International Customs Day

Established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council
Créée en 1952 sous le nom de Conseil de coopération douanière

The Secretary General

Brussels, 12 November 2015

Dear Director General,

                              I am pleased to inform you that International Customs Day (ICD) on 26 January 2016 will be devoted to the ‘Digital Customs’ theme with the slogan ‘Progressive Engagement.’ WCO Members will thus have the opportunity to promote the Digital Customs innovations that they have implemented.

                              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, Web sites to communicate information and promote transparency, and the use of smart phones.

                              Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is central to Digital Customs. Not only is it ubiquitous in our offices, it is the primary method of communicating information to every corner of the planet. ICT enables our use of automated clearance systems to receive declarations, perform risk management and selectivity, undertake validation and processing, and clear consignments. It entails the establishment of Single Window systems which are a leading trade facilitation innovation.

                              A roadmap for achieving Digital Customs is contained in Chapter 7 of the General Annex Guidelines to the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention under “Application of Information and Communication Technology.”

                              This new era of Digital Customs has transformed the way that Customs operates. Ultimately, it enables progressive engagement – 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. ICT leads thus to many positive outcomes for Customs:

• Improved compliance through increased accessibility to regulatory information and functions, as well as services, by those engaged in international trade;
• 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 integrity, such as through the techniques presented in the WCO Performance Measurement Contracts (PMC) Guide;
• Enhanced detection of irregularities and illicit consignments through effective collection and analysis of data.

                              All of these outcomes result in the achievement of Customs’ objectives, including improved revenue collection, border security, collection of trade statistics, and trade facilitation.

                              It is customary for WCO Members to award WCO Certificates of Merit on ICD. A maximum of 20 WCO Certificates of Merit may be awarded on my behalf to Customs officials and representatives from the public and private sector who, in your opinion, have demonstrated their commitment to the Digital Customs theme.

                              Certificates should be ordered online by visiting the ‘International Customs Day 2016’ section under ‘About Us’ on the WCO Web site ( Please note that you will only be able to order Certificates from the above mentioned link after you have logged in.

                              The WCO will send the Certificates by post. To ensure that they reach your administration before 26 January 2016, please place your orders as soon as possible, but no later than 19 December 2015, as delivery cannot be guaranteed after this date due to high postal volumes at this time of the year.

                              It would be appreciated if you could inform the WCO of your ICD 2016 activities as soon as possible after 26 January, to enable us to highlight them accordingly. Digital photos illustrating your events should be in high definition (minimum 300dpi) and sent in jpeg or gif format. All information and photos should be sent to the Communications Service:

                              I wish to thank you in advance for your support and efforts in making this day a success, and in ensuring that the theme is promoted throughout the year.

                              Yours sincerely,


                              Kunio Mikuriya