Is the Customs Officer Always Right?



The following article is written by Customs Officer, Arleigh Durant, for CESS NEWS (Customs and Excise Shop Stewards News). The shop stewards at Customs use CESS as an avenue to disseminate news among the staff.

A member of the business community was having a candid conversation with a Customs officer. The businessman told the officer “time is money I have instructed my broker to do whatever customs require. If the customs officers wants to up my values or change the tariff number so that I have to pay more duty, I am not wasting my time quarrelling with them. I will pay whatever they want me to pay. That additional cost is passed on to the consumer. My bottom line will not be affected. That man in Enforcement or the one in Outdoor they can do as they like “. We are all consumers; the price of items can erode our purchasing power. There is no special price for Customs workers.

The way Customs does business is critical to the survival of some small businesses. The big businesses may be able to pass on the cost. With the small business increased cost could cause the business to close down. In these hard economic times one must take into consideration the commercial realities and our societal duty to assist the national efforts to keep people employed. With people out of work, there is a greater threat to the society. Crime and violence will increase. Our tourism industry can be crushed by the ravages of crime and violence.

Drugs, guns, ammunition the customs can still use the big stick to crush anyone involved in illegal activities with respect to these items. However for commercial imports there must be a mix of enforcement and facilitation. One should seek to get the importer to become compliant not to close down his business BY REFUSING TO DELIVER HIS GOODS. A customer friendly Customs is not a weak one. One can be polite and still get the job done. The tourism authority had the slogan tourism is our business lets pay our parts.

We must learn to work smarter; we must learn to worker quicker, we must develop systems of transparency.

We must by our genuine interest in our customers and our professional approach win back the respect of the business community.

The Customs operate in a symbiotic relationship with the business community. If there is less trade there will be less need for our services.

Let us work in partnership with the business community as we try to carry out our mission statement. To expedite and facilitate legitimate trade and travel, while collecting and protecting government revenue, safeguarding the health, security and economic viability of our nation and continually providing high quality service to all persons.

0 thoughts on “Is the Customs Officer Always Right?

  1. Barbados customs has begun charging excise and vat on tourists bringing what is considered duty free legal amount of tobacco everywhere in the world.a tourist friend was recently charged over 200 dollars for cigarettes despite the normal 1carton per adult. Is this how we want to treat tourists?wake up kill the goose kill yourself haven’t they read the story.freundal step up or your grand kids may be the ones to pay.lots of competition out there.

    • The challenge is always to get employees to understand how their contributions tie in to the vision. In this case do custom offers understand how by being efficient they can add to national productivity?

  2. @david
    Thata challenge applies to all sectors. Vision and roles can only be communicated by leaders. Leaders can only do so if they have a clue to begin with and can see the big picture for themselves.

    Will the real leaders please stand up??


  3. @ Concerned
    I agree with you that it usually is the duty free legal amount of tobacco most everywhere in the world, at least in the so called “developed” world that we so aspire to.

    Wasn’t it the late PM Thompson who mandated that? Can’t blame customs for enforcing. Put the blame where it should go.

  4. This is an excellent article, written by a customs officer. I am sure that he surprised many of you. Rest assured, this is the type of thinking that is the norm for a majority of customs officers. Unfortunately, the public is only fed a diet of negativity on which to judge Customs because the bad examples get amplified.

  5. The way you as a citizen of this country is treated by Customs is dependant on the officer’s mood. On one of my travels, I was directed to be checked, the officer asked me how money I spent, checked my passport for the bank stamp and then proceeded to search. He then told me go and pay $125.00. Of course, I asked him for what and how he could just pick a $ value just so. It was then reduced because I challenged him.
    It seemed to be that he was having a bad day, hence the nasty treatment. I do not take them on, if they want to search, I have no problem but with any charges they have to explain it to me!My spouse thinks I should not challenge them!

  6. Interesting developments in the Bridgetown Port.
    Port Security Guards and Truckers involved in a Drug ring.

    Who are guarding the guards ?
    Many of the Barbados Port Authority Guards , I am told, have criminal records . I was in the Port recently to . . I must say that somethings have definitely improved but there some areas of operation that need some improvement. It would be good when the Sugar Cane l Cruise Terminal becomes a reality.

  7. I have found that if you deal with Customs in an honest and efficient way, for the most part you can get the same in return. Like many public sector organisations, there are the bad eggs, and in some cases thay can be quite disruptive to the flow of trade. They need to be challenged, and they can be challenged, because whatever they might believe, they are not omnipotent. Try being nice to Customs officers. You might be surprised as to how they will respond.

    • Well said Peltdownman. People hear the term civil servant and immediately they understand civil slave.

      Sent from my iPad

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