As a customs and excise officer one of your main jobs will be inspecting cargo at airports, sea ports and postal locations to ensure the correct customs duties are levied.

Customs jobs come under the civil service and are responsible for revenue collection of import duty, VAT customs and excise duties from the import and export of goods from the United Kingdom. They also enforce procedures and regulations and laws on what can and cannot be taken in or out of a country. It should be noted that your remit does not include the monitoring of people entering and leaving airports or sea ports, that is the role of the immigration officers.

Job description
As a customs officer you could be based at a number of locations, typically a international airport, a sea port or a postal location. You main role will be to focus on international trade and the collections of customs duty on freight like commodities. Revenue from goods that go out of the UK is known as export duty, and on those items that come into the country are known as import duty.

As with all customs jobs you will spend a certain amount of time inspecting consignments of cargo that may belong to individuals or traders. You will then have to check that this consignment is the correct weight and quantity and value that is stated on its customs documentation. After this you will then have to work out its correct tariff accordingly and present it as a bill to the owners of the consignment. Only after this duty has been paid will the goods be released to its owner. A tariff refers to a duty or a tax to be paid usually on goods that are being exported from out a country, and are a source of revenue for a government.

Another part of your work will be to look for those businesses that under value the goods they are importing or exporting and are therefore trying to evade paying the full customs duty. You may in some cases have to take part in prosecutions of serious offenders who may be accused of smuggling, i.e. those trying to avoid paying any customs duties. You will also be looking out for passengers trying to smuggle illegal drugs and also banned contraband into the country.

In airports officers stand by the goods to declare exit and conducts spot checks on arriving passengers. They will be looking to measure and check those duty free items like wine, tobacco etc that holidaymakers can legally bring into the country, to make sure that they do not bring in more than they are allowed. You will be checking baggage and freight and occasionally passengers themselves. As you can imagine it is a physical role where you will be opening a lot of baggage, checking vehicles, having to check documentation like airway bills, and containers.

In any type career related to this role you will have to learn the Harmonized System [also known as the H.S. code] of identification codes, these are individual codes that refer to specific items. Each code which has been developed by the World Customs Organization is a set of numbers like 18.06.82.

Those goods that need further enquiry or that have not paid their duty are stored in bonded warehouses which are also known as the customs area. As you can imagine with a job like this you will be working closely with the police, other law enforcement bodies and sometimes the Inland Revenue.

Training and qualifications
If you wish to apply directly for a position as any customs officer jobs then you should ideally be educated to degree level, although it is rare to have the opportunity be able to apply directly. Most vacancies are first advertised internally in the public sector, successful candidates are then trained up by HMRC.

An alternative way to get in is to apply for say a office based role like a administrator with in a customs department. Once you are employed there then apply for any customs vacancies that are advertised internally. If you wish to go down this route you should have a minimum of 5 GCSE’s as well as 2 A levels.

Once you have been accepted then you will be send on a training course that can last for up to 6 months, some of which may be residential.

In this role you should have the ability to be able to work on your own and also as part of a team, pay attention to detail as well as be familiar with the latest tariffs customs law regulations.

The starting salary for customs and excise jobs is in the region of £15,400 per annum, rising accordingly as they gain more experience and training.

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