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Updating flagship Recommendation on Single Window to further facilitate e-Trade

Updating flagship Recommendation on Single Window to further facilitate e-Trade

For over a decade, the UNECE Recommendation 33 on Single Window has been the cornerstone definition for this trade facilitation tool enabling streamlined border-crossing procedures and allowing traders to submit all export-import related information to a single entry point. This definition is the basis for guidance in other organizations such as the World Trade Organization and its Trade Facilitation Agreement, the World Customs Organization and its Compendium on Single Window, as well as in many economies around the world, including the European Union and its member countries, and the Eurasian Economic Union and its Member-States.

However, since the first publication of this original guidance on Single Window in 2004, the economic situation and technological environment have evolved considerably. Today we speak of big data, blockchain, internet of things, and also regional single windows or even multiple single windows within the same economy. The 2004 guidance, though still pertinent, is in need of a revision.

The UNECE 4th International Conference on Single Window, held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 30 and 31 October 2017, resulted in a series of proposals for the way forward, detailing considerations which should be integrated into a revision of Recommendation 33.

These include developments to ensure the ongoing adaptability of Single Window in the context of rapid technological advances, together with provisions to account for its evolving use at global, regional and national levels.

The proposals also call for the development of a recommendation on Single Submission Portals, which are private sector initiatives offering similar trade facilitation tools for traders. Looking ahead, they further call to explore synergies with other e-Document-based trade facilitation tools including in the areas of customs transit and electronic certification in supply chain management.

The proposal invites the active engagement of all stakeholders from governments, regional integration organizations, civil society, businesses, international organizations and academia in the revision of Recommendation 33.

The full list of proposals for the revision of Recommendation 33 is available at:

The text of current UNECE Recommendation 33 is available at:

For more information, please visit:

Contact: Lance Thompson, Chief, UN/CEFACT Support Unit,

Note to editors

With over thirty years of experience in Trade Facilitation and e-Business standards, UNECE and UN/CEFACT (the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and e-Business) continue to support e-Trade and its accessibility to all actors including MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) from every region of the world.

About Single Window

As defined by Recommendation 33 “Recommendation and Guidelines on establishing a Single Window”, a Single Window is “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once.”

Recommendation 33 continues to help Governments and businesses improve how they exchange information to meet necessary regulatory and administrative requirements. Recommendation 33 also gives practical advice for planning and implementing a Single Window facility and offers guidance on how to make its operation sustainable and on how to further develop a Single Window’s possibilities where this is desired.  It also points to the existing international standards on introducing a Single Window and shows how Governments and trading communities can derive the greatest benefits. Its proposed revision would help to further strengthen its role in facilitating e-Trade in light of developments in economic conditions and available technology. 

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34


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