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A.        Customs declarations as the most prevalent source of trade data 

2.2.                  Customs declarations as a source of information. At most points of entry, goods are brought into (or withdrawn from) the customs territory of a country under various customs procedures with associated declarations which contain many statistically important particulars of such movements. So far, only within a few customs unions (for instance, the European Union or the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation), have customs procedures been lifted in favour of free market circulation. Transactions among all other countries and between union and non-union countries are regulated through customs procedures. Therefore, IMTS 2010 treats those customs records as the most prevalent source of data and recommends that statisticians take advantage of them (IMTS 2010, para. 8.2).  Recognizing the need to ensure international comparability and to increase the relevance of trade data for national policy purposes, compilers should cooperate with the national customs authorities in promoting the application of international guidelines on customs procedures as laid out by the World Customs Organization (WCO).[1] A summary of terminology and customs procedures is provided below.

2.3.                  The customs (goods) declaration and the declarant.  A customs declaration is “any statement or action, in any form prescribed or accepted by the Customs, giving information or particulars required by the Customs”.[2]  A declarant is “any natural or legal person who makes a customs declaration or in whose name such a declaration is made”.[3]  The RKC notes that a declarant need not be the owner of the goods but may be any person having the right to dispose of the goods (e.g., the carrier, the forwarding agent, the consignee or an agent approved by the customs agency).[4]  The term “customs declaration” includes not only traditional declarations in the form of paper documents but also declarations made through electronic and oral means and actions required on the part of passengers under the dual-channel (red/green) system.  The “data content” of those declarations may vary significantly; normally, the most comprehensive data records are provided when goods are cleared for home use or declared for outright exportation.

2.4.                  Related customs records and accompanying documents. The tern “related customs records” is understood to refer to customs documents to be filled out in addition to the goods declaration, such as, for example, a declaration of customs value or special forms in cases where goods enter or leave customs free zones or industrial free zones. The requirements of countries might be very different. Related customs records differ from documents accompanying customs declarations, such as an invoice, a shipping manifest, a bill of lading or a certificate of origin, which are not completed or issued at customs.[5] For the purpose of this Manual, the documents accompanying customs declarations are considered non-customs data sources, while related customs records are considered customs records. However, countries might not adhere to such a distinction and might consider all or some of the supporting documentation provided at customs as part of the customs records.

 2.5.                  Changing requirements at customs. It should be noted that the role of customs is changing owing to an increased emphasis on security and a global proliferation of trade agreements. The lowering of tariffs and the simplification of customs formalities change the commercial practices as well. Therefore, some assumptions about customs records are no longer as accurate as they used to be. Also, as a result of these changes, some of the customs procedures that statistical agencies might have relied upon to identify certain types of transborder movements of goods are no longer widely used or are used differently. For instance, in certain cases the goods that are being simply transported through a given country, which in the past would have normally been declared as in-transit shipments and excluded from trade statistics, are now often declared and recorded as normal imports (and subsequent re-exports) and therefore inflate the country’s trade statistics. In this connection, it is good practice for customs officers and statisticians to cooperate closely so as to arrive at a common understanding of the distinctions between certain customs and statistical definitions and of the fact that a transaction falling under the same customs procedure may later be classified differently for statistical purposes.


[1] Most of those procedures are formulated in the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, which was signed at Kyoto, Japan, on 18 May 1973 and revised in June 1999; WCO has issued the “Glossary of international customs terms” (Brussels; October 2011) to facilitate uniformity in use of customs terminology. The Revised Kyoto Convention is available from: http://www. facilitation/instrument-andtools/conventions/pf_revised_ kyoto_conv/kyoto_new.aspx (interactive web version); and topics/facilitation/instrumentand-tools/conventions/ pf_revised_kyoto_conv/~/ media/ A7D0E4 87847940AD9 4DD10E3FDD39D60. ashx (pdf). The Glossary of International Customs Terms is available from http://wcoomdpublications. org/downloadablepublications/glossary-ofinternational-customs-terms. html?___store=english&___ from_store=french; http:// downloadable/download/ sample/sample_id/123/ (pdf); and http://www. Public/Global/PDF/Topics/ Facilitation/ Ressources/Publications/ Updated%20Glossary%20 E%20v2%202011. ashx?db=web (pdf).

[2]  See the definition of “goods declaration” in the WCO Glossary; see also the RKC, General Annex, Chap. 2, E19/ F8, “goods declaration.”

[3]  See the definition of “declarant” in the WCO Glossary; see also the RKC, General Annex, Chap 2, E14/ F7, “declarant”. 
[4]  See the RKC, General Annex, Chapter 3, standards 3.6 and 3.7.
[5]  For example, the bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier to a shipper, while the certificate of origin is usually a document issued by the ministry of trade or industry or by another authorized governmental agency.