The Institute of Customs and International Trade Law was evolved from the collaboration of the AWA Außenwirtschafts-Akademie GmbH (Foreign Trade Academy) and the former Department of Customs and Excise, which formed part of the Institute of Tax Law at the University of Muenster. Since October 2016 the Institute of Customs and International Trade Law is an autonomous Institute of the University of Muenster. The institute is headed by Prof. Dr. Hans-Michael Wolffgang.
The former Department of Customs and Excise was created in 1995 with the aim of promoting research into customs-related topics of both national and international importance as well as raising the profile of customs within the law faculty and business school.
Many research projects in the field of customs and excise have been conducted under this department and more projects are now under way under the Institute of Customs and International Trade Law. The institute also gives expert advice to the government in customs and excise matters.
Since 2005 the University of Münster offers a postgraduate course titled “Master of Customs Administration”. This course provides both scientific and practical knowledge in the field of customs policy, law and administration. Many customs officials particularly from Southern and Eastern African Countries have already successfully completed the course, which is a big contribution to the capacity building of their respective customs administrations.
Collaboration with both national and international bodies committed to the development and strengthening of customs administrations is a salient characteristic of the Institute of Customs and International Trade Law. For instance, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the World Customs Organisation and the former Institute of Tax Law - Department of Customs and Excise. Moreover, the University of Münster is a founding member of the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU) which was founded in 2005 with a view to creating a comprehensive database of universities and other institutions involved in Customs research, education, development and capacity building activities.
Further, there is collaboration with other universities and institutions dedicated to customs-related research and education such as the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies at the University of Canberra, the Customs Policy and Law Department at the University of Economics, in Warsaw, Poland, the Institute of tax law at the University of Valencia and many others.