about icon


The ASYCUDA Programme

Home iconDevelopment Context

Why an efficient and effective customs administration is essential to the welfare of any country:

  • It benefits the national economy by collecting revenue
  • It assists the government in implementing national and international policy
  • It protects the country by combating fraud and the illegal trafficking of prohibited and restricted goods
  • It provides statistical information on foreign trade transactions, which is essential for economic planning
  • It encourages international trade

Home iconObjectives

The ASYCUDA Programme works to reform customs clearance processes and aims to:

  • Accelerate customs clearance via computerization and by simplifying procedures, thereby minimizing administrative costs to the business community and the economies of countries
  • Increase customs revenue – often the major contributor to national budgets – by ensuring that all goods are declared, that duty/tax calculations are correct and that duty/exemptions, preference regimes, etc., are correctly applied and managed
  • Produce reliable and timely trade and fiscal statistics to assist in the economic planning process as a by-product of the customs clearance process

An important objective of ASYCUDA projects is to implement systems as efficiently as possible with a full transfer of know-how to national customs administrations at the lowest possible cost for countries and donors. Projects also utilise harmonized international standards, such as UN/EDIFACT, whilst simultaneously leading to active and mutually-beneficial cooperation among ASYCUDA user countries.

Home iconFeatures

ASYCUDA is a computerized customs-management system that covers most foreign trade procedures. The system handles manifest and customs declarations, accounting procedures, and warehousing manifest and suspense procedures. It generates detailed information about foreign trade transactions that can be used for economic analysis and planning. ASYCUDA software can be used on multiple types of hardware in a client/server environment. Transaction and control data are stored in a relational database management system. It takes into account all international codes and standards relevant to customs processing as established by the ISO, WCO and UN. ASYCUDA can be configured to suit national characteristics such as: individual customs regimes; national tariffs; customs regulations and legislation; and after initial configuration remains fully adaptable to any changing customs regimes, regulations and legislation. It also provides for electronic data interchange between traders and customs administrations using UN/EDIFACT rules. The ASYCUDA implementation strategy has been developed to respond to the challenge represented by such a complex reform programme. It aims to deliver the full transfer of know-how to ensure national long-term sustainability. At the same time it requires strong national commitment at all levels and involves continuous progress evaluation. Project activities are carried out in the following three phases:

1   Preparation

The preparation phase begins with an assessment of the current situation. The national team, together with the international advisers, identify areas needing reforms such as: the introduction of international codes; streamlining and simplifying clearance procedures; aligning forms to international standards; and modernizing the national customs law to conform with the Kyoto Convention. While some of these reforms can be introduced early in the project, others need to be established through legislation and may take time to introduce. During this phase, technical and functional ASYCUDA implementation courses are delivered to build up the national implementation team’s capacities and help them to develop a sense of ownership over the system.

2   Pilot

The pilot implementation phase involves the preparation of the national ASYCUDA configuration, i.e. the coding of the tariff and related regulations and legislation, the data entry of the control tables (e.g. declarant codes and addresses, customs office codes), and the preparation of valuation and selectivity systems. Computers for the pilot offices (normally headquarters, an airport, a seaport, a land boundary and an inland clearance office) are installed and tested to confirm that the configuration of the system meets the requirements of the national regulations. The reform activities initiated in phase one are continued as necessary. A work plan is drawn up for implementing the system throughout the country (phase 3), together with an estimate of the resources required. A large ASYCUDA familiarization training programme for customs staff and trade users is delivered during this phase.

3   Roll-Out

The roll-out phase can be implemented by the national team with minimal assistance from international experts, if the transfer of skills and know-how was successfully completed during the first two phases. This phase is much more of a logistical rather than cognitive challenge. It requires the physical preparation of all sites to be computerized, the delivery of training based on phase two’s model training course, and the technical installation and support of computer systems in the identified sites. The configuration of the customs software will simply be copied from the appropriate pilot sites.
The first two phases have a minimum duration of 18 months and will only succeed with strong political commitment (including support from the highest levels), and the full-time availability of a competent and motivated multi-skilled national team of customs and technical staff.

Home iconResults

The impact of ASYCUDA projects can be measured through the increase in customs revenue yield, availability of reliable trade statistics and reduction in average clearance time. The case studies posted on this website provide illustrations of some of the benefits. Results may vary from country to country dependent on the extent of high-level commitment to reform the customs system.
102 countries and territories worldwide have adopted ASYCUDA, 90% of which are using or migrating to the latest version – ASYCUDAWorld. With 51 operational projects, including 7 regional and interregional projects, the ASYCUDA Programme is UNCTAD’s largest technical cooperation initiative.