Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for
collecting tariffs and for controlling the flow of goods, including
animals, transports, personal, and hazardous items, into and out of a
country. The movement of people into and out of a country is
normally monitored by migration authorities, under a variety of names
Immigration authorities normally check for
appropriate documentation, verify that a person is entitled to enter
the country, apprehend people wanted by domestic or international
arrest warrants, and impede the entry of people deemed dangerous to
the country. Compare illegal emigration.
Many[quantify] places also use K9 units.
Each country has its own laws and regulations for the import and
export of goods into and out of a country, which its customs authority
enforces. The import or export of some goods may be restricted or
forbidden. In most countries, customs are attained through
government agreements and international laws. A
customs duty is a tariff or tax on the importation (usually) or
exportation (unusually) of goods. 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
At airports, customs functions as the point of no return for all
passengers; once passengers have cleared customs, they cannot go back.
1 Red and green channels
1.1 Blue channel
1.2 Red point phone
2 Privatization of customs
3 Summary of basic custom rules
3.1 European Union
3.1.4 Czech Republic and Slovakia
3.2 North America
3.2.1 United States
3.3 South America
4 "Magic mail"
5 See also
7 External links
Red and green channels
In many countries, customs procedures for arriving passengers at many
international airports and some road crossings are separated into red
and green channels. Passengers with goods to declare (carrying
goods above the permitted customs limits and/or carrying prohibited
items) go through the red channel. Passengers with nothing to declare
(carrying goods within the permitted customs limits and not carrying
prohibited items) go through the green channel. However, entry into a
particular channel constitutes a legal declaration, if a passenger
going through the green channel is found to be carrying goods above
the customs limits or prohibited items, he or she may be prosecuted
for making a false declaration to customs, by virtue of having gone
through the green channel. Each channel is a point of no return, once
a passenger has entered a particular channel, they can not go back.
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the
United States do not
officially operate a red and green channel system; however, some
airports copy this layout.
Airports in EU countries such as Finland,
Ireland or the United
Kingdom, also have a blue channel. As the EU is a customs union,
travellers between EU countries do not have to pay customs duties.
Value-added tax 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 go
through the blue channel, where they may still be subject to checks
for prohibited or restricted goods. Luggage tickets for checked
luggage travelling within the EU are green-edged so they may be
identified. In most EU member states, travellers coming from
other EU countries can simply use the green lane.
Red point phone
All airports in the United Kingdom operate a channel system, however
some don't have a red channel, they instead have a red point phone
which serves the same purpose.
Privatization of customs
The Customs-and-duty House at the port of Haifa, Israel
Customs is part of 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 privatised their customs. This has occurred by
way of contracting pre-shipment inspection agencies, which examine the
cargo and verify the declared value before importation occurs. The
country's customs is obliged to accept the agency's report for the
purpose of assessing duties and taxes at the port of entry.
While engaging a pre-shipment inspection agency may appear justified
in a country with an inexperienced or inadequate customs
establishment, the measure has not 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. It has also been
alleged that involvement of such agencies has caused shipping
delays. Privatization of customs has been viewed as a fatal
Summary of basic custom rules
The basic customs law is harmonized across Europe within the European
Customs Union. This includes customs duties and restrictions.
Customs tax from €22 to €150. In addition, see regulations of each
For customs declarations in the EU and in Switzerland, Norway and
Iceland, the "Single Administrative Document" (SAD) is used as a
Up to €22, there are no taxes. From €22 up to €150, it is
necessary to pay VAT (EUSt in Germany), which is 7% or 19% depending
on the goods. From €150 it is necessary to pay VAT and customs.
Customs may be very strict, especially for goods shipped from anywhere
outside the EU. Up to €10 goods/package.
Customs in Italy takes additional 22% VAT (Value-added tax) for goods
imported from outside the European Union even if the VAT is already
paid to the origin country sender.
Czech Republic and Slovakia
Up to €22, there are no taxes. From €22 up to €150, it is
necessary to pay VAT (DPH in Czech/Slovak), which is 21%. From €150,
it is necessary to pay VAT and customs.
Customs may range from zero to
10% depending on the type of imported goods.
United States imposes tariffs or "customs duties" on imports of
goods: 3% on average. The duty is levied at the time of import and
is paid by the importer of record. Individuals arriving in the United
States may be exempt from duty on a limited amount of purchases, and
on goods temporarily imported (such as laptop computers) under the ATA
Customs duties vary by country of origin and product,
with duties ranging from zero to 81% of the value of the goods. Goods
from many countries are exempt from duty under various trade
agreements. Certain types of goods are exempt from duty regardless of
Customs rules differ from other import restrictions. Failure
to comply with customs rules can result in seizure of goods and civil
and criminal penalties against involved parties. The U.S.
Border Protection (CBP) enforces customs rules. All goods entering the
United States are subject to inspection by CBP prior to legal entry.
Customs may be very strict. Up to u$300 overall, there are no taxes.
From to u$300 to u$1500, tax is 50% of the value of all acquired goods
Pablo Escobar writes, in My Father Pablo Escobar, "At the time
Pablo Escobar was trafficking cocaine, Colombia's major airports had
what was known as "magic mail", a sort of parallel customs system that
made it possible to bring anything into the country without leaving a
paper trail - in exchange for a fat bribe."
Australian Border Force
Canada Border Services Agency
Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism
Customs and Indirect Taxes
United Kingdom Border Force
Customs and Border Protection
^ "customs". WordReference. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
^ a b Chowdhury, F. L. (1992) Evasion of
Customs Duty in Bangladesh,
unpublished MBA dissertation submitted to Monash University,
^ "Dual-Channel System (
Customs Clearance)". Ica.gov.sg. Retrieved
^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). Web.archive.org. 19 March 2009. Retrieved
31 December 2017.
^ "EUROPA - Taxation and
Customs Union / Baggage controls".
Ec.europa.eu. 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
^ [dead link]
^ a b Chowdhury, F. L. (2006) Corrupt bureaucracy and privatization of
Customs in Bangladesh, Pathok Samabesh, Dhaka.
^ "The single administrative document (SAD) - Taxation and customs
union - European Commission". Taxation and customs union. Retrieved 31
^ "Federation of International Trade Associations, country
profile : United States". Fita.org. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
Customs services by country
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Customs services of Ivory Coast Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)
São Tomé and Príncipe
Republic of China (Taiwan)
East Timor (Timor-Leste)
United Arab Emirates
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Serbia and Montenegro