Unique Consignment Reference (UCR)

One leading international trade organization has explained the Unique Consignment Reference as "Like an electronic staple designed for e-commerce, a UCR binds information together - all the bits of data about a trade transaction, from initial order and consignment of goods by a supplier, to the movement of those goods and arrival at the border, through to their final delivery to the importer."

The main objective of the UCR is to define a generic mechanism that has sufficient flexibility to cope with the most common scenarios that occur in international trade. The basis of the UCR is to maximise use of existing supplier, customer and transport references.

It is also a reference number, primarily for Customs use and may in future be required to be reported to Customs at any point during a Customs procedure. The UCR should be:

  • applied to all international goods movements for which Customs control is required;
  • used only as an access key for audit, consignment tracking and information, reconciliation purposes;
  • unique at both national and international level;
  • applied at consignment level;
  • issued as early as possible in the international transaction.

Underpinning the UCR concept is the fundamental need for Customs authorities to facilitate legitimate international trade, while, at the same time, providing effective controls. In this respect the UCR would provide Customs with an efficient tool to exchange information between enforcement agencies.

The WCO has loaded the Guidelines to WCO Unique Consignment Reference (UCR) on their Web Site under www.wcomd.org for public review. It is interested in receiving comments regarding the UCR concept and is seeking interested parties from the business community to join with representatives of the participating administrations in this review. Any organization or individual wishing to make a submission are asked to provide the WCO with their comments either through using the feedback form on the Web Site or by submitting their comments to

World Customs Organziation
Facilitation Sub-Directorate
30, rue du Marché
1210 Brussels, Belgium
Fax: +32 2 209 9493