How to Become a UK Customs Officer

Customs officers work for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a government agency. Their main role involves searching people and vehicles and checking customs documents, as well as preparing evidence for any resulting legal action.

Some customs officers work in specialist roles checking that businesses are paying the correct excise duty or value-added tax.

Decide on an entry route. Customs roles are classed as officer grade within HMRC. This means that a candidate will usually be promoted from within, having begun as either an administrative assistant or an assistant officer. In some cases HMRC will recruit a candidate directly to officer grade.

Find a vacancy. These are advertised in jobcentres, newspapers and specialist publications. They are also detailed on the HMRC website and the Civil Service Careers site. Note that there are not always vacancies for customs officers available, and that recruitment may be restricted or even frozen during times of government spending cutbacks.

Check you meet the nationality requirements. Each vacancy will be listed as either reserved or non-reserved. With a reserved post, only U.K. nationals can apply. With a non-reserved post, Commonwealth citizens plus nationals of European Economic Area countries and Switzerland can also apply. Turkish national can apply only if they have already been legally employed in the U.K. for four years. There are some further restrictions on specific European countries that depend on when those countries joined the European Union; as these restrictions will change over time, potential applicants should check the current details with HMRC.

Obtain the necessary educational qualifications. A candidate starting as an administrative officer must have at least two GSCEs at grades A to C. A candidate starting as an assistant office must have at least five GSCEs at grades A to C, including Maths and English. An candidate entering HMRC at officer level must have five GCSEs at grades A to C including Maths and English, plus two A levels. In some cases it is possible to take a selection test if you do not have the specific qualifications; this option is detailed in specific vacancy requirements.

Apply for the post. All applications are made online through the Civil Service Careers website, though people with special needs can ask to apply on a paper form.