Recommendations Related to Procedures and Facilitation

One of the most practical instruments for securing the highest degree of harmonization is Recommendations that have been adopted by the WCO Council. While Recommendations are not binding instruments they can be formally adopted with the condition for application that implicitly commits administrations, insofar as possible, to implementing its provisions.

With regard to Customs procedures and practices the Recommendations on matters of Customs Technique are mainly intended

  • to promote co-operation between Customs administrations;
  • to standardize Members' practices regarding duty relieves, repayment or remission;
  • to facilitate the international transport of goods and travel and tourism;
  • to promote the harmonized use of information technology;
  • to facilitate and expedite the implementation of certain international Conventions;
  • to simplify and harmonize Customs documents;
  • to ensure that adequate legal remedies are available to the taxpayer.

It was decided, at the Council's 21st Session, that "Recommendations lending themselves to such action should be brought to the knowledge of non-Member countries" through the United Nations Regional Economic Commissions.

At its 131st/132nd Sessions, the Permanent Technical Committee agreed that Customs Technique Recommendations should comply with the following principles :

  • Customs Technique Recommendations should not be put on an equal footing with treaties within the meaning of the Vienna Convention on the law of treaties.


  • Where a Recommendation contains more than one basic idea, each should be the subject of separate paragraph, a "RECOMMENDS" or an Annex.


  • If necessary, Recommendations should specify towards whom an obligation is being assumed.


  • With regard to successive Recommendations dealing with the same subject, it is necessary toreconsider, in each case, whether or not the new Recommendation should incorporate the substance of the earlier version.


  • It is for the Council to decide, on the basis of proposals made by the competent Committee, whether an existing Recommendation should be retained when a new Recommendation on the same subject has been accepted.


  • The conditions of application of a Recommendation are a matter for the State of Customs or Economic Unions accepting it, on the understanding that the party concerned is implicitly committed to implementing, insofar as possible, the provisions it has accepted. In any event, a State or Customs or Economic Union should not accept a Recommendation if unwilling to implement its main objectives.

At its 77th/78th Sessions, the Council adopted the Permanent Technical Committee's proposal for expanding the audience for Customs Technique Recommendations by making it possible for Council Members and non-Members of the Council as well as for Customs or Economic Unions to accept those Recommendations.

Situation Regarding Acceptances of WCO Recommendations (18 May 2016)


Recommendations Concerning Co-operation Between Administrations

  1. The Communication of Information Concerning the Customs Status of Goods (22 May 1963) [ru]
  2. Facilitate the Temporary Exportation of Goods Sent from one Country for Manufacture, Processing or Repair in Another (3 December 1963)


Recommendations Concerning Duty Reliefs, Repayment and Remission

  1. Tax-Free Shops (16 June 1960)
  2. Free Admission of Removable Articles Imported on Transfer of Residence (5 December 1962) [ru]

  3. The Refund of Import Duties and Taxes on Shortages (5 December 1962)

  4. Reimported Goods (6 June 1967) [ru]

  5. The Free Admission of Gift Consignments (11 June 1968)

  6. To Expedite the Forwarding of Relief Consignments in the Event of Disasters (8 June 1970) [ru]

  7.  The Customs Treatment of Products Imported for Testing (5 June 1972) [ru]


Recommendations Concerning Transport, Travel and Tourism

    1. Annex: Customs Declaration for Registered Baggage
    2. Customs Declaration for Registered Baggage : Notice to Passengers
  1. Customs Sealing Systems in Connection with the International Transport of Goods (11 June 1968) [ru]
    1. Appendix- Technical Specifications  
  2. Guidelines on Dual Channel Systems in Airports - Preamble [ru]
  3. Recommendation on CSDs (Container Security Devices) (June 2013)
  4. Recommendation of the Customs Co-Operation Council Concerning the Use of Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) for Efficient and Effective Customs Control (June 2015).
  5. Recommendation of the Customs Co-Operation Council on the Guiding Principles for Data Quality (June 2015).

Other Recommendations

  1. The Single Goods Declaration (26 June 1990)  
  2. Unique Consignment Reference (UCR) (26 June 2004) [ru]
  3. The recommendation of the Customs Co-operation Council on the dematerialization of supporting documents (June 2012)