The World Customs Organization (WCO)

25 February 2022


The World Customs Organization (WCO), established in 1952 as the Customs Co-peration Council (CCC) is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. 
Today, the WCO represents 184 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. As the global centre of Customs expertise, the WCO is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and can rightly call itself the voice of the international Customs community.

The WCO develops international standards, fosters cooperation and builds capacity to facilitate legitimate trade, to secure fair revenue collection and protect society, providing leadership, guidance and support to Customs administrations. Below are some of the missions stated in the CCC Convention:

  • To study all questions relating to co-operation in Customs matters,
  • To examine the technical aspects of Customs systems with a view to attaining the highest possible degree of harmony and uniformity, 
  • To prepare Conventions and amendments to Conventions,
  • To make recommendations to ensure the uniform interpretation and application of the Conventions,
  • To furnish information or advice,
  • To help its Members to respond to modern challenges,
  • To co-operate with other inter-governmental organizations.

Bringing Customs together for a safer and more prosperous world. Borders divide, customs connects.


The World Customs Organization develops international standards, fosters cooperation and builds capacity to facilitate legitimate trade, to secure a fair revenue collection and to protect society, providing leadership, guidance and support to Customs administrations.

The WCO operates on the basis of cooperation and consensus. It aims to be a bridge between Members at various levels of economic development and in partnership with Customs’ natural partners, whether they are from the private or public sector.


WCO Council

All WCO Members are represented. It is the highest decision-making body. It provides oversight and strategic direction for the Organization during its annual meeting.

Policy Commission

It is composed of 30 members elected by the Council. It acts as a dynamic steering group to the Council and meets twice a year.

Working Bodies

The various working bodies (committees, sub-committees, working groups, expert groups, etc.) study problems and offer solutions for improving Customs techniques and legislation.
The most important committees operating under the Council and the Policy Commission are listed below
  • Enforcement Committee
  • Permanent Technical Committee
  • Harmonized System Committee
  • Technical Committee on Customs Valuation
  • Technical Committee on Rules of Origin
  • Capacity Building Committee
WCO Tools and Instruments

Since its establishment in 1952, the WCO’s various working bodies have developed, and continue to develop, a range of international instruments that guide the regulatory development and Customs reform and modernization initiatives of WCO Members to facilitate trade, ensure compliance of trade operators, and secure the trade supply chain. Key words here are efficiency and predictability.

The conventions are listed below:
Name Status Contracting Parties
Convention establishing a Customs Co-operation Council [ar] ** [ru] Signed in Brussels on 15 December 1950, entered into force on 4 November 1952 SG0212E1a
International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System [ar ]** [ru] Entered into force on 1 January 1988 NG0264Ea
Convention on Nomenclature for the classification of goods in Customs tariffs (article XVI amended) and Protocol of Amendment thereto Entered into force on 11 September 1959 NG0247E1a
Customs Convention on ECS carnets for commercial samples Entered into force on 3 October 1957 PG0134E1

Customs Convention on the temporary importation of packings Entered into force on 15 March 1962 PG0131E1
Customs Convention on the temporary importation of professional equipment Entered into force on 1 July 1962 PG0129E1
Customs Convention concerning facilities for the importation of goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs, meetings or similar events Entered into force on 13 July 1962 PG0133E1
Customs Convention on the ATA carnet for the temporary admission of goods (ATA Convention) Entered into force on 30 July 1963 PG0233E1
Customs Convention concerning welfare material for seafarers Entered into force on 11 December 1965 PG0127E1
Customs Convention on the temporary importation of scientific equipment Entered into force on 5 September 1969 PG0128E1
Customs Convention on the temporary importation of pedagogic material Entered into force on 10 September 1971 PG0130E1
*Customs Convention on the international transit of goods (ITI Convention) Done on 7 June 1971 PG0132E1
International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures (Kyoto Convention) Entered into force on 25 September 1974 PG0248E1
International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures (Kyoto Convention) as amended Entered into force on 3 February 2006 PG0316Ea
International Convention on mutual administrative assistance for the prevention, investigation and repression of Customs offences (Nairobi Convention) [ar] [ru] Entered into force on 21 May 1980 EG0019E1
*International Convention on mutual administrative assistance in Customs matters (Johannesburg Convention) [ar] Done on 27 June 2003 EG0014E1
Convention on Temporary Admission (Istanbul Convention) [ar][pt][es][ru][ch] Entered into force on 27 November 1993 PG0302Eb
Customs Convention on Containers, 1972 [ar] Entered into force on 6 December 1975 PG0313Ea
Convention on the Valuation of Goods for Customs Purposes (BDV) Entered into force on 28 July 1953  

Türkiye adopted 7 of the 17 conventions which are currently in force within the WCO.


