Although Customs and Excise are perhaps best known for their work
in fighting drug trafficking and other illegal trade, their role is much
broader and includes three main areas:
Customs officers work in sea, air, and postal customs locations examining and clearing passengers, baggage, freight or mail to ensure that there are no smuggled or excess goods. They process customs documentation and when necessary attend court as official witnesses. It is possible to specialise as an anti-smuggling officer working as part of the Law Enforcement Unit.
Excise officers visit business premises such as distilleries, oil refineries and importers to ensure that excise regulations are being upheld and the correct amount of duty is being paid, and take legal action where necessary. The role includes preparing reports, answering correspondence and enquiries, and collecting information from suspects and witnesses. Officers may be required to attend court as an official witness.
VAT assurance officers visit local businesses to provide technical advice and to check they are accounting for VAT correctly, and understand the relevant laws.
All officers liaise with and provide assistance to external agencies such as the police and the home office. Customs, excise, and VAT assurance officers are classed as Civil Service junior managers, and may work independently or as part of a team.
New areas of work in customs and excise develop with changes in business and trade. For example, recent developments include e-business and the promotion of energy efficiency. As such, many people who wish to work in this area will benefit from taking a customs and excise training course
because this will include all the latest information in this area.
Most officers work around 36 hours a week over five days, although overtime may sometimes be necessary. Uniformed customs officers work shifts including evenings, nights and weekends. Flexitime, job sharing or part-time work may be available.
In addition to working in offices, VAT and excise officers will travel to customers’ premises, and uniformed customs officers will sometimes work from customs halls and interview rooms at airports and ports.
Some work may be dirty and hazardous.
To be a customs and excise officer, you should:
HM Revenue and Customs has around 23,000 staff based all over the country, working in tax, customs and excise. There are frequent opportunities at all levels.
From junior manager (band 5/6)
positions, it is possible to move into more senior positions and
ultimately to senior civil servant. There are also opportunities to
move into specialist areas such as computing or auditing. Officers
may be expected to move to other parts of the country.
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