Cooperating with Customs
The e-commerce market moves huge numbers of parcels and small packages across borders, making seamless collaboration between Posts and Customs more necessary than ever. The UPU, through the Customs Group of the Postal Operations Council, works actively with partners in the supply chain to keep mail moving across borders and ensure that these mail items reach their destination safely and on time.
One example of such cooperation is with the World Customs Organization (WCO): the WCO–UPU Contact Committee was established in 1964 at the Universal Postal Congress in Vienna as a means to collaborate on issues related to the clearance of postal items through customs. This joint committee develops procedures and publications to guide Post–Customs work at the national and international level. The two organizations also engage in joint capacity-building projects, organizing workshops on postal customs issues for developing countries.
All meeting documents relating to this area are available to members (with UPU accounts at the UPU Documentation Centre).
The Customs Declaration System (CDS), created by the UPU’s Postal Technology Centre, helps streamline customs clearance by allowing participating Posts and Customs to exchange advance data and calculate required duties and taxes.
For packages sent, UPU regulations require Posts to share information about the sender, contents and value with customs authorities. This information used to be sent with packages by means of a paper form, but CDS now enables Posts to share this information via electronic data interchange (EDI) messaging before the package is sent. This advance information can help Customs decrease its own processing times.
CDS also enables customs authorities to send EDI messages to Posts. For example, Customs can use the platform to notify Posts if an item has been rejected during the screening process. This, in turn, allows Posts to better track packages as they make their way through the supply chain.
Prohibitions. Items not admitted.
Prohibitions (country specific)
According to the UPU's rules and regulations (Article 19 of the UPU Convention), certain items are either prohibited or restricted within the international mail flow. With the cooperation of its member countries, the UPU regularly updates its country-specific list of prohibitions and restrictions, which serves as compendium for Article 19.1.3 of the UPU Convention.
Items not admitted (UPU)
The UPU also provides information about items that are not admitted in all categories of postal items, as well as dangerous goods (Articles 19.2 and 19.3 of the UPU Convention), under "Items not admitted".
21.02.2020The Universal Postal Convention establishes rules applicable to letter post and postal parcels exchanged in all the UPU member countries. Article 19 of the Convention contains a detailed list of items that are not admitted in the international mail flow.
21.02.2020Articles VIII and IX of the Final Protocol of the UPU Convention contain a list of provisions and reservations from UPU member countries related to article 19.
I. Narcotic drugs under international control (Relevant to Article 19.2 of the UPU Convention – Prohibitions in all categories of items)14.10.2021Contains the list of narcotic drugs under international control and additional information to assist governments in filling in the International Narcotics Control Board questionnaires related to narcotic drugs.
II. Psychotropic substances under international control (Relevant to Article 19.2 of the UPU Convention – Prohibitions in all categories of items)14.10.2021This list has been prepared by the International Narcotics Control Board to assist Governments in completing the annual statistical report on psychotropic substances (form P).
III. Definition of 9 classes of dangerous goods (Relevant to Article 19.3 of the UPU Convention – Dangerous Goods)21.02.2020Definition of 9 classes of dangerous goods according to IATA dangerous goods regulations.
IV. Country-specific list21.06.2023This list is regularly extracted from the CDS Prohibitions Compendium
Prohibitions Compendium and Search Tool
The Prohibitions Compendium is an online repository available to UPU member countries, supported by the Customs Declaration System (CDS) platform. Using this tool, national customs information on prohibited and restricted articles in the mail can be searched and updated, serving as compendium for Article 19.1.3 of the UPU Convention. The system can be accessed at prohibitions.ptc.post.
UPU member countries requiring further information on and access to the system should contact: customs(at)upu.int.
The Prohibitions Search Tool, available under the following link, queries this Prohibitions Compendium.
WCO-UPU publications and activities
Tokyo Declaration07.06.2023Joint declaration between the World Customs Organization and the Universal Postal Union on facilitating safe, secure and efficient global trade. Signed in Tokyo, Japan, in June 2023.
21.02.2020Update: November 2016.
Guidelines for the operations involving customs clearance of international postal items.
WCO–UPU Postal Customs Guide21.02.2020The guide is an information source for Posts and for Customs administration staff dealing with postal customs clearance.
17.02.2023An article on the main discussions and outcomes of the meeting held on 8 and 9 November 2022.
UPU Customs Compendium
The UPU Customs Compendium contains country-specific information on customs clearance processes. Accessible only to authorized users (with UPU account credentials).
- Import processing of customs duties and postal charges
- Delivery of taxable/dutiable items
- Other agencies responsible for customs clearance of postal items
- Questions relating to customs declarations
- Miscellaneous information
Note on how to use the UPU Customs Compendium
Further information: customs(at)upu.int
Customs EAD Compendium