What are CPV codes?

What are CPV codes? 150 150 Contracts Advance

CPV codes (otherwise known as Common Procurement Vocabulary codes) are a way of categorising contract notices in order to make them easier for suppliers and contracting authorities to find. With over 9,000 CPV codes defined, they can be complex to use, but once you’ve identified the ones that are relevant to your organisation they can really help you find the tenders that are relevant to you.

Who created the CPV code system?

The CPV code classification system was developed by the European Union to improve transparency and efficiency in the tendering process. By having a consistent and widely adopted coding system (its use has been mandatory in the European Union since 1 February 2006), navigating the vast array of tender opportunities in the market becomes much simpler since it gives suppliers a means by which they can search for tenders that require their specific set of capabilities. Tender alert platforms such as ours use CPV codes to classify tender opportunities and deliver them to potential suppliers typically using a daily email alert.

How are CPV codes formatted?

CPV codes consist of a main ‘vocabulary’ and a supplementary vocabulary. Respectively these define the subject of the contract and other qualitative information.

The main vocabulary is based on a tree structure made up with codes of up to 9 digits (an 8 digit code plus a check digit).

Each 9-digit code has an associated description which explains the type of supplies, works or services that are covered by the contract.

Main vocabulary structure

The first 8 digits of the CPV code are subdivided into the following parts:

  • Divisions: first two digits of the code XX000000-Y
  • Groups: first three digits of the code XXX00000-Y
  • Classes: first four digits of the code XXXX0000-Y
  • Categories: first five digits of the code XXXXX000-Y

Let’s have a look at a few example CPV codes:

  • 03113100-7 Sugar beet
  • 03113200-8 Sugar cane
  • 18451000-5 Buttons
  • 18453000-9 Zip fasteners
  • 71355000-1 Surveying services
  • 71355200-3 Ordnance surveying

These may look unrelated at first, but on closer inspection you’ll notice that they have common elements as described as subdivisions above – for example the category 03113 relating to plants for sugar manufacturing.

Typically, contract notices will use a number of CPV codes to give suppliers an idea of the services required to be delivered.

The top-level CPV code hierarchy

The list below shows the top-level of the CPV code hierarchy. You’ll see that the subjects are many and varied!

[03000000] Agricultural, farming, fishing, forestry and related products
[09000000] Petroleum products, fuel, electricity and other sources of energy
[14000000] Mining, basic metals and related products
[15000000] Food, beverages, tobacco and related products
[16000000] Agricultural machinery
[18000000] Clothing, footwear, luggage articles and accessories
[19000000] Leather and textile fabrics, plastic and rubber materials
[22000000] Printed matter and related products
[24000000] Chemical products
[30000000] Office and computing machinery, equipment and supplies except furniture and software packages
[31000000] Electrical machinery, apparatus, equipment and consumables; lighting
[32000000] Radio, television, communication, telecommunication and related equipment
[33000000] Medical equipments, pharmaceuticals and personal care products
[34000000] Transport equipment and auxiliary products to transportation
[35000000] Security, fire-fighting, police and defence equipment
[37000000] Musical instruments, sport goods, games, toys, handicraft, art materials and accessories
[38000000] Laboratory, optical and precision equipments (excl. glasses)
[39000000] Furniture (incl. office furniture), furnishings, domestic appliances (excl. lighting) and cleaning products
[41000000] Collected and purified water
[42000000] Industrial machinery
[43000000] Machinery for mining, quarrying, construction equipment
[44000000] Construction structures and materials; auxiliary products to construction (except electric apparatus)
[45000000] Construction work
[48000000] Software package and information systems
[50000000] Repair and maintenance services
[51000000] Installation services (except software)
[55000000] Hotel, restaurant and retail trade services
[60000000] Transport services (excl. Waste transport)
[63000000] Supporting and auxiliary transport services; travel agencies services
[64000000] Postal and telecommunications services
[65000000] Public utilities
[66000000] Financial and insurance services
[70000000] Real estate services
[71000000] Architectural, construction, engineering and inspection services
[72000000] IT services: consulting, software development, Internet and support
[73000000] Research and development services and related consultancy services
[75000000] Administration, defence and social security services
[76000000] Services related to the oil and gas industry
[77000000] Agricultural, forestry, horticultural, aquacultural and apicultural services
[79000000] Business services: law, marketing, consulting, recruitment, printing and security
[80000000] Education and training services
[85000000] Health and social work services
[90000000] Sewage, refuse, cleaning and environmental services
[92000000] Recreational, cultural and sporting services
[98000000] Other community, social and personal services

If you’d like to see them all feel free to download the full list of CPV codes.

How we use CPV codes

CPV codes are just one of the ways in which you can find tenders within our tender alerts platform. You’ll be able to find tenders that are relevant to you by selecting the appropriate CPV codes on the platform’s search screen.

Want to test it out?