Common Procurement Vocabulary

From Open Risk Manual


Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) is the European statistical classification of goods, services and works procured by the public sector. It is established by law[1]. The CPV consists of a Main Vocabulary and a Supplementary Vocabulary, both available in 22 official EU languages.


In order to make Public Procurement more transparent and efficient across the European Union, in 1993 the European Commission drafted the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV). Towards an effective EU Single Market, the Commission aimed to encourage suppliers and contracting authorities/entities to adopt best practices and use electronic communication and information technologies to provide all the relevant information, so as to ensure best value for money in public procurement. In principle, the CPV system helps to meet different functions:

  • The assignation of a CPV code seeks to increase transparency of contract opportunities and, thus, to favour competition in procurement procedures and the pursuit of better value for money.
  • The system introduces no obligations, requirements or restrictions, but simply provides economic operators with a common, unified and multilingual reference.
  • Avoiding language barriers by having the CPV translated into all official EU languages (thus reducing the risk of errors in the translation of notices).
  • The succinct identification of the object of contracts on the basis of the work, supply or service to be provided, enables economic operators to more rapidly and easily identify those tender procedures in which they wish to participate, which may be particularly relevant for SMEs and for encouraging cross-border tenders.

Usage and Legal Status

The use of the CPV codes became mandatory as from 1 February 2006. The most recent version of the CPV is used for publication of tender notices in the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). References to the nomenclature of the CPV appear in the 2004 Public Procurement Directives. The 2014 Directive gives greater prominence to the CPV system.

Official Statistics Function

  • All contracts subjected to the regime of the 2014 Directive need to be the object of notices that have CPVs assigned, thus allowing fundamental economic data on how the contracting authorities make their purchases to be determined.
  • Allowing the knowledge of data referring to
    • the amounts of awarded contracts
    • the award procedures and deadlines applied
    • any contract modifications
    • whether there have been withdrawals, appeals, and so on
  • As the CPV is compatible with business monitoring systems used globally, the data obtained can be compared with those produced by other nomenclatures used on an international level.


The establishment of the CPV can be traced back to several international nomenclatures used to classify products[2]

The standardization aim of the CPV is achieved by means of a single classification system for public procurement. The terms used by the contracting authorities and entities to describe the subject of contracts are drawn from a vocabulary delivered as the CPV Classification, a hierarchical taxonomy that consists of about 9454 terms, listing goods, works and services commonly used in public Procurement.

CPV History

In 1993 the European Commission decided to commence work on drafting its own nomenclature. Since 1993, the Common Procurement Vocabulary has undergone several revisions, mainly between 1996 and 1998; 1998 and 2001; and the last between 2004 and 2007. Work on the preparation of the nomenclature culminated with the European Commission’s adoption of Recommendation 96/527/EC on the use of the CPV for describing the subject matter of public contracts. This Recommendation led to Regulation 2195/2002 which approved the CPV, which was subsequently modified by Regulations 2151/2003 and 213/2008 as well as Regulation 596/2009.

  • The first version of the CPV was published in 1993.
  • The second was issued in June 1994.
  • The CPV 1998 version was in use from 1 January 1999.
  • Between 1998 and 2001 the CPV was further revised in the light of practice and experience. The update was largely based on the suggestions and comments made by direct users of the CPV. The proposed amendments were subjected to wide consultation held in the 11 official languages on the [3].
  • Between 2004 and 2007, the CPV was revised in order to change the old materials-driven structure to a product-type-driven structure. Several codes were deleted or transferred and new ones created. These amendments affected the Main Vocabulary and the Supplementary Vocabulary. The new version of the CPV comprised 9454 codes; during the revision 3590 new codes or new descriptions were created, 4935 codes were deleted and 2462 descriptions were deleted. Major changes or additions occurred for instance in the field of defence procurement, medical supplies, sports equipment and musical instruments.

See Also


  1. Regulation No 2151/2003
  2. Public Procurement in the European Union, Guide to the Common Procurement Vocabulary
  3. SIMAP Internet site