Frequently Asked Questions
A - At the moment the answer is no, as our documents are considered confidential. But our web site provides access to the historical documentation database ("Document DB") which contains working documents and reports (without business confidential data) of Harmonized System Committee (HSC), the Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO) and the Technical Committee on Customs Valuation (TCCV). Unfortunately, we have a back-log with regard to the publication of these documents but we hope to remedy this situation as soon as possible.
Q - I want to complain about the high Customs duties and taxes that I had to pay on some goods which I recently received. Can the WCO look into the matter for me?
A - You must contact the Customs administration concerned. The WCO is an intergovernmental organization and is not responsible for, nor has competence in, the administration of national legislation. Under the Section “About Us” on the WCO website you will find a list of WCO Members and links to their respective websites. Checking this source is likely to provide you with the necessary contact details you require.
International Travellers and Private Persons
Q - I am shortly to take a vacation and will visit a number of different countries. Can you advise me if I require a visa?
A - This is solely an immigration issue and is not within the competence of the WCO. You should contact the Embassies or consulates of the countries you will be travelling through or speak to your travel agent.
Q -Can a single General Annex really cover every aspect of trade facilitation as well as targeted control procedures in order to permit smoother legitimate trade?
A - The General Annex is the nucleus of how modern Customs administration operates. Its principles for clearance, duties and taxes, guarantees, controls, information technology, relationships with third parties, information and decisions, and appeals are common to every Customs activity worldwide. It can also be a useful reference guide for Customs policy-makers.
A - The revised Kyoto Convention meets the definition that a good agreement is an effective compromise; its structure is solid yet supple. It imposes obligations but provides flexibility and different time limits for implementation :
The General Annex forms the basic core and roots, while the Specific Annexes are branches that can be added at the pace desired or required by a Customs administration.
There are new features such Transitional Standards and Guidelines to aid governments to meet the obligations undertaken, and a Management Committee to give all Contracting Parties a voice in the development and administration of the agreement.
A - The core principles of the Kyoto Convention have been developed for universal standardization and harmonization of Customs procedures. They apply in the territory of each Contracting Party that accedes to it regardless of their geographical location.
International trade statistics reveal that economic growth and the volumes of imports and exports are increasing in all the different regions of the world. For example, during the last decade the South American continent saw 8.5 % average growth in volume of exports and 12.5 % for imports. This is one of the highest growth rates in the world.
The revised Kyoto Convention is the ideal tool for harmonizing the elements of this trade, and thereby consolidating and expanding each Contracting Party’s share of world trade. The certainty that can be offered by having standard procedures will further increase economic growth and international trade volumes.
A - The principles for efficient and simple clearance procedures in the revised Kyoto Convention apply equally to all goods and all means of transport (carriers) that convey the goods into or out of a Customs territory. The formalities for all carriers on entering or leaving a Customs territory are also uniform.
Q - Does the revised Kyoto Convention help governments to deal with the new challenges of electronic commerce?
A - The expression "electronic commerce" refers to the method of conducting business today and is the technique for the exchange of information in trade. Today’s Customs administrations have to accommodate modern business practices and the impact e-commerce can have on Customs procedures in order to keep up with the increased need for swift and efficient clearance of goods.
Recognizing these changes in today’s business practices and the role of electronic commerce, the revised Kyoto Convention requires Customs to apply information technology to support Customs operations, wherever it is cost-effective and efficient for both Customs and the trade.
It provides administrations with detailed guidelines on how to apply and implement information technology for the clearance of goods, carriers and persons, thus assisting Customs to deal with the demands generated by electronic commerce.
A - The Member Customs administrations of the WCO invested 4 years in updating and modernizing this important instrument. By unanimously adopting the revised Convention in June 1999 all 151 WCO Members signalled their approval of these new principles and rules for simplified and harmonized Customs procedures, and with this their willingness to work towards full implementation.
Q- Is it reasonable to expect Customs administrations to commit to implementing all of the 600 Standards and Recommendations and Practices contained in the revised Kyoto?
A - As a modern contractual tool successfully negotiated by the WCO Members, the revised Kyoto Convention has the flexibility to take account of the particular situation of each administration. Yet at the same time it ensures a high degree of uniformity in Customs procedures.
The new structure of the Kyoto Convention provides a comprehensive package of up-to-date Customs procedures but its content can be considered separately. The Body of the Convention (relating to the procedures for its adoption and administration) and the General Annex are binding on Contracting Parties and form the minimum requirement of the contract. This is essential to ensure the harmonisation of procedures in all countries that become contracting parties. However, any Contracting Party can choose which Specific Annexes or Chapters to accept.
This structure permits a flexible choice of commitments by a Contracting Party. This flexibility makes it possible to take account of the peculiarities of each administration, yet without losing sight of the final objective, which is total and definitive accession to the whole Convention.
A - Encouraging national economic growth is one of the key objectives for developing countries. To achieve this, developing countries must play a greater role in international trade.
Simplifying the procedures to move goods across borders will reduce administrative barriers, thereby encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to become involved in international trade and attracting foreign investment. This results in greater economic development.
The revised Kyoto Convention is designed to ensure that Customs is able to carry out their responsibilities more efficiently and effectively.
A number of developing countries played an active role during the revision of the Convention. This has ensured that the revised provisions take into account their contributions and address their particular concerns
Q - Will implementation of the revised Kyoto Convention allow Customs to maintain controls while focusing on trade facilitation?
A - The principles in the revised Kyoto Convention promote trade facilitation, but also ensure that the statutory functions of the Customs are not compromised. Cross-border movement of goods is the key element in any international trade transaction and Customs presence is an essential and statutory feature for the movement of such goods.
The manner in which Customs provide for swift and efficient clearance of these goods reflects the quality of service provided by the government to the public.
The revised Kyoto Convention provides a comprehensive set of uniform principles for simple, effective and predictable Customs procedures with effective Customs control. It thus responds to the key needs of both modern day Customs administrations and the demands of the international trade by providing a balance between the Customs functions of control and revenue collection and that of trade facilitation.
This assurance of standard and simple procedures harmonized across administrations will facilitate and boost international investment and trade.