The knowledge of biomes as large-scale ecosystem units has benefited from advances in the ecological and evolutionary sciences. Despite this, a universal biome classification system that also allows a standardized nomenclature has not yet been achieved. We propose a comprehensive and hierarchical classification method and nomenclature to define biomes based on a set of bioclimatic variables and their corresponding vegetation structure and ecological functionality. This method uses three hierarchical biome levels: Zonal biome (Macrobiome), Biome and Regional biome. Biome nomenclature incorporates both bioclimatic and vegetation characterization (i.e. formation). Bioclimate characterization basically includes precipitation rate and thermicity. The description of plant formations encompasses vegetation structure, physiognomy and foliage phenology. Since the available systems tend to underestimate the complexity and diversity of tropical ecosystems, we have tested our approach in the biogeographical area of the Neotropics. Our proposal includes a bioclimatic characterization of the main 16 Neotropical plant formations identified. This method provides a framework that (1) enables biome distribution and changes to be projected from bioclimatic data; (2) allows all biomes to be named according to a globally standardized scheme; and (3) integrates various ecological biome approaches with the contributions of the European and North American vegetation classification systems. Taxonomic reference: Jørgensen et al. (2014). Dedication: This work is dedicated to the memory of and in homage to Prof. Dr. Salvador Rivas-Martínez.