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Customs and Excise Officer Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Customs and Excise Officer. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Customs and Excise Officer
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Customs and Excise Officer Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

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 ensue that excise regulations are being upheld and the correct amount of duty is being paid; they take legal action where necessary. This role includes preparing reports, answering correspondence and enquiries, and collecting information from suspects and witnesses. They 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, home office and the Inland Revenue. Customs, excise, and VAT assurance officers are classed as junior managers and may work independently or as a member of a team.

Hours and Environment

Most officers work a 37 hour week (36 in London) Monday to Friday. 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.

Some work may be dirty and hazardous.

Skills and Interests

To be a customs and excise officer, you should:

  • be able to work on your own and in a team
  • have good listening and questioning skills
  • be able to analyse information and make decisions
  • be able to present information in a clear and logical way
  • be tactful and polite
  • be honest and fair in applying the rules
  • be numerate, able to interpret accounts and make calculations
  • be able to solve problems and make decisions
  • be able to work accurately, pay close attention to detail and notice inconsistencies.


Entrants are either recruited directly by Customs and Excise as junior managers (band 5), or centrally via open competition on fast stream entry. It is unusual to start directly as a customs officer.

The minimum educational entry requirements are:

Band 5 - five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) including two subjects at A level or equivalent. One pass must be in English Language. Many enter with a degree.

Fast Stream - a second class honours degree or equivalent, but most successful applicants have first or upper second class honours. Fast stream entry is available into any department of the Civil Service, and although applicants can express preferences, allocation to Customs and Excise is not guaranteed.

For those without the above qualifications it is possible to join at lower levels (bands 2-4) and progress to become customs, excise or VAT assurance officers.

Entry qualifications are:

Band 2 - two GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent, which must include English Language.

Band 3/4 - five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent, which must include English Language.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority
There are statutory provisions relating to nationality and employment within the Civil Service.

The upper age limit to enter as a customs or excise officer, or VAT assurance officer (band 5) is 55. To enter at bands 2-4, the upper age limit is 59.


Training as a customs, excise or VAT assurance officer begins with a structured programme introducing you to the department. Training is likely to last up to nine months and may include some residential training courses. Most of the detailed technical training will take place at work learning from more experienced officers.


The Customs and Excise department has around 24,000 staff based all over the country, 40% working on VAT collection. Some 600 officers are involved in specialist investigation.

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.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guide only.

All officers are likely to start at around £15,600 rising by increments to around £19,700.
With experience and promotion earnings are between £22,560 and £26,570.
Those in more senior jobs can earn between £30,870 and £44,560.
It is possible to go on to become a senior civil servant earning in excess of £44,560.

Additional allowances are paid for working unsocial hours. Performance related pay has been introduced. Those working in and around London may receive an additional cost of living allowance.

Further information

Civil Service Careers
MM Group
Units 2-5 Lescren Way
BS11 8DG

Fast Stream Development Programme
Capita RAS
Innovation Court
New Street
RG21 7JB
Tel: 01256 383683

HM Customs and Excise

Other Useful Customs and Excise Officer Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Customs and Excise Officer job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Customs and Excise Officer Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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