International Customs Day


By Sharon Schweitzer

International Customs Day is celebrated on January 26th every year and was initiated by the World Customs Organization (W.C.O.) in 1983, which was the 30th anniversary of the inaugural session of the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC). The CCC was renamed the World Customs Organization (WCO) in 1994. The 1953 inaugural session was held is Brussels, Belgium, which is still the headquarters of the WCO. 

This day celebrates all the customs officials and agencies that toil day in and day out to ensure effective world trade management. The officials also ensure the smooth functioning of trade operations across international borders and put people at the very center of the transformation process. Each year, the day also follows a new theme like ‘Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain’ or ‘Customs fostering sustainability for people, prosperity, and the plant.’

Every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining the duty that will be applied to the goods or, in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all. Certificates of Origin (CO) are important international trade documents attesting that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country. Millions are issued every year.

ICC through its World Chambers Federation provides an international accreditation chain system for chambers of commerce, the principal agent in the delivery of certificates and has established international standards, rules and procedures that reinforce the trust and integrity of the CO Chain, to the benefit of traders and Customs administrations alike.

Additionally, ICC’s famous Incoterms® rules are accepted as the global standard for the interpretation of the most common terms used in contracts for the international sale of goods. Incorporated in contracts for the sale of goods worldwide, they provide guidance to importers and exporters helping trading partners to avoid costly misunderstandings by clarifying the tasks, costs and risks involved in the delivery of goods from sellers to buyers.

In 2020, Customs4trade partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce in Belgium (ICC Belgium) to establish the Customs Professional Award. The ceremony was held on January 26th, 2020, to publicly recognise the customs experts who go above and beyond the call of duty, applying their customs expertise daily to support their company’s growth in the field of international trade.

The theme for International Customs Day in 2024, “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose,” encapsulates the dynamic nature of customs operations in the contemporary global landscape. In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and evolving trade dynamics, customs authorities are called upon not only to uphold traditional values but also to forge new partnerships with a clear sense of purpose. This theme emphasizes the need for customs to collaborate with both long standing allies and emerging partners, incorporating innovation and purposeful engagement to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It underscores the importance of adaptability and inclusivity in customs practices, reflecting the ever-changing nature of international trade and the commitment to creating a more interconnected, efficient, and purpose-driven global trade environment.


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Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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