International Customs Day is celebrated on January 26 every year and was initiated by the World Customs Organization (W.C.O.) in 1983. 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.’
History of International Customs Day
Before we get into its history, let’s understand what customs are. Every country has a customs authority responsible for collecting tariffs and overseeing the import and export of goods. Every country has its own laws regarding what goods you can bring into the country and what you can send out. All of this falls under the jurisdiction of the customs authority. The World Customs Organization (W.C.O.) is an intergovernmental organization that oversees the different customs administrations related to international trade.
In 1948, the Committee for European Economic Cooperation formed a study group called the European Customs Union Study Group (E.C.U.S.G.) to research the possibility of creating one or more inter-European customs unions. This led to the formation of the Customs Cooperation Council (C.C.C.) in 1952 to improve the efficiency of customs administrations worldwide. On January 26, 1953, the inaugural session of the C.C.C. took place, and 17 founding members participated. The organization created International Customs Day in 1983. After many decades of growth and expansion outside Europe, the C.C.C. became a global organization and was renamed the W.C.O. in 1994. The headquarters of the W.C.O. is in Brussels, Belgium.
Since its conception, the W.C.O. has helped set standards for efficient custom administration worldwide. They have helped develop and implement various customs systems and procedures that guarantee our security. They have also developed and subsequently managed the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, an international standard classification system for various commodities. The organization has also helped administer the World Trade Organization’s policies while ensuring safe and secure international trade across global societies, helping legitimize international trade.
International Customs Day timeline
The Committee for European Economic Cooperation establishes the group to research the possibility of creating inter-European customs unions.
The Customs Cooperation Council is created to improve the efficiency of customs administrations across the world.
The C.C.C. creates the first-ever International Customs Day to recognize the role customs officials and agencies play.
To establish its position as a global organization, the C.C.C. changes its name to the World Customs Organization.
International Customs Day FAQs
What is the age limit to join customs?
The maximum age limit to become a customs official is 40 years. You also need to be a citizen of the country you’re applying to.
Is the World Customs Organization Part of the U.N.?
The W.C.O. is not a part of the U.N. However, it is an intergovernmental organization like the U.N.
What is the official language of the W.C.O.?
The W.C.O.’s official languages are English and French. Although, some meetings have taken place in Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish due to the diversity of members and languages.
How to Observe International Customs Day
Write to a customs official
A word of thanks can go a long way. Send a little thank you note to a customs official to celebrate their efforts.
Share on social media
Your one story can inform many people. Use your social media platforms to spread awareness about this day.
Read, read, read
If you have no idea what the customs rules and regulations are in your country, look them up online! You can even find videos that can help you learn more about customs.
5 Fascinating Facts About Customs
Products made from sea turtles are prohibited
According to the U.S. customs authority, products made from sea turtles are prohibited from being exported and imported into the United States.
98% of world trade
The World Customs Organization helps administer more than 98% of world trade.
The W.C.O. has a global membership
Currently, the organization’s members represent 182 countries.
The World Trade Organization
The W.T.O. was formed in 1995, governs trade, and looks after international trade rules and regulations beyond tariffs and customs.
International Customs Day has different themes each year, including ‘Customs fostering sustainability for people, prosperity, and the plant,’ ‘SMART borders,’ and ‘Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience.’
Why International Customs Day is Important
It allows us to show gratitude
This day reminds us of the customs officials that work tirelessly to ensure a secure administration. It is important to be grateful for their efforts.
It keeps us informed
Knowing about the customs laws in one’s country is very helpful during travels. It also helps us cooperate with the customs regulations and lessen the officials’ workload.
It helps the global economy thrive
International Customs Day celebrates the many transactions and international trade across borders. These transactions help the global economy thrive.
International Customs Day dates