WCO Members, three-quarters of which are developing countries, are responsible for managing more than 98% of world trade. They are divided into 6 regions. There are three main regional offices operating within the WCO.

Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices

The exchange of intelligence at national, regional and international levels is a critical mechanism employed by Customs authorities to create conditions for more efficient enforcement actions and controls and to secure the optimum use of available resources. At the strategic level the WCO has incorporated the aim of intelligence exchange among all stakeholders, recognising the contribution this objective has in furthering the protection of society, public health and safety. Therefore, in 1987, the first Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) was established with the intent of creating a Global Intelligence Network. Today the RILO network has grown to 11 offices providing effective coverage throughout all six WCO regions.

Regional Training Centres

Regional Training Centres constitute one of the key components of the regional approach. Forming virtually independent and autonomous entities, the regions are best placed to identify and respond to their Members’ training needs. This type of training, which is broader in scope than that offered to individual countries, makes it possible to pool and optimize resources within a single region. Such centres offer a number of advantages: they enable Customs officials from neighbouring countries to forge links with one another and, they facilitate the follow-up of WCO programmes in a region.

To date, twenty-nine (29) Regional Training Centres (RTCs) have been established: seven in the Asia Pacific Region (China; Fiji; Hong Kong, China; India; Japan, Korea; Malaysia), four in the East and Southern Africa Region (Kenya; Mauritius; South Africa; Zimbabwe), three in the West and Central Africa Region (Burkina Faso; Congo (Rep. of); Nigeria), seven in the European Region (Azerbaijan; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; North Macedonia; Russian Federation; Ukraine), two in the Americas Region (Brazil; Dominican Republic) and six in North Africa, Near and Middle East (Egypt; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Saudi Arabia, Tunisia).

Regional Offices for Capacity Building

The Regional Offices for Capacity Building (ROCB) are the cornerstone of the Region's approach to capacity building as laid out in its Capacity Building Strategy.

Their mission is to assist member Customs administrations with their capacity building programs at regional level by helping them:
  • to identify more accurate capacity building needs and possible solutions;
  • to enhance the coordination of capacity building activities with regional members and the WCO Secretariat;
  • to monitor projects;
  • to improve networking with donor agencies and relevant organizations;
  • to use resources more cost-effectively; and
  • to coordinate the use and implementation of WCO tools and practices in the Region.

The General Council of WCO held its first meeting on January 26, 1953, after the entry into force of the “Convention establishing the Customs Cooperation Council”, In this context, the date of the first meeting, January 26, is celebrated as World Customs Day every year within the framework of a theme determined by the WCO. Some slogans/themes listed in below.

2023: Nurturing the next generation: promoting a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride in Customs.
The WCO is dedicating 2023 to Nurturing the next generation: promoting a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride in Customs. This is in line with the efforts to place human capital, and especially the new generation, at the heart of this transformative process.

2022: Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation
The WCO is dedicating 2022 to scaling up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing a Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem. WCO Members will have the opportunity to showcase their efforts and activities in this domain.

2021: Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience
The WCO is dedicating 2021 to the united efforts of Customs to emerge from the coronavirus crisis and support people and businesses by strengthening the global supply chain, reinforcing collaboration, harnessing technology and putting “people” at the centre of the transformation process.

2020: Customs fostering Sustainability
The WCO is dedicating 2020 to the contribution of Customs towards a sustainable future where social, economic, health and environmental needs are at the heart of our actions.

2019: SMART borders
The WCO is dedicating 2019 to the swift and smooth cross-border movement of goods, people and means of transport, with the slogan “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.”


Ms. Esengül Şirin ATEŞAĞAOĞLU is Trade Counselor in the Embassy of the Republic of Türkiye in Brussels, is also responsible for relations with the WCO.

Ms. Özlem SOYSANLI is a Senior Technical Officer in the Compliance and Facilitation Directorate at the WCO Secretariat.

In addition, Mr. Eser ÇENGEL who was appointed as a technical attaché on behalf of our Ministry at the Regional Capacity Building Office of the European Region of the WCO (Europe-ROCB) located in Baku in 2017, was elected as a Director of the ROCB Office in 2019. His term of office ended in September 2022.