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Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) - Electronic Publication

The AHECC is used in the preparation of export documentation and in the compilation of Australian export statistics

Reference period
January 2017

Main features


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 Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 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, 2007 and 2012. This update incorporates the 2017 international HS changes and associated AHECC changes. The next international update is scheduled for 2022.

Between the major HS reviews, the ABS implements minor updates to the statistical codes of the AHECC. These minor updates usually result from legislative changes, or, less frequently, 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).

Structure of classification

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

The Data downloads section 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 iterations of the AHECC – presented in both ‘new to old’ and ‘old to new’ formats. The correspondences are presented both from old to new and from new to old.

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
Chapter                                              presents 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 are available in Appendix 6.1 in International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2015 (cat. no. 5489.0). Free standing descriptors were developed as a guide for statistical clients only.

The Explanatory notes section provides contact information for the Department of Home Affairs regarding classifying goods and completing export declarations.

Printing of classification

Exporters, agents or statistical users requiring a hard copy of the AHECC can print their own copy via the Data downloads section. Note that the complete AHECC comprises about 1,000 pages.

Data downloads

Data files

History of changes

Show all

21/12/2020 Note: Tables 2, 7, 15 and 24 have been updated with changes effective 1 January 2021.

25/06/2019 Note: Tables 2, 3 and 24 have been updated with changes effective 1 July 2019.

19/12/2017 Note: Tables 2, 6, 8 and 24 have been updated with changes effective 1 January 2018.

Explanatory notes

Purpose of the AHECC

1. 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 Department of Home Affairs, as well as 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 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.

6. More details on the statistical items included in both the AHECC and Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature can be found in the 5489.0 International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

General rules for the interpretation of the harmonized system and further assistance

7. Rules for classification of goods in the Harmonized System are prescribed in Schedule 2 of the Customs Tariff.

8. If you require assistance in classifying goods for export contact the Tariff Advice System on 1800 053 016.

9. The ABS cannot provide official advice nor rulings on classification matters.

Chapters 98 and 99 of the AHECC

10. 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

11. 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 ABS may contact traders, for further information, where the total value of the entry under this code will exceed $200,000.

12. 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

13. 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. Non-merchandise trade is further described in the 5489.0 International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

Availability of trade statistics

14. 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 for macroeconomic estimates.

15. The 5489.0 International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods provides an overview of the suite of international merchandise trade statistics that are published by the ABS.


ABARESAustralian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ADFAustralian Defence Force
AHECCAustralian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification
AQISAustralian Quarantine and Inspection Service
CCIDCustoms Client Identifier
CRCCTO receival notice
CRNExport (Consolidation) Sub Manifest
CTOCargo Terminal Operators
DIBPDepartment of Immigration and Border Protection
DRCDepot Receival notice
DRLDepot Release notice
EDNExport Declaration
GATTGeneral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
HSHarmonized System
ICSIntegrated Cargo System
WCOWorld Customs Organization
WRLWarehouse Release notice
WTOWorld Trade Organization

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 1233.0.