The Directorate-general of customs and indirect taxes
(Direction générale des douanes et droits indirects, DGDDI) is a French law enforcement agency
responsible for levying indirect taxes, preventing smuggling, surveilling borders, and investigating counterfeit money. The agency acts as a coast guard
, border guard
, sea rescue
organisation and immigration
service, as well as a customs
The Directorate-General is controlled by the Finance Ministry (Ministère du Budget, des Comptes publics et de la Fonction publique). It is normally known simply as "la Douane", individual officers being referred to as "douaniers".
The first French customs service was called the General Firm (Ferme générale) and operated under the monarchy
During the revolutionary period, a military customs service was formed, which provided a customs service but also fought in major wars such as the Franco-Prussian War
and the First World War
The military customs service fought in the early part of the Second World War but was disbanded in 1940 after the French defeat and was never reconstituted as a military service. Nonetheless small units of customs men from customs posts in French Indochina fought against the Japanese as guerilla units until the end of the war.
The customs headquarters is in Montreuil (Paris).
The agency consists of three types of unit:
- Administration centrale
- Sub-directorates A to F
- Département des statistiques et des études économiques
- Inspection des services (IS) for internal auditing
- Bureau de l'information et de la communication (BIC) for communications
- Cellule de contrôle de gestion
- National Competence Services
- Direction nationale du recrutement et de la formation professionnelle (DNRFP) based in Tourcoing
- Direction nationale du renseignement et des enquêtes douanières (DNRED) against fraud
- Direction nationale des statistiques et du commerce extérieur (DNSCE), a statistaical service based in Toulouse
- Centre informatique douanier (CID), an information technology sewrvice based in Osny
- Service nationale de la douane judiciaire (SNDJ), a judicial investigative service based in Vincennes.
- Service commun des laboratoires (SCL), providing scientific support in laboratories
France is divided into 39 customs regions, which are grouped into 12 customs "inter-regions".
A customs region typically consists of:
- Managerial, training and logistic services
- Cutoms Offices: dealing with commerce
- Customs Brigades: Squads dealing with surveillance
- A regional unit
- A wines unit
As well as the 39 customs regions there are 4 coastguard regions: Channel & North Sea, Nantes, Marseille, Antilles-Guyana).
Customs officials of all ranks wear French rank insignia based on that of the army. However, the ranks should not be seen as equivalent to the army rank insignia used.
Customs agents (agents de constatation) wear the rank badges of French army senior NCOs:
- Customs Agent 2
- Customs Agent 1
- Principal Customs Agent 2
- Principal Customs Agent 1
Controllers are more senior and wear the rank badges of French army junior officers:
- Controller 2
- Controller 1
- Principal Controller
Inspectors are more senior and wear the rank badges of the French army ranks of commandant and lieutenant-colonel:
- Principal Inspector