By Anne Van de Heetkamp, Descartes, VP of Product Management (Global Trade Intelligence)
WCO 2022 Updates

In the blink of an eye, the 2017 World Customs Organization (WCO) HS Code updates seem a distant past and the 2022 ones are around the corner.  Every five years the WCO makes us jump for joy with a fresh HS code of paint and, with 351 amendments for 2022, the WCO is outdoing itself once more (2017 only had a measly 233 amendments).

The various categories account for the changes as follows: 77 in agricultural, food and tobacco (including something for ‘edible, non-living insects’ of heading 4.10 – Beijing’s Donghuamen’s night market will never be the same!); 58 in chemicals; 31 in wood items; 21 in textiles (fashion designers rise up!); 27 in the base metal sector; 63 in the machinery and electrical and electronic goods sector as innovation there never stands still; 22 in the transport sector; and 52 changes in other sectors.

Focus Areas of the World Customs Organization’s HS Code Updates

As always, the update fine-tunes certain Harmonized System headers as well introduces some brand-new ones to keep in sync with (mostly) technological developments, although 2022 includes a major focus on enhancing capabilities to better track products that impact the ozone/climate.

But let’s first put to rest the opinion that ‘HS codes can’t be fun’: heading 95.08 got a makeover to clarify some things for ‘travelling circuses and travelling menageries, for amusement park rides and water park amusements, fairground amusements, and traveling theatres’. Who can argue that’s not a lot of fun!  Then again, 4421.20 now has a specific provision for coffins, and that definitely isn’t fun.

Below is an overview of what else caught the eye, but note that this list is not exhaustive and all changes can be found at table-i_en.pdf (

      • There are some changes in the food sector, for example, mushrooms to support the large growth in this sector.
      • Chapter 24 added 2401.11 and a few others to facilitate classification of tobacco products used while vaping in a trendy neighborhood.
      • Many changes in chapters 29 through 37 are made to create HS codes that are in sync with regulations regarding ozone-affecting materials.
      • Many changes occurred across chapter 44 for wood products, with some to specify dimensions and new subheadings to enhance monitoring of global trade (e.g., to differentiate between tropical, coniferous, and non-coniferous wood species).
      • Textile changes remained limited with only headers 6116, 6201, 6202, and 6210 seeing changes.
      • 7019 underwent major changes for glass fibers, rovings, etc.
      • Chapter 81 also underwent an overhaul to be in sync with the Basel Convention to enable tracking of environmentally harmful materials.
      • Heading 8485 came to life to incorporate 3D printers into the tariff.
      • Across chapters 84 and 85, a number of new headings see daylight to improve the monitoring of dual-use items. In this ‘don’t try this at home’ category fall cold isostatic presses (used to create unsintered die compacted metal powder parts but can be used for ‘green’ manufacturing as well as for military purposes) of 8479.83, products under new subheadings 8514.11 and 8514.19 (hot isostatic presses) and ‘other furnaces and ovens’ like the electron beam furnaces of 8514.31 (also new are plasma and vacuum arc furnaces of 8514.32 and the ‘other’ in that category of 8514.39).
      • 8501 got the reshuffle for solar energy-related products.
      • LEDs and flat panel displays will receive attention come January 1 as well as 8517.13 for smartphones. Many of these changes relate to multi-purpose products and provide better transparency for their classifications.
      • Straight from the Basel Convention, most e-waste found its way from 8548 to the brand-new heading 8549.
      • Vapers will be delighted to hear they also got new HS codes with the initiation of subheading 8543.40.
      • A large number of changes were made along 8701 and 8704 to account for rapid advancements in the electric vehicle industry.
      • And last, will drones become the new computers? Or better, will Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) become the new ‘data processing machine’ and no common person will be able to find them in their 8806 heading?

And so, another WCO update finds its way into a January 1st frenzy.  Hopefully the local authorities will publish the new tariffs sooner rather than later, allowing for some time to do what is needed and re-classify the affected products.

How Descartes CustomsInfo Can Help

Effective and timely HS and HTS code lookup and related regulatory research are a challenge for many businesses that move goods across borders. Harmonized System codes, duties and tax rates change frequently, as do government regulations and policies relating to classification, valuation, and special trade programs and free trade agreements.

Descartes CustomsInfo Reference has an up-to-date database of more than 6 million regulatory sources covering 160+ countries. Its advanced global tariff code lookup and HS and HTS code search capabilities are accessed from a single-screen interface, helping import compliance professionals, attorneys, consultants and others make significantly better classification decisions more efficiently, optimize duty spend, as well as support classification determinations for audit purposes.

Descartes CustomsInfo Manager allows organizations to set up a central repository of product classification codes that can interface with multiple ERP, GTM and ecommerce systems, as well as facilitate collaborative teamwork across departments, divisions and regions. With this solution, companies can also better prepare for HS and HTS code updates by pre-classifying ahead of time and going live with the changes when required.