A standardised terminology for describing medical devices can enable safe and unambiguous exchange of information. Proposed changes to EU-wide medical devices regulations mandate the use of such a system. This article reviews two important classification systems for medical devices in the UK. The Global Medical Device Nomenclature (GMDN) provides a classification system specifically for medical devices and diagnostics, and facilitates data exchange between manufacturers and regulators. SNOMED CT is the terminology of choice in the NHS for communicating, sharing and storing information about patients' healthcare episodes. Harmonisation of GMDN and SNOMED CT will encourage use of single terminology throughout the lifetime of a device; from regulatory approval through clinical use and post-marketing surveillance. Manufacturers will be required to register medical devices with a European device database (Eudamed) and to fit certain devices with a Unique Device Identifier; both are efforts to improve transparency and traceability of medical devices. Successful implementation of these elements depends on having a consistent nomenclature for medical devices.