Skip to Main Navigation
Video October 31, 2022

Single Window: A Path to Paperless Trade

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the automation of border processes and procedures for trade has become a necessity. Watch this video to understand the benefits of adopting digital trade procedures, and the steps necessary to implement a successful paperless trade infrastructure.

A single window is an effective trade facilitation tool that links all relevant government agencies, service providers and traders, and enables them to exchange the required information, clearances and payments through a single online portal.

Single windows = benefits

Implementing a single window can have enormous benefits for governments, customs, traders and the economy by making trader faster, cheaper, easier, more transparent and predictable.

  • For governments: compliance with trade rules, improved resource allocation, better trade statistics, and increased revenue
  • For traders: faster clearance times, lower operational costs, more transparent and predictable processes, and less bureaucracy
  • For customs: improved staff productivity, enhanced professionalism, and better coordination between administrations
  • For the economy as a whole: improved transparency and governance, and reduced corruption.

How to set up a single window

Step 1. Establish a vision
Guarantee strong leadership from The government should lead the development and implementation of a roadmap. It should be collaboratively designed with the private sector and consider international standards, such as the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and UNECE Recommendation 33. A strong roadmap will help secure public–private cooperation.

Step 2: Computerize
Automate trade documents and procedures. Start with a needs assessment to map out requirements and develop enabling legislation.

Step 3: Automate the process
Automate the agency’s internal processes. Select a contractor to develop strong IT infrastructure that is user-friendly and includes an e-payment system for the collection of customs duties, and agency fees and charges.

Step 4: Manage the change
Roll out the single window in phase. Provide a training and technical support program… so that all existing agencies and traders understand how to use the new system. Plans for continuous improvements along the way.

Step 5: Promote uptake and buy-in
Engage the public and private sectors at all stages of the process by organizing training sessions and publicity campaigns.

The World Bank Group is committed to helping countries with their trade facilitation efforts, like the single window, to create strong and competitive trade markets.

Support for the initiative was provided by the World Bank Group with funding from the Trade Facilitation Support Program (TFSP). The TFSP is funded by nine donor partners: Australia, Canada, the European Commission, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The program  provides assistance to countries seeking to align their trade practices with the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA).