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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Customs, Tolls or Duties of the Corporation of Kinsale - 1788 (click image to enlarge)

Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country. Depending on local legislation and regulations, the import or export of some goods may be restricted or forbidden, and the customs agency enforces these rules.[1] The customs LEBA may be different from the immigration authority, which monitors persons who leave or enter the country, checking for appropriate documentation, apprehending people wanted by international arrest warrants, and impeding the entry of others deemed dangerous to the country.

A customs duty is a tariff or tax on the export of goods. In the Kingdom of England, customs duties were typically part of the customary revenue of the king, and therefore did not need parliamentary consent to be levied, unlike excise duty, land tax, or other forms of taxes.

Commercial goods not yet cleared through customs are held in a customs area, often called a bonded store, until processed. All authorized ports are recognized customs area.


Red and Green Channels

Customs procedures for arriving passengers at many international airports, and some road crossings, are separated into Red and Green Channels.[2][3] Passengers with goods to declare (carrying items above the permitted customs limits and/or carrying prohibited items) should go through the Red Channel. Passengers with nothing to declare (carrying goods within the customs limits only and not carrying prohibited items) can go through the Green Channel. Passengers going through the Green Channel are only subject to spot checks and save time. But, if a passenger going through the Green Channel is found to have goods above the customs limits on them or carrying prohibited items, they may be prosecuted for making a false declaration to customs, by virtue of having gone through the Green Channel.

Canada and the United States do not operate a red and green channel system.

Airports within the EU also have a Blue Channel. As the EU is a customs union, travellers between EU countries do not have to pay customs duties. VAT and Excise duties may be applicable if the goods are subsequently sold, but these are collected when the goods are sold, not at the border. Passengers arriving from other EU countries should go through the Blue Channel, where they may still be subject to checks for prohibited or restricted goods. In addition, limitations exist on various tobacco products being imported from certain newly-joined EU member states and use of the Blue Channel if those limitations are being exceeded would be inappropriate. Luggage tickets for checked in luggage within the EU are green-edged so they may be identified.[4][5] UK policy is that entry into a particular Channel constitutes a legal declaration.

Privatization of customs

Border control in the United States

Customs is an important part of the government involved in one of the three basic functions of a government, namely, administration, maintenance of law, order and justice and collection of revenue. However, in a bid to mitigate corruption, many countries have partly privatized its Customs. This has occurred by way of engagement of Pre-shipment Inspection Agencies who examine the cargo and verify the declared value before importation is effected and the nation Customs is obliged to accept the report of the agency for the purpose of assessment of leviable duties and taxes at the port of entry. While engaging a preshipment inspection agency may appear justified in a country with an inexperienced or inadequate Customs establishment, the measure has not really been able to plug the loophole and protect revenue. It has been found that evasion of Customs duty escalated when pre-shipment agencies took over.[6] It has also been alleged that such involvement of such agencies has been causing delays in the shipment process.[1] Privatization of Customs has been viewed as a fatal remedy.[6]

Customs services by country

Country Customs Service
 Argentina Dirección General de Aduanas
 Australia Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
 Bolivia Aduana Nacional de Bolivia
 Brazil Receita Federal Brasileira
 Canada Canada Border Services Agency / Agence des services frontaliers du Canada
 China Chinese Maritime Customs Service
 Colombia Policia Fiscal y Aduanera
 Czech Republic Customs Administration of the Czech Republic (Czech: "Celní správa České republiky". )
 Egypt Egyptian Customs Authority [1]
 Finland Tullilaitos [2]
 France Direction Générale des Douanes
 Germany Zollkriminalamt
 Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department
 Iceland Directorate of Customs
 Ireland Office of the Revenue Commissioners - Customs Division [3]
 Indonesia Direktorat Jenderal Bea dan Cukai
 Italy Agenzia delle Dogane [4]
 Laos Lao PDR Customs
 Maldives Maldives Customs Service
 Morocco Administration des Douanes et Impôts Indirects [5]
 Mexico Administración General de Aduanas
 Netherlands Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Dutch: Belastingdienst)
 Norway Tollverket
 New Zealand New Zealand Customs Service
 Peru Superintendencia Nacional de Administracion Tributaria
 Philippines Bureau of Customs
 Poland Customs Service
 Portugal Direcção-geral das Alfândegas e dos Impostos Especiais sobre o Consumo
 Romania Autoritatea Nationala a Vămilor
Garda Financiară / Financial guard  ; Poliţia de Frontieră / Border patrol
 Russia Federal Customs Service of Russia (Russian: Федеральная таможенная служба России)
 Slovakia Custom Service of Slovakia (Slovak: "Colná správa Slovenskej republiky". )
 Spain Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera
 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Customs
 Sweden Tullverket
 Turkey Turkish Customs Administration [6]
 United Kingdom UK Border Agency
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
 Ukraine Ukrainian customs [7]
 United States U.S. Customs and Border Protection [8]
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [9]|

Summary of basic custom rules



  • No customs for mailed goods below $20 CAD.[7]
  • No customs for gifts below $60 CAD.[8]
  • Personal exemption amount is given to all household or personal use items imported from another country. The amount depends on the time spent outside of Canada and only accounts for Federal taxes and duties (provincial taxes may still apply). They cannot be combined with another person nor by multiplying them (i.e. 21 days outside of Canada does not equal to $2250 exemption)[9]
    • 24 hours or less = $0 CAD
    • 24–47 hours = $50 CAD
    • 48–7 days = $400 CAD
    • 7 days or more = $750 CAD
    • Immigrants, in general, have a one time unlimited import allowance. However, certain articles are restricted from importation (i.e. vehicles not meeting Canadian safety standards, firearms, etc)


The basic customs law is harmonized across Europe. This includes customs duties and restrictions. Customs tax from 150 €. In addition, see regulations of each Member State.


From 22 € is VAT payable. National restrictions especially in weapons and drugs.


Customs may be very strict, especially for mailed goods (from outside the EU). No known lower limit. Taxes may be stiff. There may be an outgoing custom tax too.[citation needed]


Up to 22€ there is no taxes (it's free). From 22€ up to 150€, there is need to pay VAT (DPH in slovak) which is 19%. From 150€ there is need to pay VAT and customs. Customs may be from 0 to 10% and amount depends on type of imported good.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a free port and generally do not impose duties on imported or exported goods, with the exception of liquors, tobacco, methyl alcohol and hydrocarbon oil.[10][11] Residents leaving the territory with a valid Hong Kong Identity Card for 24 hours or more may import up to 1 litre of alcohol and 60 cigarettes or 15 cigars.[12]

See also


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CUSTOMS DUTIES, the name given to taxes on the import and export of commodities. They rank among the most ancient, as they continue to prevail as one of the most common modes, in all countries, of levying revenue for public purposes. In an insular country like the United Kingdom customs duties came in process of time to be levied only or chiefly in the seaports, and thus applied only to the foreign commerce, where they may be brought under the control of fair and reasonable principles of taxation. But this simplification of customs duties was only reached by degrees; and during a long period special customs were levied on goods passing between England and Scotland; and the trade of Ireland with Great Britain and with foreign countries was subjected to fiscal regulations which could not now stand in the light of public reason. The taxes levied, on warrant of some ancient grant or privilege, upon cattle or goods at a bridge or a ferry or other point of passage from one county or province to another, of which there are some lingering remains even in the United Kingdom, and those levied at the gates of cities on the produce of the immediate country - a not uncommon form of municipal taxation on the European continent - are all of the nature of customs dues. It is from the universality of this practice that the English term "customs" appears to have been derived.

See Taxation; Protection; Tariff.

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