The WCO Railway Guidance introduced at UIC International Symposium

03 December 2021

At the invitation of the International Union of Railways (UIC), Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation, introduced the WCO Railway Guidance via online remarks at the UIC International Symposium held in Paris, France on 30 November and 1 December 2021.

This Symposium was dedicated to ‘The Future of the Railways: Making Modal Shift Desirable’.  Participants from the railway sector, including government agencies related to transport, International Organizations, and Railway Companies, shared their experiences and discussed measures to cope with challenges and to better prepare for the future. During the Director’s presentation, he explained that the WCO has recently been engaged with railway sector international organizations in discussions on railway transportation from the Customs perspective, particularly on issues such as Transit Declaration, Electronic Data Interchange, Cargo inspection with Non-Intrusive Inspection, and Passenger Control etc., and that the WCO had prepared the Railway Guidance as a specific tool for railway transportation.

In the ensuing panel discussion, the Director highlighted that, to support global railway supply chains from the Customs perspective, building a global standard for seamless and safe Customs procedures for border crossings and transit was critical and it should be based on national experiences and practices, and applied in all countries along the whole route. He echoed that many challenges need to be considered and overcome, such as the coordination of Customs procedures and the low level of digitization in railway transportation. Regarding the digitization of Customs procedures, the Director explained that infrastructure is needed, including hardware systems and a harmonized dataset to make the exchange of information efficient. The Director expressed that, in the near future, he expected that as national experiences are sufficiently accumulated, railway digitization would be improved with a harmonized railway dataset. Finally, the Director underscored the importance of cooperation among Customs and between Customs and private sector stakeholders, including railway sector international organizations.  He invited participants contributions for the further development of the WCO Railway Guidance so it reflects recent experiences and is to better able to address new challenges.