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New APIs provide wine importers with fast and accurate commodity codes

Today Liv-ex announces the release of new APIs that promise to reduce the bureaucratic friction for wine importers, letting them generate in real time the commodity codes needed to complete customs paperwork post Brexit.

To move wine efficiently between the EU and UK, or indeed many other territories, parties in the supply chain require an accurate commodity code for every wine on the shipment. Since the UK left the Customs Union, the volume of paperwork needing these codes has multiplied significantly, slowing down the supply chain. Because of the information and knowledge required, like designation of origin, pack size and alcohol values, one commodity code can take up to 20 minutes to generate manually.

Examples of the different data sets required for different codes

In generating and applying these codes, the risk of human error is high too. These codes are important because they are used to calculate the Customs Duty or VAT owed when moving goods between the UK and EU. HMRC warn on their website that the wrong codes lead to delays, seizures of goods and that the wrong duty being paid which incurs additional charges.

Despite these issues, Liv-ex’s logistics operation is still able to deliver wine from the EU, bought on Liv-ex, to UK merchants in under 30 days. What makes this possible are the databases, algorithms and APIs we’ve built. We are making these tools available to help others in the wine trade navigate the bureaucracy described by Daniel Lambert in this article and to reduce the ‘cumulative costs that are potentially crippling’.


The first of these is LWIN, the biggest open-source database of wine and spirit descriptions. For around 90,000 products, the region, colour, designation and other information is freely available to all by simply downloading the database. The database can be searched at scale via our LWIN Search API.


The second of these is our ever-growing database of ABV values. At the time of writing, this contains over 19,000 values. Uniquely, a large proportion of these have been verified. Our logistics team inspect wine as it passes through our warehouses. Over 90% of the top-traded wines on Liv-ex have verified ABVs spanning many countries and regions of origin. Using LWIN codes, this database can be searched via our ABV API.

Commodity Code API

With the accurate region, designation and pack size from LWIN and the accurate ABV values from our database, our commodity code algorithm can generate the correct 8-10 digit commodity code for wines, fortified wines and spirits to comply with UK, EU and Singapore (ASEAN) standards in real time. A process that can take 20 minutes to do manually, can be done automatically in under a second using our Commodity Code API.

Importantly, when it comes to commodity codes, the LWIN database is unique in so far as it contains the correct designation for each vintage. These might be different for the same wine across a spread of vintages, and therefore require a different commodity code e.g:

Businesses that move multiple wines at scale will benefit most from using these APIs to automate the generation of their commodity codes and customs paperwork. These APIs are available to Liv-ex members on a Gold package or higher. For businesses operating at lower volumes, a solution is available to generate codes accurately one at a time.

To find out more:

Further reading:

Liv-ex: Brexit: why is wine taking longer to arrive? And what are the hidden costs?

The Buyer: Daniel Lambert: ‘Catastrophic impact of Brexit on small wine suppliers

The Guardian: ‘A multiple pile-up in the fog’: wine agent’s fury at Brexit red tape

Harpers: Brexit: Reality bites

Liv-ex: Brexit and the wine trade – Liv-ex webinar replays