Please choose your preferred language
English : English
French : français
Remember My Selection
Order WCO publications online
The online version of the Harmonized System Database
WCO learning platform
The Customs Enforcement Network
An application exploiting open source information
WCO Technology Network
WCO Information & Intelligence Centre
You are here:
World Customs Organization
Enforcement and Compliance
Activities and Programmes
Drug trafficking has an enormous impact on the health and safety, security and economic development of States. It is closely linked to other illegal activities, and its proceeds are used by organised criminal groups and terrorists.
Pollution of air, water, land, or destruction of endangered species poses ruinous threat to the sustainable development and the health of human beings. Environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem.
The changes in the strategic landscape of Customs’ operating environment together with the long-term growth in trade and travel volumes have affected the way Customs administrations are managed and approach their tasks. These developments, together with the increasing uncertainty, have led many administrations to seek a more structured and systematic way to manage risks.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) offences now affect everything that is manufactured and has a commercial value, touching all sectors from horticulture to the auto industry to pharmaceuticals. The offenders keep pace with the latest technology and with trends in the global market.
Customs administrations collect substantial amounts of revenue that fund government services. Revenue collection can include mechanisms such as import duties, excise taxes, VAT, and carbon taxes. Customs administrations endeavor to deter commercial fraud that can result in lower revenue collection. Typical commercial fraud techniques include undervaluation, misclassification, misuse of origin and preferential duties, and drawback fraud.
Terrorism, proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction, trafficking of small arms and explosives, and illicit diversion of dual use goods pose a serious threat not only to security and safety of people, but also to economic development, political stability and social cohesion of countries across the globe.
The plundering of cultural property is one of the oldest forms of organised cross-border crime and has become a worldwide phenomenon high on the list of priority concerns for WCO Member Administrations. In this regard, it is widely recognised that international borders still offer the best opportunity to intercept stolen cultural artifacts, and to that end Customs plays a fundamental role in the fight against the unauthorised export of cultural items.
The main driving forces behind crime are the lure of profit. However, the origin of this profit should be disguised in order to be able to use it in the subsequent operations. Thus, criminal organizations face problems related to making the proceeds of crime appear as deriving from the legitimate sources. The opaqueness of international finance (tax havens, bogus companies and the anonymity of international transactions) offers criminals a vast range of options. Customs administrations have an essential role to play in anti-money laundering activities because of their presence at borders, legal powers, knowledge of trade, and experience.
All Customs administrations are under increasing pressure to keep abreast of change: to clear goods and people more effectively and efficiently while protecting society from the threats posed by illicit trade. To effectively manage this dual responsibility, Customs is also becoming increasingly reliant on complex, ubiquitous, high-speed networked computing systems. Unfortunately, these technological innovations are also being exploited by criminals who are taking advantage of the convenience and anonymity that modern technologies offer in order to commit a diverse range of criminal activities.