A Career as a Customs & Excise Officer


The role of a Customs & Excise Officer is a varied one which can involve operating within the customs, excise or VAT areas.  Customs Officers are responsible for ensuring that passengers, baggage, freight and mail are cleared for travel and for identifying potentially smuggled goods.  Excise Officers monitor compliance with excise regulations within a variety of business premises including ensuring that appropriate duty is paid.  A VAT Officer advises businesses on their VAT obligations and ensures full compliance with legislation.

Customs & Excise Officers are part of the Civil Service and, as such, work closely with other agencies including the Police and the Home Office.  They must be capable of collating and analysing often complex information, including accounts, and should be attentive to detail at all times.  There is often an obligation to attend Court to give evidence and facilitate successful prosecutions, requiring the ability to disseminate detailed information in a clear and concise manner.  The specific area in which the Customs & Excise Officer operates dictates whether they are office based or required to travel to client premises, and hours worked can be unsociable involving shift systems.

Entry requirements

It is possible to progress through to a Customs & Excise Officer role from an administrative role within the Civil Service whereby minimal entry qualifications are required.  However, direct entry into HM Revenue and Customs can be as a Band 5 Executive Officer or as part of the fast stream, for which a degree is required.

There is an extensive training programme which must be completed upon entry into the role of Customs & Excise Officer and this is generally tailored towards one of the three specific areas of practice.  The majority of this will be on-the-job training, where it is possible to benefit from the skills and knowledge of experienced officers, although there is generally a residential training course as well.

Progression opportunities

There are a number of opportunities available with HM Revenue and Customs at any one time with premises located throughout the country.  Progression is possible up to Senior Civil Servant level although it may be necessary to relocate in order to achieve this. 

Entry level salary is relatively poor although more senior roles do pay considerably better.  Further allowances are paid for shift work and for working within the London area.

Due to the various fields in which a Customs & Excise Officer can specialise, the role is generally a diverse one with the opportunity to gain an insight into a wide variety of functions within the Civil Service.
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