Common Procurement Vocabulary
Navigate Up
Sign In

Common Procurement Vocabulary


The Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) establishes a single classification system for public procurement aimed at standardising the references used by contracting authorities and entities to describe the subject of procurement contracts.

Current CPV codes

The CPV, adopted by Regulation (EC) No. 213/2008 is in use since 17/09/2008.
Current CPV codes may be viewed and downloaded from here.

What is the CPV?

The CPV consists of a main vocabulary for defining the subject of a contract, and a supplementary vocabulary for adding further qualitative information.  The main vocabulary is based on a tree structure comprising codes of up to 9
digits (an 8 digit code plus a check digit) associated with a wording that describes the type of supplies, works or services forming the subject of the contract.

The CPV consists of a main vocabulary and a supplementary vocabulary.

The main vocabulary is based on a tree structure comprising codes of up to nine digits associated with a wording that describes the supplies, works or services forming the subject of the contract.

  • The first two digits identify the divisions (XX000000-Y);
  • The first three digits identify the groups (XXX00000-Y);
  • The first four digits identify the classes (XXXX0000-Y);
  • The first five digits identify the categories (XXXXX000-Y);
  • Each of the last three digits gives a greater degree of precision within each category.
  • A ninth digit serves to verify the previous digits.

The supplementary vocabulary may be used to expand the description of the subject of a contract. The items are made up of an alphanumeric code with a corresponding wording allowing further details to be added regarding the
specific nature or destination of the goods to be purchased.

The alphanumeric code is made up of:

  • a first level comprising a letter corresponding to a section;
  • a second level comprising four digits, the first three of which denote a subdivision and the last one being for verification purposes

How to use the CPV

Is the use of the CPV classification mandatory in the standard forms?

The use of the CPV is mandatory in the European Union as from 1 February 2006. The CPV version 2008 is the current CPV version to:

  • Fill the notices of calls for competition
  • Search business opportunities in TED
  • Find contract notices in the archive of TED

How to fill a notice for a call for competition with the CPV?

Contracting authorities should try to find the code that suits their envisaged purchase as accurately as possible. Although in some occasions contracting authorities may find themselves having to select several codes, it is important that they select a single code for the title of the contract notice.  Should the level of accuracy of the CPV be insufficient, then contracting authorities should refer to the division, group, class or category that better describes their intended purchase - a more general code that can be recognised because it has more zeros.

Explanatory notes for divisions 01 to 44, and 48 concerning supplies

The CPV is composed of a Main Vocabulary and of a Supplementary Vocabulary. The Main Vocabulary consists of a list of codes for goods, works and services commonly used in procurement. The Supplementary Vocabulary has been designed to help the contracting authority to describe the subject matter of contract more comprehensively.

To describe the subject of a call for tender, users will choose among the codes listed in the CPV main vocabulary and may add codes of the supplementary vocabulary if further qualitative information is necessary.  Descriptions can be refined using the supplementary vocabulary in Section A to M for products, Section P to U mostly for services, and Section D and F either for products or services.

For instance, if the user wants to buy tables, he will choose the code "39121200-8 Tables" in the Main Vocabulary to define the basic product. The Supplementary Vocabulary may be use to describe further the product:

  • Using the code "FA02-9 For kindergarten use" would mean that the tables would be adapted to children in an educational area;
  • Using the supplementary code "FG19-6 For camping" could mean that the tables would be light and/or foldable for this specific use;
  • If the tables are needed for a special event, and if the contracting authority does not want to buy them, the code "PA01-7 Hire" would meet this particular need.

The material of which the tables should be made, for instance for aesthetic reasons, can be defined using section A of the supplementary vocabulary.

Notice: Each CPV division is based on a tree-structure. Any code of the classification can potentially be used as the subject of a call for tender; however, it is strongly advised to avoid using codes at the top of the tree-structures, as they might be misleading for the economic operators.

Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPVs)

The CPVs explained