Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Customs Law Research Guide

This guide details sources for researching international customs law, including sources from international organizations and major trade agreements.

International Customs Law

The following IGO and NGO websites are reliable sources of free information about international customs law, including relevant treaties and international agreements, as well as internationally recognized standards and procedures. 

  • World Customs Organization (WCO)
    The WCO is an inter-governmental organization that oversees the development of internationally recognized standards and practices to improve customs administration.  The WCO maintains the Harmonized System for the classification of goods.  It also administers the technical aspects of the World Trade Organization Agreements on Customs Valuation and on Rules of Origin.  Visit the WCO's website to access the following:
    • Conventions (Treaties)
      For each treaty, you will find information about its status and a list of contracting parties.  For select treaties, the full texts and/or explanatory materials available for download.
    • Customs Valuation
      Content includes a guide to customs valuation and transfer pricing, commentary on the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation, decisions taken by the WCO Committee on Customs Valuation, and more.
    • Harmonized System of Classification
      Access the 2022 edition of the HS Nomenclature (in effect from January 1, 2022), the 2017 edition of the HS Nomenclature, as well as other prior editions; recommendations related to the HS system made by the WCO's HS Committee; and more.
      • Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System:  Explanatory Notes.
        The Explanatory Notes to the WCO's Harmonized System are available in print at the Georgetown Law Library.  This five-volume loose leaf set is shelved on the 5th floor.  The call number is K4640.T48 C857 (2022).   Library use only.  Not available for loan.
    • Rules of Origin
      Content includes the full text of the WTO Agreement on Rules of Origin, guidelines issued by the WCO, a handbook on rules of origin, and more.
    • WCO Recommendations
      Download WCO recommendations concerning the Harmonized System, customs procedures and facilitation, customs-related information technologies, and customs compliance and enforcement. 
    • WCO Research Paper Series
      More than three dozen research papers authored by WCO staff members are available for download.

  • World Trade Organization (WTO)
    The WTO is the inter-governmental organization responsible for the multilateral system that regulates international trade.  It provides a forum for negotiating multilateral trade agreements and for resolving trade-related disputes.  Customs-related content accessible from the WTO website is summarized below:
  • Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA)
    This computerized customs management system was created by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to help developing countries modernize their customs administration.  The system also generates trade data that can be used for statistical analysis.  The ASYCUDA website provides access to:
  • International Chamber of Commerce
    The ICC is the most prominent non-governmental organization representing the interests of the international business community.  The ICC's policy commissions make it a key player in the development of international economic law.
    • ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation
      The commission promotes customs reform and modernization by formulating recommendations for the implementation of transparent, simplified, and harmonized customs policies and procedures.  From this gateway page you can access the ICC's policy statements on customs-related matters.
    • Incoterms Rules
      Incoterms Rules are internationally recognized standards that are used in both international and domestic contracts for the sale of goods.  The standards were first developed by experts brought together by the ICC in 1936, and are periodically revised and updated.