Customs officer


A customs officer is a law officer who enforces customs laws, on behalf of a government.

Customs Officers in the United Kingdom

Officers working for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) collect a range of taxes and duties, control imported and exported goods, and prevent banned items from entering or leaving the United Kingdom.

Border protection (customs) officers work in airports, ports and freight terminals to collect customs duty and prevent smuggling and illegal trade. Their duties include:

  • searching luggage, vehicles and travellers
  • checking customs documents
  • questioning people who have been found with illegal items or excess goods
  • arresting and charging people
  • preparing reports and witness statements
  • taking on specialist roles such as dog handling or undercover and surveillance work.

Excise officers or VAT assurance officers, make sure that businesses pay the right amount of excise duty and/or VAT, by:

  • visiting businesses to audit their accounts
  • advising traders about the law, and how to improve their accounting methods
  • preparing reports
  • taking legal action to make businesses pay what they owe.

They occasionally attend court as witnesses, and work closely with other agencies like the police and the Home Office.

Customs Officers in the United States

In the United States, a customs officer is a Federal law enforcement officer working to enforce customs laws as well as over 400 laws for all Federal Agencies. Customs Officers enforce these laws on every person or thing that enters or leaves U.S. some include; detecting and confiscating contraband, making sure that import duties are paid, and preventing those without legal authorization to do so from entering the Untied States. In the past, the United States, customs officers were part of the Department of Treasury and were the oldest Law Enforcement Agency in the U.S. dating back to 1789. U.S. Customs (CBP) is the 2nd highest revenue collector in the United States though fines , collection of duties, and illegal money seized, only the IRS collects more money for the Federal Government. Every day U.S. Customs arrests 135 suspects of different crimes, seizes 2,313 pounds of narcotics, confiscate 196 firearms, intercept 210 fraudulent documents, prevents 54 criminal aliens from entering the U.S., and arrests 1 suspected terrorist. Customs Officers hold the most authority of any Law Enforcement agency. They need no probable cause to search, detain, or seize anything or any person. Today customs officers work for the Department of Homeland Security with-in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Customs Officers are at every international Airport, Seaport, and all land border crossings.

Customs Officers in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Customs And Excise Department (HKC&E) is headed by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise. As at April 1, 2004, the department has an establishment of 4 931 posts, of which nine are directorate officers, 3 804 are members of the Customs and Excise Service, 504 are Trade Controls Officers and 614 are staff of the General and Common Grades.

Hong Kong is one of the busiest container ports in the world. It handled 20.4 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in 2003. Of these, 12.1 million TEUs were handled at the Kwai Chung Container Terminal. In 2003, 70 910 ocean-going ships and 365 190 coastal vessels entered and left Hong Kong.

Ships and vessels are subject to customs check. Cargoes are either examined on board sea freighters or after off-loading.

In 2003, a total of 8.6 million passengers arrived in Hong Kong from the Mainland and Macau by sea and by helicopters. They were processed at the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui and the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Central. In addition, a daily average of 49 helicopter flights between Hong Kong and Macau are operated at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal. Four Customs launches conduct maritime patrol in the territorial waters round the clock whereas four high-speed pursuit crafts and two shallow water patrol launches are employed to carry out interception at sea. The C&ED is an active member of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). It exchanges intelligence and works closely with overseas customs administrations and law enforcement agencies. The department has also entered bilateral Cooperative Arrangements with other customs authorities on administrative assistance. At the working level, the department and the Mainland customs have each established designated liaison officers to facilitate the exchange of intelligence through direct telephone hotlines.


  • To protect the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region against smuggling
  • To protect and collect revenue on dutiable goods
  • To detect and deter narcotics trafficking and abuse of narcotic drugs
  • To protect intellectual property rights
  • To protect consumer interests
  • To protect and facilitate legitimate trade and industry and to uphold Hong Kong's trading integrity
  • To fulfill international obligations


  • Professionalism and Respect
  • Lawfulness and Justice
  • Accountability and Integrity
  • Foresight and Innovation

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