What is Customs inspection?
Customs inspection is generally an organized examination or formal evaluation exercise. It involves physically examining goods whose findings are then compared against documents a declarant presented. It also entails checking if specified requirements and standards put in place by MRA have been adhered to. Customs officers can inspect goods that are in Customs controlled areas such as border examining bays, bonded warehouses, Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and temporary stores.
Inspection can also take place in public and private properties including shops, residential and private warehouses where a Customs officer suspects that smuggled goods have been concealed. Please, note that Customs officers are sometimes escorted by the Police to suspected shops, warehouses and any private site for security purposes.If a taxpayer resists inspection like physical examination, a warrant of search would be obtained from the Police. However, suffice to mention here that a Customs officer does not need a search warrant when conducting inspection for public premises. It only applies to private warehouses and residential premises.
What happens when a Customs officer is not allowed entry after obtaining a warrant?
If a customs officer is not allowed entry into a private property to conduct an examination after identifying himself/herself and declared his official capacity, the Customs officer with support from the Police is mandated to break the door, window or wall to force entry and conduct the search. In case of a chest or package that is locked, the officer is mandated to break the safe or chest. In this context, MRA would like to remind all business persons handling or dealing in goods that they should keep records of their goods as evidence that they were legally imported into the country.
The records should be in English and put in proper order with indelible accounts. The records should, among others, include bills of lading, rail notes, invoices and all other documents and books containing particulars that should enable Customs officers conduct inspection with ease.
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