Every year on January 26th, International Customs Day recognizes the role of custom officials and agencies in maintaining the flow of goods across the world’s borders. On this day, members of the World Customs Organization (WCO) also showcase their efforts and activities.
Customs is the agency in a country responsible for collecting tariffs. Customs also controls the flow of goods into and out of the country. These goods can be anything from animals to hazardous materials to personal items. The WCO helps make customs administrations around the world more efficient. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, the organization consists of 182 members from all over the world. Three-quarters of the members are from developing countries. They are responsible for managing more than 98% of world trade.
The WCO believes that while borders divide, customs connect. Their mission is to provide leadership, guidance, and support to customs administrations. They also believe that customs helps to meet the economic, social, and environmental needs of our planet. In turn, customs contribute to a sustainable future.
The Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) held its inaugural session on January 26th, 1953. Members from seventeen European countries attended the event in Brussels. In 1983, the CCC created International Customs Day. The day celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first CCC session. In 1994, the CCC was renamed the WCO. Today, the WCO is the only international body dedicated exclusively to international customs and border control matters.
- Recent themes for the day have included:
2020: Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity, and the Planet.
- 2019: SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel, and Transport.
- 2018: A Secure business environment for economic development.
- 2017: Data Analysis for Effective Border Management
- 2016: Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement.
- 2015: Coordinated Border Management – An inclusive approach for connecting stakeholders.