.01
    • 2402.10.02
    • 2402.20.01
    • 2402.20.02
    • 2402.90.00
  • Other manufactured tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes, `homogenised' or `reconstituted' tobacco and tobacco extracts and essences
    • 2403.11.00
    • 2403.19.03
    • 2403.19.04
    • 2403.91.00
    • 2403.99.00


45 Export and import statistics are compiled by the ABS using information provided by exporters, importers and their agents to Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Aggregate export and import statistics are available in a great deal of detail but not all possible cross–classifications are released. Restrictions are placed on the release of statistics where the data for an individual or an organisation are identifiable and that entity has requested that the data be suppressed. In practice, the way that a restriction is achieved is to conceal the sensitive data by combining it with other data.

46 If requested, the ABS must assess the confidentiality status of the reported data. If it is determined that the owner of the goods is entitled to have the data confidentialised the ABS must apply a publication restriction, regardless of the reason for which confidentiality may be sought. ABS legislation does not allow any discretion to reject an application for confidentiality if it can be demonstrated that dissemination of the information would likely enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. In applying publication restrictions the ABS seeks to minimise the impact of the confidentialisation on other series.

47 If you are concerned about the possible disclosure of your trade data, please contact the ABS and your concerns will be investigated. If appropriate, restrictions will be placed upon the release of these statistics, refer to Contact Officers (at the end of these explanatory notes), for address details.

48 For further information regarding confidentiality refer to Information Paper: International Merchandise Trade Statistics, Australia, Data Confidentiality, 1999 (cat. no. 5487.0), or visit the International Trade section, which provides links to all information about international merchandise trade statistics on the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au, select Statistics, International Trade on the Browse Statistics page).


49 The ABS has responsibility for the maintenance of all aspects of the final two AHECC digits, which comprise the statistical code component of an AHECC. This maintenance role includes updating the classifications by evaluating requests from users of international trade statistics for additions or changes to statistical detail. It should be noted, however, that the ABS cannot make any changes to the 6–digit HS codes for exports, as this level of the classification is determined by the WCO.

50 In attempting to satisfy the statistical needs of a wide range of users, the ABS strives to keep the classification comprehensive, detailed and current. At the same time, however, it is necessary to limit the size and complexity of the classification in order to minimise reporting problems for exporters or their agents when completing customs documentation and to ensure accurate reporting. Additionally, account must be taken of the ongoing costs to the ABS associated with editing and processing the data and in maintaining the classifications.

51 The ABS receives many requests for the creation of new statistical codes. Such requests will only be considered where they are deemed to be in the interests of the industry concerned, as well as in the public interest. Requests of a purely market research nature will not be considered. Each request must, therefore, have the written support of a relevant government department, authority or industry association. Statements of support from government agencies or industry associations should include the reasons for that support and, in the latter case, a listing of the current members of the particular association.

52 In addition, higher priority is afforded to requests for changes which will enable government policy to be formulated, administered or monitored.

53 Requests to correct the classification will not require industry or government support where the request is aimed at:
  • clarifying a classification structure where it is possible to classify a commodity to more than one statistical code;
  • correcting a classification structure where a commodity cannot be allocated to any statistical code;
  • correcting a classification structure to remove incorrectly allocated statistical codes; and
  • updating a classification structure to reflect current terminology.

54 The ABS applies a two phase approach to reviewing requests for changes to statistical codes. This approach is called classification feasibility studies, which are cost recovered. An initial review is undertaken and, if justified, a more detailed review. A flat charge applies for the initial study. This initial study allows the ABS to identify any potential problems (e.g. confidentiality restrictions) early in the process, and thus may save the client the cost of a detailed feasibility study.

55 The price charged for a detailed study will depend on the number of commodity items to be investigated and the overall complexity of the changes requested. The written quote provided to each client will be based on the estimated hours and associated computing costs required to complete their particular review and to implement, where applicable, its findings.

56 Changes are normally made to the AHECC on 1 January and 1 July of each year. Deadlines for proposals are the preceding 1 October and 1 March respectively. The ABS reserves the right to withdraw statistical code splits which have proved unworkable.


57 Information lodged by exporters, importers and their agents, with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, is used by the ABS in compiling and publishing export and import statistics. These statistics are used to monitor and assess market share and trading patterns. Australian and overseas investors use export and import statistics to conduct market research and identify business opportunities.

58 The ABS can provide detailed statistical information on exports and imports of commodities. An example of the level of detail available for export or import commodities includes, by:
  • country of final destination;
  • state of origin;
  • port of loading;
  • mode of transport; and
  • industry of origin.

59 ABS consultants can help exporters and importers choose the statistics which best meet their information needs.

60 For further information on the availability of trade statistics, please contact the ABS. Refer to Contact Officers section (below), or visit the International Trade section, which provides links to all information about international merchandise trade statistics on the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au> select Statistics, International Trade on the Browse Statistics page).


QueryContact Telephone

Classification of Goods:for exporters/agents Log on to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website <www.border.gov.au>
Select media, publications and forms, download form B318 Application for AHECC – Export Advise
Fax: (02) 8339 7880

Complete the form and email it to:

Any samples and/or supporting information relating to the application
should be sent to:
Manager Tariff and Valuation
Customs House
Locked Bag 3000

AHECC Advisory Service
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
1300 363 263

QueryContact Telephone

For statistical usersClassification Manager
International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
(02) 6252 5409

Statistical Information:Information Consultancy
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Email: <client.services@abs.gov.au>
1300 135 070

Confidentiality:Classification Manager
International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Email: <international.trade@abs.gov.au>
(02) 6252 5409

Changes to, or general queries on AHECC:Classification Manager
International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Email: <international.trade@abs.gov.au>
(02) 6252 5409

Written enquiries can be sent to:International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10

AHECC replacement. See ABS website pages: (any queries to Classification Manager)

ABS website:<www.abs.gov.au>