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A customs territory is a geographic territory with uniform customs regulations. Existing customs territories consists fall into several types:

There are also some unregulated lands (usually uninhabited) not part of any customs territory.

As of 2010, most customs unions rarely operate as a single entity and are represented in relations with other customs territories either jointly by their member states governments and the union institutions or by only the member states. Thus, in practice, they rarely appear as a single customs territory and instead they operate as a multiple separate customs territories that have the same or similar customs tariff. The European Union (EU) is the only trade bloc in which the union institutions have exclusive competence over the common external tariff and thus sign and ratify agreements with foreign states without direct participation of the EU member states.[1] The EU is also the only trade bloc member of the World Trade Organization, but the EU member states are continuing their own separate memberships, as not all of the WTO issues fall within the scope of exclusive EU competences.

The governing organs (government or other responsible administrative entity for the states and territories, secretariat or similar international organization body for the trade blocs) of the customs territories negotiate and sign trade agreements. In some cases the negotiations are conducted by a trade bloc secretariat, but the actual agreement is signed by the member states of the trade bloc. It is also possible for a group of customs territories, that do not form a customs union (regardless if they cooperate as a different type of trade bloc), to negotiate trade agreements together and to sign the resulting agreement individually (for example, the European Free Trade Association).

A customs territory usually has inspection stations at its borders. There can also be border checks between two parts of the same customs territory. For example, there are border checks between the Schengen Area portions of the EU customs territory and those portions in the Common Travel Area formed by the United Kingdom, Crown Dependencies, and Ireland. Another example is the border checks between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, which are in a customs union. The European Union example is particularly complicated, since it also has different boundaries for EU VAT area, the EU excise duty area, the area where EU law applies, and the area considered by the EU statistics agency.


List of customs territoriesEdit

Sovereign states (including freely associated states), which typically have independent customs policies, are enumerated on the list of sovereign states. These include both freely associated states and partially recognized states.[citation needed]

Countries which are members of a customs union, which in some cases may be considered a single customs territory:[2]

The customs territory of the   United States includes the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and   Puerto Rico.[6] The following dependent United States territories are outside the customs territory and most administer customs separately:[7]

The main customs territory of the   People's Republic of China does not include:

The following dependent territories have independent customs policies from the main part of the sovereign country of which they are a part:[citation needed]

Antarctica has no domestic government; the Antarctic Treaty System governs administration of various expeditions by sovereign states.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Example: Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related matters between the European Community, of the one part, and the Republic of Montenegro, of the other part.
  2. ^ see the list of customs unions for references
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Some of the special EU member state territories are covered by EU law (Art.52 TEU and Art.355 TFEU), but nevertheless remain outside the EU customs territory. "Annex 1: Overview of European Union countries" (PDF). Retrieved 21 Apr 2014.
  6. ^ 19 C.F.R. 101.1
  7. ^ 19 C.F.R. 7.2
  8. ^ Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei), World Trade Organization, retrieved 2014-09-10, Chinese Taipei has been a member of WTO since 1 January 2002.

External linksEdit