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Customs officer

Customs officers stop banned items coming in or out of the country, and collect taxes and duties.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £26,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 36 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually work your way up by starting as:

  • an administrative assistant, for which you'll need 2 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C)
  • an assistant officer, for which you'll need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths

To start as an officer, you’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths
  • A levels (or equivalent)

If you don’t have the qualifications, you may be able to take a test to prove your skills and abilities in areas like teamwork and communication.

You'll also need to meet the Civil Service nationality requirements

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • sound judgement
  • confident decision-making ability
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • listening and questioning skills
  • a tactful but firm manner

3. What you'll do

You’ll work in airports and seaports, collecting customs duties and preventing smuggling and illegal trade.

You day-to-day duties may include:

  • searching luggage, vehicles and travellers
  • checking customs documents
  • questioning people found with illegal items or goods over the allowance
  • arresting and charging people
  • preparing reports and witness statements
  • taking on specialist roles like dog handling or undercover and surveillance work
You may also need to go to court as a witness, and work closely with other agencies, like the police and the Home Office.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £21,000 (Assistant officer)

Experienced: £22,000

Highly Experienced: £26,000 or more

You’ll get extra allowances for working unsocial hours, like evenings, weekends and public holidays. You’ll get a higher rate of pay if you work in London.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 36 hours a week over 5 days. If you’re in a border protection role you’ll work shifts to provide 24/7 cover.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move up within the civil service grade structure, but you may need to relocate to progress to higher grades.

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Last updated: 18 August 2017