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Fellowship Programme

The WCO Fellowship Programme has been run successfully more than 85 times since 1985. Three sessions take place every year, one in French, one in English and the other in Spanish (since 2010).

So far, more than 1000 officers from 145 countries have benefited from this Programme. It is designed for managers strategically regarded by their administration as key people. Experience shows that a significant number of Fellows have subsequently been appointed as Ministers, Directors General, Deputy Directors General and to other senior positions.

The WCO Fellowship Programme provides a grant covering travel and subsistence expenses to enable promising mid-level Customs managers from developing countries to undertake a detailed modernization project in a specialized Customs area. The Programme aims to boost their chance of occupying a senior position within their Customs administration and to lead the reform and modernization of their administration in a dynamic and sustainable manner.

Objectives and benefits

The Fellowship Programme is aimed at:

  • enabling mid-management officials from Customs administrations in developing countries to conduct an in-depth study of the WCO’s Conventions, instruments and recommendations;
  • increasing the participants’ international experience;
  • developing important international networks for the participants; and
  • contributing to the change management process in a specific Customs area.

In order to fulfil these objectives, each selected participant undertakes to make the most of the overlapping benefits of:

  • his/her discussions with Secretariat experts and the other Fellows;
  • his/her multifaceted Customs and leadership and management training;
  • his/her thorough understanding of international Customs standards promoted by the WCO and issues relating to their national implementation; and
  • his/her direct experience of management tools for these standards (attendance at sessions of the WCO technical Committees, exposure to the work of the WCO Secretariat and the regional entities, etc.).


Each participant is sponsored by a donor organization.

To date, the Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, Japan and France offer unwavering support to the Fellowship programme, by sponsoring candidates and hosting them for their field study trip.

In the past, the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway and the WCO have sponsored and welcomed Fellows for their practical training. A number of partner administrations, such as Australia, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, have hosted Fellows’ study visits.

Programme planning

Annual calendar:

Three sessions are scheduled each year:

  • The English-speaking Programme takes place during the first quarter of each calendar year
  • The Spanish-speaking session is scheduled during each spring
  • The French-speaking Programme is set to start in September or October.

Duration and Agenda

The Programme lasts seven weeks and is delivered in a blended format (i.e. combining online and in-person components).


Delivery mode 



Virtual activity, through daily online meetings, self-learning on CLiKC! and remote tutorship sessions 

Introduction to the Programme 

Modernization project 
Specialization in one technical area, self-learning through the CLiKC! e-learning modules 

Research work, analysis, drafting, realization of a modernization project, supervised by a WCO tutor. Provide each beneficiary administration with practical and technical recommendations, based on the application or implementation of a WCO tool, instrument or standard,  aiming at responding to the organizational or operational issue that has been identified. 

Presentations of WCO Directorates’ and units’ activities and latest updates. 

3 weeks 

In-person workshop, at the WCO headquarters 

Roundtable with the Secretary General. 

Experience-sharing sessions 
National presentations and introduction of the fellows’ respective research projects.  

Leadership & Management Development workshop (LMD)
Participation to the LMD workshop enables to enhance and complement fellows’ capacities to contribute to their administrations’ development and modernization. 

2 weeks 

In-person study visit, within a partner organization 

Field study trip 
Observation of operational practices within the hosting administration. 

2 weeks 

Total: 7 weeks 

Selection of participants

The selection process for the Fellowship Programme participants consists of several stages. The candidates’ profile must meet the programmes eligibility requirements and selection criteria.

Eligibility requirements - profile :

  • Educational background, University degree;
  • At least four years’ service in Customs;
  • Maximum age: 45;
  • Middle-management position;
  • Proficient in the Programme language (English, French or Spanish); and
  • Nomination endorsed by his/her administration.

Selection criteria;

  • Facility availed in the past to other candidates from the same administration;
  • Area of study and availability of a WCO tutor proficient in the language of the programme;
  • Relevance of the research proposal and quality of the modernization project;
  • Computing and drafting skills;
  • Donor preference for the final selection of participants;

Gender balance and regional balance might also be taken into consideration in the selection process.

Maximum number of participants in each Programme: 15