1233.0 - Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) - Electronic Publication, Jan 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/08/2011   
   Page tools: Print Print Page


The Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) is designed for use by exporters, customs brokers and freight forwarders in the classification of goods when providing export declarations to the Australian Customs Service, and to assist users interpret export statistics published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The classification is based on the six digit international Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) for describing internationally traded goods. The ABS extends the six digit international HS by two digits to provide a finer level of detail to meet Australian statistical requirements (Statistical codes).

The most significant changes to the AHECC occur when the WCO periodically updates the international HS. The international HS and the AHECC have been updated in 1992, 1996, 2002 and 2007. This update incorporates the HS 2012 changes. The next international update is scheduled for 2017. The ABS also conducted a review of statistical codes. This identified statistical codes of low value and proposed merging a number of codes. A draft of the proposed AHECC was released on the ABS website for comment on 24/03/2011. The 2012 HS review together with the ABS statistical code review resulted in the creation of 980 new eight digit statistical codes and the deletion of 1,444 eight digit statistical codes. The AHECC, revised to accommodate the HS 2012 and statistical code reviews, becomes operative for exports with a date of departure of 1 January 2012 or later. For exports with a date of departure of 31 December 2011 or earlier the current version of AHECC should be used. This is available on the ABS website: Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC), 2007.

Between the major HS reviews, the ABS implements minor updates to the statistical codes of the AHECC on 1 January and 1 July each year. These minor updates result from the evaluation of requests from users of export statistics for additions or changes to commodity information. Information on how requests can be submitted, and are assessed, is available from Information paper: International Trade Classification Feasibility Studies, 2001 (cat. no. 5499.0.55.001).


The AHECC is only available electronically in Excel spreadsheet format. The AHECC is presented in a number of tabs, as follows:

    • The 'Details' tab displays the following spreadsheets:
      Table 1 AHECC Summary of Classification Codes and Abbreviations with separate worksheets for:
        1.1 Summary of Classification
        1.2 Unit of Quantity
        1.3 Abbreviations
        1.4 FOB Currency Codes
        1.5 Countries.

      Table 2 Key of Changes with separate worksheets for:
      2.1 Correspondences between AHECC 2011 and 2012 which shows those codes which have changed as a result of the HS 2012 review. The correspondences are shown in two directions. The columns are:

      Column headingDescription

      AHECC 2012the statistical codes which will commence on 1 January 2012
      AHECC 2011the statistical codes which will be replaced by them on 31 December 2011
      AHECC 2011the statistical codes which will close on 31 December 2011
      AHECC 2012the statistical codes which will replace them on 1 January 2012

      2.2 Historical Table which presents the following columns:

      Column headingDescription

      Previous codethe statistical code that closed
      Replacement codethe statistical code(s) created as a result of the closure of the previous code
      Date replacedthe date the replacement code became operative (this is the day after the previous code closed)
      Expiry dateindicates when a code used to replace a previous code is subsequently closed (if blank this indicates the replacement code is still operative)

      Tables 3 – 23 AHECC Sections each of which comprises the following worksheets:

      Worksheet headingDescription

      Section notesinformation relevant to classifying goods in that section
      Chapter notesoutlines the broad structure of the classification and provides information specific to classifying goods in each chapter within the section
      Chapterpresents the classification of a chapter within the section. Each worksheet shows 2, 4, 6 and 8 digit codes, unit of quantity and description in different columns. This format facilitates electronic sorting and searching of the classification

      The chapter notes and chapter classification are in sequential order for each chapter within that section.

      Table 24 AHECC Complete File
      which includes the complete AHECC, with 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 digit codes, and headings in different columns for use by exporters and agents to upload into their own computer system. Free standing descriptors will not be available in this release. They will be released as in Information paper: Changes to AHECC and Customs Tariff (cat. no. 5368.0.55.017) to be published on 8 December 2011. Free standing descriptors were developed as a guide for statistical clients only and standard classification principles should be applied when classifying goods. This is not a print friendly version and has been zipped due to its size.
    • The 'Explanatory Notes' tab provides information from the Australian Customs Service about classifying goods and completing export declarations.

The classification can be accessed in two ways from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>:
  1. select Statistics, By Catalogue Number, 12. Classifications and work manuals, 1233.0 or
  2. select Topics @ a Glance, Economy – Foreign Trade, Using Foreign Trade Statistics, Classification.


Exporters, agents or statistical users requiring a hard copy of the AHECC can print their own copy via the Details tab. Select 'File', 'Print', then select 'Entire Workbook', as this will speed up the process of printing. This needs to be repeated for each Section spreadsheet required to be printed. Note that the complete AHECC comprises about 1,000 pages.

Correspondences between the 2012 AHECC and related classifications, like the Standard International Trade Classification Revision 4, Broad Economic Categories and the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006, will be available on 8 December 2011 from the 'Details tab' of the Information paper: Changes to AHECC and Customs Tariff (cat. no. 5368.0.55.017).


If you have any difficulties accessing the AHECC on the ABS website, please contact the ABS Classification Manager on (02) 6252 5409 or email international.trade@abs.gov.au.