World Customs Organization declares 2016 to be the year of Digital Customs

The Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, announced today that 2016 will be dedicated to promoting the digitalization of Customs processes under the slogan “Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement.” WCO Members will have the opportunity to showcase and further promote their use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The term Digital Customs refers to any automated or electronic activity that contributes to the effectiveness, efficiency, and coordination of Customs activities, such as automated Customs clearance systems, the Single Window concept, electronic exchange of information, websites to communicate information and promote transparency, and the use of smart phones.

This new era of Digital Customs has transformed the way that Customs operates. Ultimately, it ensures progression – the enhanced ability of Customs Administrations to communicate, process goods, receive and exchange information, coordinate border activities, collaborate on law enforcement actions, and promote transparency. Improved technologies thus have the ability to positively impact and transform the Customs landscape through:

  • Improved compliance as a result of increased access to regulatory information and functions, as well as services, on the part of all international trade stakeholders; • Faster clearance times for legitimate trade;
  • Enhanced coordination between Customs units, as well as between Customs and other border regulatory agencies at the national and international level;
  • Increased transparency in regulatory processes and decision-making; • The use of performance measurement to improve Customs procedures and levels of integrity, such as through the techniques presented in the WCO Performance Measurement Contracts (PMC) Guide;
  • Enhanced detection of irregularities and illicit consignments through the collection and analysis of data.

Such positive outcomes will contribute significantly towards the realization of Customs’ objectives, including improved revenue collection, border security, the collection of trade statistics, and trade facilitation. “Border agencies are increasingly embracing digitalisation to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency.

The WCO has an extensive portfolio of instruments and tools to support WCO Members in their efforts to further adopt Digital Customs.” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.

“Over the course of 2016, I invite all WCO Members to promote and share information on how they are implementing and using digital technologies to advance and achieve their objectives.” Mr. Mikuriya added.

The WCO’s annual theme will be launched on International Customs Day, which is celebrated annually by the global Customs community on 26 January in honour of the inaugural session of the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) which took place on 26 January 1953.

The WCO invites the Customs community to mark 26 January 2016 in their diary.