The Harmonized System Committee (HSC) was established with the aim of adapting the HS to suit user’s needs and to reflect changes in technology and in the patterns of international trade. To this end, the committee creates Explanatory Notes and issues Classification Opinions that helps in the interpretation of the HS by Customs authorities around the world. In this way, the HSC helps ensure that the HS is being applied the same way by all WCO contracting parties and the other HS users. The HSC usually meets at least twice a year to see if any amendments to the system need to be suggested. The committee also tries to resolve classification disputes that cannot be solved through bilateral negotiations.

As most countries still maintain protective tariffs for specific products, which often result in tariff disputes, the HSC acts as an international tribunal with regard to the classification of goods in the Harmonized System. The HSC is the single international body which can provide authoritative advice with regard to tariff classification.