Information on the Seizure of Goods
Seizure of goods can take place under the relevant provision of the Customs & Excise Law of 1972 (as amended). These powers are very wide and apply to what is called all "customs assigned matters". This includes where there is any prohibition or restriction in place on the importation or exportation of any goods, as well as where goods are liable to any duty or excise.
Seizure is a civil procedure taken against the goods and often runs in parallel to criminal proceeding against persons who have committed customs, money laundering or drug trafficking offences. However on some occasions the Guernsey Border Agency (GBA) will take seizure action only where the circumstances make it more proportionate than an instigating prosecution.
Seizure action is a globally utilised mechanism by most Customs authorities worldwide not just by the GBA in Guernsey and therefore similar provisions tend to apply in most countries.
Persons who are the owners of the goods may appeal against a seizure. Where goods are seized in the absence of the importer a notice of seizure will be sent to the address if that information is available, or a notice will be placed in La Gazette Officielle. The law however states that if the goods are found to be so liable they shall be forfeited.
What goods are liable to forfeiture?
Prohibited goods - All goods which are subject to an import or export prohibition or restriction are liable to forfeiture, such as:
- Controlled drugs such as heroin, morphine, cocaine, cannabis. Amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD and MD(M)A(ecstasy) together with those drugs recently added such as mephedrone, synthetic cannabinoids, GBL, BZP, naphyrone & piperazine
- Offensive weapons such as flick knives, sword sticks, knuckledusters and some martial arts weapons
- Paedophilia, Obscene or indecent material
- Counterfeit and pirated goods
- Cash over £1000 suspected to be the proceeds of crime and
- restricted goods (which are illegal unless a licence has been issued prior to importation).
Restricted goods - some of these restrictions only apply depending upon where they are imported from or exported to. However examples include:
- All unlicensed substances which fall under the import/export control laws classed as emerging drugs of concern, Firearms, explosives and ammunition - which includes fireworks, gas canisters and electric shock devices such as stun guns
- Animals and birds
- Endangered species - whether dead or alive and things such as fur, ivory and reptile leather or goods made from them
- Uncooked meats and poultry
- Certain plants, trees , shrubs , potatoes fruit and vegetables
- Certain radio transmitters
- Caravans and dormobiles
- Rough diamonds (e.g. uncut and unpolished)
- Other goods listed under the Import and export control legislation (inc. dual use military goods, dangerous and precursor chemicals)
- Goods and trade subject to EU or UN sanctions
Dutiable goods imported over the permitted personal allowances for more information on personal allowances please see information under 'related pages' on the right:
- Cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars and other tobacco product
Alcoholic drinks such as spirits, liqueurs and wine including fortified and sparkling wine
- Beer and cider
- Hydrocarbon oils
- Other goods origination from outside of the EU which are liable to customs duty
- Dutiable goods which have been abandoned on ships aircraft or in the terminal buildings
- Cash on the person over the equivalent of 10,000 euros must be declared on the prescribed form before travel or on importation. Cash is not simply bank notes but includes coins in any currency, postal orders, cheques of any kind (including travellers cheques), bankers drafts, bearer bonds and bearer shares, postage stamps from any jurisdiction and bullion (which includes gold, silver, palladium and platinum whether pure or impure) ingots and coins - Cash declaration forms are freely available from GBA offices
- All the above by post over £50
- All the above in freight any amount
Other reasons why goods can be seized
In addition to all the above goods are liable to forfeiture if:
- They are not declared to a Customs Officer. This includes not completing customs declarations for post and freight consignments
- They are falsely or improperly declared (either to an Officer or on customs declarations and any associated paperwork)
- The goods are in any way hidden or concealed
- The goods are packaged in a manner to deceive an officer
- Goods are packed or mixed with dutiable or prohibited or restricted goods
- Vehicles, ships (including all boats of any type) aircraft used to transport goods liable to forfeiture or are adapted in any way for the purpose of smuggling