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General

Customs are involved in the implementation and enforcement of Community legislation relating to external trade, not only for customs duties and commercial policy measures, but also as regards security, environmental, anti-dumping, consumer protection, cultural and agricultural controls.

The most important control areas in which customs authorities have a control responsibility are:

  • Controls of the nature and the amounts of duties applicable according to the correct description of commodity code, origin and customs value of goods.
  • Controls of goods under customs supervision (goods in temporary storage and placed under certain customs procedures)
  • Controls on commercial policy measures (objectives) and commercial traffic.
  • Controls for security, safety and public health requirements
  • Controls on compliance with environmental legislation.
  • Controls on compliance with Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rules.
  • Controls on compliance with veterinary, phyto-sanitary, health and quality regulations.

Customs must apply a wide variety of controls in the fast moving goods environment of today in a consistent manner across the Community. This means customs controls must be quick, effective and based on modern risk management techniques.

Previously, Customs controls tended to focus on the fiscal aspects of customs work but in recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of customs controls for purposes such as security, safety, protection of the environment.

Security controls require a different control approach and this is reflected in recent developments (see "Customs Strategy" and "Customs Security" for more details), which will rationalise customs controls to ensure security based controls are carried out in a coordinated manner. To attain this objective, there will be priority-setting for customs controls, the introduction of a Community risk management system and identification of the resources and equipment which will be needed.

The full use of modern technology should be applied, including maximising the benefits of modern IT techniques as well as specialised examination equipment. Custom laboratories will have an increasingly important role to play in helping to ensure the correct and uniform application of Community legislation in a world where product developments occur ever more rapidly.

Effective controls also require close co-operation with business, particularly when it comes to exchange of information, and avoiding unnecessary delays or costs arising from the implementation of controls.

In the majority of Member States, customs are also involved, under their national responsibilities, with many activities relating to the fight against illicit traffic in drugs, pornography and organised crime as well as supporting the work of other services (police, immigration etc.). Customs generally perform community or national duties simultaneously.