World Customs Organization

The global centre of Customs expertise

Customs is recognized as a critical institution to good governance, prosperity and the protection of society.

The World Customs Organization (WCO) aids the national economic wealth and social protection of its Members by promoting an honest, transparent and predictable Customs environment. This permits legitimate international trade to flourish and effective action to be taken against illegal activity.

Our mission
Established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council, the WCO
is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance
the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. With
159 Member Governments, it is the only intergovernmental worldwide
organization competent in Customs matters.

In order to fulfil this mission, the World Customs Organization :

  • Establishes, maintains, supports and promotes international instruments for the harmonization and uniform application of simplified and effective Customs systems and procedures governing the movement of commodities, people and conveyances across Customs frontiers ;

  • Reinforces Members’ efforts to secure compliance with their legislation, by endeavouring to maximize the level of effectiveness of Members’ co-operation with each other and with international organizations in order to combat Customs and other transnational offences ;

  • Assists Members in their efforts to meet the challenges of the modern business environment and adapt to changing circumstances, by promoting communication and co-operation among Members and with other international organizations, and by fostering integrity, human resource development, transparency, improvements in the management and working methods of Customs administrations and the sharing of best practices.

Brief history
The history of the WCO began in 1947 when the thirteen European Governments represented in the Committee for European Economic Co-operation agreed to set up a Study Group. This Group examined the possibility of establishing one or more inter-European Customs Unions based on the principles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

In 1948, the Study Group set up two committees – an Economic Committee and a Customs Committee. The Economic Committee was the predecessor of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Customs Committee became the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).

In 1952, the Convention formally establishing the CCC came into force. The Council is the governing body of the CCC and the inaugural Session of the Council was held in Brussels on 26 January 1953. Representatives of seventeen European countries attended the first
Council Session of the CCC.

After years of membership growth, in 1994 the Council adopted the working name World Customs Organization, to more clearly reflect its transition to a truly global intergovernmental institution. It is now the voice of 159 Customs administrations which operate on all continents and represent all stages of economic development. Today, WCO Members are responsible for processing more than 95 % of all international trade.

How are we organized ?
The WCO is a forum where delegates representing a wide variety of Members can tackle Customs issues on an equal footing. Each Member has one representative and one vote. It offers its
Members a wide range of Conventions and other international instruments. WCO Members can also take advantage of the technical assistance and training services delivered either directly by the
Secretariat or provided with its involvement.

The WCO is directed by the full Council and the Policy Commission (24 Members), with financial advice from the Finance Committee (17 Members). The WCO works through its Committees and its Secretariat to complete the work set forth in the key activities of the WCO Strategic Plan, which is approved annually by the Council. The principal Committees of the WCO are the :

  • PERMANENT TECHNICAL COMMITTEE, including the Information Management Sub-Committee
  • ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE
  • HARMONIZED SYSTEM COMMITTEE, including the Harmonized System Review Sub-Committee and the Scientific Sub-Committee
  • TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON CUSTOMS VALUATION
  • TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON RULES OF ORIGIN.

Structure of the Secretariat
The current Secretary General is Mr. Michel Danet (France) and he is assisted by three other elected officials. They are the Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya (Japan), the Director of Compliance and Facilitation, Mr. Jouko Lempiäinen (Finland) and the The World Customs Organization Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, Mr. Holm Kappler (United States). Approximately 60 expert technical staff, who are either appointed to the WCO or who are technical attachés on secondment from Member administrations, provide a high level of technical expertise to the various programmes and projects of the WCO. Locally recruited staff provide secretarial, translation, interpretation and general support services.

The two official languages of the WCO are English and French, but Spanish is also used for some technical meetings.

WCO activities
For many years, the WCO has been making progress on the harmonization of international Customs procedures. These efforts have met with considerable success. The WCO developed and introduced the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which is used world-wide as the basis for classifying goods and for the collection of Customs revenue.

In June 1999, a revised International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (the Kyoto Convention) was approved by the Council. The revised Convention is a response to the growth in international cargo, the incredible developments in
information technology and a highly competitive international business environment based on quality service and customer satisfaction, all of which have created a conflict with traditional Customs methods and procedures.

The WCO also administers the WTO Valuation Agreement and has recently developed Harmonized Rules of Origin which have been forwarded for consideration by the WTO in Geneva for eventual use by its Members.

Working closely together, the WCO, WTO and UNCTAD are co-ordinating their efforts to remove the remaining barriers to trade by simplifying and harmonizing Customs procedures and processes throughout the world. Combining the influence of the WTO, UNCTAD and the WCO will make a significant contribution to both trade facilitation and trade compliance. This commitment to partnership is further reflected in the close working relationship that the WCO enjoys with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). A Co-operation Agreement between the two organizations seeks to further standardize and improve the level of Customs capabilities world-wide.

