2013 WCO IT Conference and Exhibition
World Customs Organization in brief…

Established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council, the main mission of the WCO is to secure the harmonization and standardization of Customs procedures and the development of Customs technique in order to facilitate and secure international trade. The WCO is a setting in which governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and standards, and coordinate Customs policies.

It is also noted for its work in areas covering the development of global standards relating to commodity classification, valuation and rules of origin, as well as compliance issues, the promotion of integrity, and sustainable Customs capacity building initiatives.

The Organization has gained a reputation as a positive force, enabling governments to attain their policy objectives through strengthening cooperation between Customs administrations, and implementing WCO instruments and international best practices. 

Fact file

Established: 1952
Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
Number of Members: 179 countries
Decision-making body: Council
Chairperson of the Council: Josephine Feehily
Secretary General: Kunio Mikuriya
Deputy Secretary General: Sergio Mujica
International Customs Day: 26 January
Working languages: English & French*

*Increased use of Arabic, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish as “working” languages 


To be the voice of Customs and the Global Centre of Excellence for the development and delivery of effective, efficient, and modern Customs procedures and standards, international cooperation, knowledge and capacity building, to meet the needs of governments and society for a better world by being visionary, relevant and indispensable.


As an intergovernmental organization, the WCO is the centre of excellence that provides leadership in Customs matters at the international level and advises Customs administrations worldwide on management practices, tools and techniques to enhance their capacity to implement efficient and effective cross-border controls along with standardized and harmonized procedures to facilitate legitimate trade and travel and to interdict illicit transactions and activities.


  • We are a knowledge-based and action-oriented organization.
  • We believe in transparent, honest, and auditable governance procedures.
  • We are responsive to our Members, stakeholders in trade, and society.
  • We capitalize on technology and innovation.  

Key activities

The responsibilities linked to the international movement of goods, people and means of transport have expanded and will continue to do so, ranging from traditional Customs activities such as the collection of fiscal revenue to activities as diverse as environmental protection, combating drug trafficking and money laundering, and ensuring food safety.
To facilitate the work of Customs at borders, the WCO has developed various instruments and tools, and introduced a number of programmes and initiatives, that significantly enhance Customs operations. 
  • Harmonizing procedures and facilitating trade
  • Securing trade
  • Revenue collection
  • Modernization and capacity building
  • Transparency and cooperation
  • Research and analysis 


International standards to facilitate trade

The modernization of production and delivery systems and the expansion of electronic commerce have rendered economic development highly dependent on swift and predictable Customs clearance.

Improving the efficacy and harmonization of Customs procedures and practices at the international level has consequently become an essential part of the trade facilitation process.

The adoption of international standards leads to simplification and harmonization.  Applied to the management of border transactions, the use of internationally harmonized Customs standards creates a simple and predictable trading environment, promoting compliance with regulations.

Securing the international trade supply chain

Global challenges transcend borders and call for worldwide responses.  Securing trade and combating illegal trafficking and commercial fraud without disrupting legal trade requires a high degree of cooperation between countries, and the application of uniform methods and standards which are recognized and applied by all.

As a frontline border agency dealing primarily with the cross-border movement of goods, people and means of transport, Customs is best placed to ensure the security of international trade, thus contributing to national economic and social development.    

Strategic Goals

GOAL 1 International Cooperation and Information Sharing

GOAL 2 Development of International Standards for Customs Procedures

GOAL 3 Deliver Capacity Building

GOAL 4 Public Health, Safety, and Community Protection

GOAL 5 Security and Facilitation of International Trade & Supply Chain

GOAL 6 Revenue Collection

GOAL 7 Raise the Profile of the WCO, Promotion and Marketing

GOAL 8 Research and Analysis

GOAL 9 Good Governance and Use of Resources

Regional entities

The Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) are the regional centres for collecting and analysing data, as well as disseminating information on trends, modi operandi, routes and significant cases of fraud. The RILO mechanism is supported by the Customs Enforcement Network (CEN), a global data and information-gathering, analysis and communication system for intelligence purposes. The RILO network currently covers all six WCO regions and consists of offices in the following 11 countries: Cameroon, Chile, Germany, Kenya, Korea, Morocco, Poland, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, St. Lucia, and Senegal.

The Regional Offices for Capacity Building (ROCBs) are the cornerstone of the WCO’s regional approach to capacity building. Their mission is to assist Member Customs administrations with their capacity building programmes at a regional level by notably helping them to enhance the coordination of capacity building activities with regional members and the WCO Secretariat, to monitor projects and to improve networking with donor agencies and relevant organizations. The six ROCBs (Argentina, Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates) cover each of the WCO’s six regions.

The Regional Training Centres (RTCs) forms virtually independent entities in charge of providing, in an autonomous way, WCO training at the regional level according to their Members’ training needs. To date, 23 RTCs have been established: six in the Asia Pacific Region (China, Hong Kong-China, India, Japan, Korea and Malaysia), three in the East and Southern Africa Region (Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe), three in the West and Central Africa Region (Burkina Faso, Congo (Republic of) and Nigeria), six in the European Region (Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation and Ukraine), two in the Americas Region (Brazil, and Dominican Republic) and three in North Africa, Near and Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia).

To learn more about the WCO, please visit the website: www.wcoomd.org