WCO issues a Secretariat Note on practical steps to facilitate and secure the cross-border movement of COVID-19 vaccines by Customs

26 February 2021

On 25 February 2021 the WCO Secretariat published a new Secretariat Note providing guidance with regard to the implementation by Members of the twelve measures outlined in the December 2020 Council Resolution on the Role of Customs in facilitating the cross-border movement of situationally critical medicines and vaccines. The Secretariat Note also provides information on WCO instruments and tools that can support the implementation of the Resolution and contains examples of Members’ practices in that regard.

The publishing of the Secretariat Note comes less than a week after the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator partnership welcomed over USD 4.3 billion of new investments from G7 leaders to fund the development and equitable rollout of the tests, treatments and vaccines needed to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and only a day after the world witnessed the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa via the COVAX Facility, which is the procurement mechanism for the vaccines pillar of the ACT Accelerator (COVAX).

“The Customs community needs to be well prepared and add value to the global efforts for ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally by facilitating and securing the cross-border movement of the vaccines, as well as related supplies and equipment,” said WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya on the occasion of the publication of the new Secretariat Note. “This is the time to act and we urge all WCO Members to consult the guidance and information provided by the Secretariat in view of swiftly and efficiently implementing measures and solutions in that regard.” Dr. Mikuriya added.

The Secretariat Note is designed to be a living document that will be enhanced with more Members’ practices and further practical guidance as WCO Members gain experience and share information with the WCO Secretariat on the Customs clearance of COVID-19 vaccines, related supplies and equipment. The Secretariat Note was developed following the guidance provided to the Secretariat by the Chairperson of the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) and the first edition of the note will be presented to the 231st/232nd Sessions of the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) that will start on 19 April 2021.