Customs, Tolls or Duties of the Corporation of Kinsale (1788)

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, transports, 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 authority 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. 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. 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 authorised ports are recognised 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 officially operate a red and green channel system, however some airports copy this layout.

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 and alcohol products being imported from other 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

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 privatised 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]

Summary of basic custom rules


Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a free port and generally does not impose duties on imported or exported goods, with the exceptions of liquors, tobacco, methyl alcohol and hydrocarbon oil.[7][8] 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 19 cigarettes or 15 cigars.[9]


No customs for mailed goods below or equal to US$50. Customs policy may be different in Batam free trade zone.


Customs prohibits the import or export of PHP10,000 (approximately USD220) of local currency instruments (e.g. Philippine peso banknotes) without the prior authority of the central bank. However, bringing in of USD10,000 or higher (or its foreign currency equivalent) may be brought in or out but it must be declared in writing.

Theoretically, the import and export of controlled goods needs clearance from the relevant government agencies regulating such goods.

European Union

The basic customs law is harmonised 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 shipped goods (from anywhere outside the EU). Up to 10€ goods/package there are no taxes (it is free). Taxes may be stiff. There may be an outgoing custom tax too.[citation needed]


Up to 22€ there are no taxes (it is free). From 22€ up to 150€, it is necessary to pay VAT (DPH in Slovak) which is 21%. From 150€ it is necessary to pay VAT and customs. Customs may be from 0 to 10%, the amount depending on the type of imported goods.


No customs for mailed goods below or equal to 300GEL (App US$160) including transportation. See currency exchange rate at National Bank of Georgia Web site:

North America


The United States imposes tariffs or customs duties on imports of goods that are among the lowest in the world : 3% on average.[10] 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 Carnet system. 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 source. Customs rules differ from other import restrictions. Failure to properly comply with customs rules can result in seizure of goods and civil and criminal penalties against involved parties. United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) enforces customs rules. All goods entering the United States are subject to inspection by CBP prior to legal entry.

See also


External links

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  • customs — n. 1) to clear, get through, go through, pass through customs (we got through customs very quickly) 2) to dear, get smt. through customs (we got the toys through customs without difficulty) 3) to declare smt. at customs * * * [ kʌstəmz] get… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • customs — / kʌstəmz/ plural noun the government department which organises the collection of taxes on imports, or an office of this department at a port or airport ● He was stopped by customs. ● Her car was searched by customs. ♦ to go through customs to… …   Marketing dictionary in english

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