Customs modernization
Although significant progress has been made, efficient and effective performance is not spread evenly among all Customs administrations, or in all regions of the world. In fact, many Customs administrations are still suffering the ill-effects of inefficiency and corruption. To address this issue, the WCO provides extensive technical assistance to Members and has developed a Customs Reform and Modernization Programme (CRM) which is designed to assist Member administrations which seek to become more self-reliant through better use of resources, strengthening of management capabilities, and designing appropriate and efficient Customs processes and procedures.

Disclaimer
Listing in WorldSecurity-index does not imply any endorsement by the WCO of any products.

 


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September 2017

World Customs Organization 22nd September 2017

WCO supports Indonesian Customs to strengthen its IPR border enforcement   With the sponsorship of the Japanese Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF J[more]


November 2014

World Customs Organization 21st November 2014

World Customs Organization dedicates 2015 to Coordinated Border Management The Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, announced today that 2[more]


February 2008

World Customs Organization 28th February 2008

The WCO in the 21st Century: Inventing our Future - Brussels: 27-28 March 2008 The World Customs Organization (WCO) is organizing the World Custom[more]


May 2008

World Customs Organization 15th May 2008

WCO welcomes GB commitment to combat counterfeiting and piracy The Secretary General of the WCO welcomes the G8 leaders’ renewed political s[more]


August 2006

World Customs Organization 17th August 2006

Launch of the WCO Harmonized System 2007 - Brussels, 26-27 September 2006 The World Customs Organization (WCO) will be organising another of its su[more]


World Customs Organization 14th August 2006

Tobacco and cigarette smuggling remain a growing global problem. The 2005 annual report from the World Customs Organization on Customs and Tobacco [more]


July 2006

World Customs Organization 26th July 2006

Customs and Drugs 2005: The annual definitive report The World Customs Organization has released its definitive 2005 report on Customs and Drugs, a[more]


May 2006

World Customs Organization 3rd May 2006

WCO BOLSTERS ANTI-COUNTERFEITING EFFORTS The WCO and the ICCE – the Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe Middle East and Africa – [more]


October 2004

World Customs Organization 29th October 2004

UNICRI, EUROPOL and SECI Regional Center to battle Criminal Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction SECI Regional Center hosted at Bucharest (October[more]


World Customs Organization 4th October 2004

Drug Trafficking Issues along the Silk Route : Meeting of Heads of Customs Administrations of WCO Members The Meeting of Heads of Customs Admin[more]


July 2004

World Customs Organization 29th July 2004

The onset of the 21st century has raised new challenges for Customs administrations in the international trade arena. Customs is taking on more an[more]


June 2004

World Customs Organization 25th June 2004

THE WCO ISSUES ITS "2003 CUSTOMS AND DRUGS" REPORT COMBATING ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IS A LONG-TERM STRUGGLE Brussels, 25 June 2004 – Today, th[more]


July 2004

World Customs Organization 2nd July 2004

WCO Council adopts Second Resolution on Security and Facilitation and creates new High-Level Strategic Group Directors General meeting [more]


February 2004

World Customs Organization 5th February 2004

Only four weeks left to register for the 2004 WCO IT Conference & Exhibition! Do not miss this unique opportunity to discuss highly topical Customs[more]


July 2003

World Customs Organization 16th July 2003

WCO Council approves several initiatives to improve the security and facilitation of the international Trade Supply Chain The World Customs Organi[more]


May 2003

World Customs Organization 27th May 2003

The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) addresses the Ministers for Foreign Affairs from 55 countries at the Ministerial Confere[more]


World Customs Organization 9th May 2003

CUSTOMS ADMINISTRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD ON LOOKOUT FOR STOLEN IRAQI ANTIQUITIES The WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr Kunio Mikuriya said today tha[more]


April 2003

World Customs Organization 3rd April 2003

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL; COUNTER TERRORISM COMMITTEE; SPECIAL MEETING WITH INTERNATIONAL, REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS; Thur[more]


World Customs Organization 3rd April 2003

The WCO working jointly with INTERPOL During late 2002, the WCO working jointly with INTERPOL, established Operation ANDES to assist national custo[more]


February 2003

World Customs Organization 25th February 2003

FUTURE SECURITY AND FACILITATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE SUPPLY CHAIN TAKES SHAPE UNDER GUIDANCE OF CUSTOMS TASK FORCE At the World Customs Org[more]


January 2003

World Customs Organization 28th January 2003

WORLD CUSTOMS ORGANIZATION TO TELL WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM OF CONCERN AT THE SCALE OF GLOBAL COUNTERFEITING Delegates to the World Economic Forum in D[more]


World Customs Organization 13th January 2003

The 48th Session of the World Customs Organization’s Policy Commission (PC) The 48th Session of the World Customs Organization’s Poli[more]




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World Customs Organization

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