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Table of contents


Executive summary



Volume I

Risk management in the customs context

  • Changing operating environment
  • Compliance management approach

Developing an organizational framework for managing risk

  • Overview
  • Mandate and commitment
  • Design of framework for managing risk
  • Implementing risk management
  • Monitoring and review of the framework
  • Continual improvement of the framework
  • Summary

Embedding risk management as an organizational culture

  • Risk management maturity
  • Example of a risk management maturity model




  • ANNEX 1: Risk management techniques and tools
  • ANNEX 2: Compliance measurement
  • ANNEX 3: APEC Risk management process self-assessment
  • ANNEX 4: Risk assessment/targeting centres
  • ANNEX 5: Case studies by members

Volume II

Restricted access.
For members only

Risk assessment, profiling and targeting

Risk indicators

  • General High-Risk Indicators
  • Standardized Risk Assessments, Model Risk Indicators/Profiles
  • Maritime-Cargo Risk Indicators and Manuals (Incoming Sea Containers)

Table of contents

  • Pre-arrival phase
  • Arrival phase
  • Post-arrival phase
  • Air-Cargo Risk Indicators and Manuals
  • Pre-arrival phase
  • Arrival phase
  • Post-arrival phase
  • Land-Cargo Risk Indicators and Manuals
  • Arrival phase
  • Post-arrival phase
  • Handbook for Customs Officers on Risk Indicators: Factors for Intellectual
  • Property Infringement

Analysis guidelines

Information and intelligence

  • Global Information and Intelligence Strategy
  • National Information and Intelligence Strategy


We live in an extremely fast moving world where global trade is fundamental to economic growth and social development. A stable trading environment enables economies to reap many benefits which can impact positively on society and the way people live. Customs plays a significant role in ensuring that global trade meets regulatory requirements and conforms to national laws.

Changes in the strategic landscape of Customs’ operating environment and long-term growth in trade and travel volumes have affected the way Customs administrations are managed and approach their tasks. New government priorities, along with emerging challenges at the border, have led many administrations to seek a more structured and systematic way to manage risk. Today, Customs is required to address risk wherever it is found and increasingly as early in the supply chain as possible. Together with other key buildings blocks outlined in the WCO’s Customs in the 21st Century strategic vision, and standards and guidelines contained in the revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework of Standards, the application of risk management is a critical element that underpins all modern Customs administration. Increased automation and the submission of more comprehensive information earlier in the supply chain has enabled Customs to improve risk assessment and deployment of targeted Customs controls concentrated on the high-risk end of the risk continuum.

Corresponding effective and efficient controls in turn give Customs the opportunity to facilitate low-risk movements and promote key government goals relating to the facilitation of trade and travel.

The Members and Secretariat of the WCO, in partnership with their private sector and academic partners, have worked hard to gather and consolidate the latest knowledge on risk into this new WCO Customs Risk Management Compendium; a practitioners guide that includes best practices, useful case studies and real-life examples from around the world. Being a living document, the Compendium will be continuously updated to reflect the latest developments in risk management and WCO Members’ best practices.

This will ensure that it remains relevant and indispensable to the global Customs community. We hope that widespread use of this reference tool will lead to improved Customs controls and enhanced facilitation of cross-border flows of goods, people and conveyances.

Kunio Mikuriya
Secretary General
World Customs Organization

Executive summary

Customs administrations should aim for a reasonable and equitable balance between ensuring compliance, and minimizing disruption and cost to legitimate trade and the public. Through the adoption of a holistic risk-based compliance management approach, optimal levels of both facilitation and control can be achieved. A key feature of this approach is to actively “steer” the client population towards voluntary compliance (low risk) leaving more scarce control resources to be deployed towards the high-risk end of the risk continuum.

A robust organizational risk management framework is one of the preconditions for a risk-based compliance management approach. The framework provides the foundation and organizational arrangements for risk management, allowing individual risks to be identified, assessed and managed across the organization by empowering officers at all levels to make risk-based decisions in a structured and systematic manner.

For risk management to be effective, it needs to be embedded as an organizational culture and be part of the way Customs runs its business. Anecdotal experience provided by Members indicates that it may take several years, and requires strong ongoing commitment from managers and staff at all levels. Administrations should monitor, review and assess their risk management practices and continuously develop them.

At the operational level, Customs administrations are encouraged to implement risk-based control procedures that are informed by intelligence and information holdings. The aim of these procedures is to identify reliable operators/persons and lowrisk consignments/transactions which may benefit from greater facilitation as opposed to those that require higher levels of control. The Compendium includes practical and operational tools that allow Customs to assess, profile and target the flows of goods, people and means of conveyance that cross international borders and to determine what levels of intervention may or may not be required.