Customs and Excise officer

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Phil works as a Customs and Excise officer observing passengers as they go through the green (nothing to declare) channel at a regional airport. He also operates at the red point, collecting duty on declared items.

What are a customs and excise officers main duties?

My job is to stop the illegal import or export of controlled drugs, drug money, firearms, indecent and obscene materials, and endangered species.

What does a Customs and Excise officers do?

are trained in what to look out for – things like people travelling on their own on family holiday flights, unusual behaviour, or too many – or too few – bags. None of these things mean that someone is definitely smuggling, but you tend to develop a sixth sense! Our suspicions are raised if the passenger is evasive in answering our questions, or a baggage search reveals that the passenger is a drug user.

How is your work organised?

We work in teams and whilst we try to cover all flights, and pay particular attention to those which pose the greatest risk. Sometimes, we highlight certain flights on the basis of information received and indications from drug detector dogs.

Between flights, I spend time catching up on paperwork and patrolling the airport. We carry radios and may be called to assist security, baggage handling or immigration staff.

What does a Customs and Excise officer do when you find illegal goods?

It depends on what we find. If we find drugs, we arrest the carrier and take them to the cells for interviewing. Just like the police, we read a caution, use handcuffs if necessary and record interviews.We also keep a notebook and record everything that happens. If a case goes to court we need to be able to recall our questions, the responses, dates, times, witnesses, and so on.

How do people react to your questions?

Mostly they are okay, but we do have to deal with angry or abusive people sometimes.We are trained to deal with all eventualities.

What hours does a Customs and Excise officer work?

How many hours does a Customs and Excise officer work? We work a shift system as there always needs to be a team of customs officials available when passengers arrive. I work a normal 36-hour week but I may have to work overtime to finish questioning a suspect, for instance, at the end of my shift.

What training does a Customs and Excise officer receive?

Initial training is over a nine-week period. I then undertook on-the-job training at the airport. I am going on courses continually on various topics that range from learning how to protect myself from angry/abusive people to updating my knowledge on new detection methods and equipment.

How to become a Customs and Excise officer?

  • GCSEs and A levels.
  • Two years as a police officer.
  • Transferred to HM Customs and Excise.

How do you become a Customs and Excise officer tips

  • You must be able to talk easily and build a rapport with people.
  • Working on shifts at unsociable times such as weekends is one of the conditions of the job.

Customs and Excise officer related jobs












  • Army soldier
  • Crime scene investigator/Scenes of crime officer (SOCO)
  • Police officer
  • Security officer/manager

What is the salary of a Customs and Excise officer?

  • How much does a Customs and Excise officer earn? HM Customs and Excise pay is governed by Civil Service scales. Officers earn from £18,380 and can make upto £23,930.
  • There may also be an additional cost-of-living allowance for working in and around London, plus extra payments for overtime and public holidays.

What do you need to become a Customs and Excise officer?

  • Frontline anti-smuggling work usually requires previous experience of work in Customs and Excise.
  • There are several entry levels to Customs and Excise (the Civil Service), including basic clerical posts which require at least two GCSE/S grades, and management posts which require two A levels/H grades and three GCSEs/S grades, including English.
  • There are good opportunities to gain experience and move into specialist areas like passenger control, operations intelligence and related units, such as freight control and the dog unit.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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