Education and Awareness:

WCO Instruments and Tools



Last update: 9th September 2020

To achieve its objectives, the WCO has adopted several customs instruments, including the SAFE Framework of Standards, the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), the Risk Management Compendium, and the AEO Compendium, among others. These instruments and tools provide a comprehensive set of uniform principles and guidelines for simple, effective, and predictable Customs procedures with effective Customs control.

To increase education and awareness on these WCO instruments and tools, the WCO ESA RPSG encourages its members to make use of these WCO resources for both technical assistance and capacity building. The WCO has a long list of Instruments and Tools (WCO) on their website, forming the core of the global guidelines on Customs and related knowledge.

Best Practices Globally

The following list of core documentation is some of the essential WCO Instruments and Tools.

   i. Revised Kyoto Convention

The RKC was initially adopted in 1974 (revised in 1999), and officially came into force in 2006. The RKC comprises several fundamental governing principles:

  1. Transparency and predictability of Customs controls
  2. Standardisation and simplification of the goods declaration and supporting documentation
  3. Simplified procedures for authorised persons
  4. Maximum use of information technology
  5. Minimum necessary Customs control to ensure compliance with regulations
  6. Use of risk management and audit-based controls
  7. Coordinated interventions with other border agencies
  8. A partnership with trade

The RKC promotes trade facilitation and effective control through its legal provisions that detail the application of simple yet efficient procedures. The RKC also contains new and obligatory rules for its application which all contracting parties must accept without reservation.

The full text of the RKC is available here.

  ii. HS Convention

The Harmonised System (HS) convention was adopted in 1983 and came into force in 1988. The nomenclature is used as the basis to determine Customs tariffs, as well as being the core guidelines for the compilation of international trade statistics.

The HS convention comprises more than 5,000 commodity groups, divided into 99 chapters – each identified by a six-digit code arranged in a legal and logical structure. These ‘tariff headings’ have well-defined rules aimed at achieving a uniform, global classification of goods. Furthermore, matters stretching from trade policy to rules of origin also makes use of the HS, with several other benefits in between.

One can purchase the HS publications at the WCO Online bookshop.

iii. SAFE Framework of Standards

In an attempt to secure and facilitate global trade, the WCO Council adopted the SAFE Framework of Standards (SAFE) in June 2005. The SAFE was implemented to act as:

  • a deterrent to international terrorism,
  • secure revenue collections, and
  • promote trade facilitation worldwide.

The SAFE rests on three (3) pillars:

  1. Customs-to-Customs (C-2-C)
  2. Customs-to-Business (C-2-B)
  3. Customs-to-Other Government and Inter-Government Agencies (C-2-OGAs)

The SAFE has emerged as the global Customs community’s concerted response to threats to the supply chain security while also supporting the facilitation of legitimate and secure businesses. It prescribes baseline standards that have been tested and work well around the globe. This unique international instrument endeavours to usher a safer world trade regime and heralds a new approach to working methods and partnership for both Customs and business toward a common goal based on trust.

The SAFE is regularly updated to effectively address new and emerging developments in the international supply chain. Notable additions were provisions on AEO Programme, Coordinated Border Management and Trade Continuity and Resumption, Pillar 3 (C-2-OGAs), and Pre-loading Advance Cargo Information (ACI) for air cargo.

The full text of the SAFE 2018 is available here.

 iv. Risk Management Compendium

The WCO Risk Management Compendium is a methodology developed by the WCO that is sufficiently flexible in its application to meet the unique operating environment and conditions of individual WCO Members. Since there is an increasing need to define a shared approach for Customs across the globe that speaks a common language in respect of Customs risk management, the WCO has outlined a guideline methodology to identify and treat potential forms of Customs risk.

The WCO Risk Management Compendium comprises of two separate but interlinked volumes:

Volume 1 sets out the organisational framework for risk management and outlines the risk management process. The full text of Volume 1 can be accessed here.

Volume 2 (which is only available to Members) deals with risk assessment, profiling and targeting tools that inform selection criteria for identifying high-risk consignments, passengers and conveyances for Customs intervention.

The extensive list of WCO Instruments and Tools is available on the WCO’s website - - with the WCO ESA RPSG greatly encouraging their members to make themselves up to speed with these guidelines.

Progress in the ESA Region

   i. Regional Training Centres

There are currently four regional training centres (RTCs) in the ESA region:

  1. RTC Kenya - KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority)
  2. RTC Mauritius - MRA (Mauritius Revenue Authority)
  3. RTC South Africa - SARS (South African Revenue Service)
  4. RTC Zimbabwe - ZIMRA (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority)

The WCO notes that training and training methodologies vary widely globally, depending on the cultural dynamic of the society they serve. The WCO’s RTCs, therefore, have a critical role to play in the development of Customs administrations regionally through the delivery of regionally relevant and adapted training and training services.

Historically, the RTCs have been developed independently from one another and, while this has enabled early development to take place, it is currently WCO policy to improve the coordination between them at a regional level. There are high hopes that this will avoid duplication, encourage specialists in particular topics, and make better use of resources.

Under the WCO strategy, the RTCs have four prominent roles:

  1. The development of regionally relevant training
  2. The maintenance of specialist trainer pools
  3. The provision of specialist training at a regional level
  4. The development and support of the WCO’s blended learning programme

In addition to training for the Customs administrations, there is a growing need for training in Customs matters in the private sector. Provision of such training is essential both for the development of effective relationships between Customs and economic operators and as a potential source of income for the RTC.

  ii. Click

The WCO Secretariat launched a new version of their CLiKC! learning platform in 2018, to provide users with a comprehensive picture of the Organization’s training material and opportunities available to its Members.

This initiative follows the endorsement by the WCO Capacity Building Committee, in 2018, of a revised training strategy. The strategy calls for the adoption of a blended learning approach that combines traditional classroom teaching practices and online technology, allowing trainers to dedicate more time to practical elements in the classroom and trainees to have a better learning experience.

To support this shift in the way training is delivered, the new CLiKC! platform will enable its users to:

  • view all the training opportunities offered by the WCO Secretariat, such as the “course catalogue,” which includes e-learning courses, global and regional workshops, and other kinds of training events;
  • register for online courses;
  • request to be registered for classroom courses that are open to their country/region, directly on the website (national coordinators will still be in charge of managing users’ accounts, and users’ registration requests will need to be approved by them);
  • ensure that they have the knowledge required to attend a classroom course by completing the relevant e-learning courses in advance of the classroom session;
  • keep track of their achievements and obtain their certificates online, after completing the feedback questionnaire.

Under the new system, the application and registration process for all training, including classroom-based events, will progressively become paperless. The course will facilitate the administrative work involved in preparing training workshops, and enable CLiKC!-registered Customs officers and national contact points to be better informed about the opportunities offered by the WCO for developing their technical skills and professionalism.

This evolution of the platform will also feature a new, exciting and engaging design, making CLiKC! the “one-stop-shop” for the training of Customs officials. While the new website officially launched in June 2019, features will be released progressively up to the end of the year. The platform organises comprehensive information and training sessions for the national coordinators in due course.