Border force officer

Border Force officers secure the UK border by carrying out immigration and customs controls for people and goods entering the UK.

Annual Salary

£23,000 to £31,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 42

What's it all about?

You’ll protect UK border entry points like ports, airports, postal depots and the rail network.

You’ll check passengers for immigration control purposes, and you'll enforce customs regulations by making sure the right tax is paid on goods. You'll also be looking for and removing illegal items like drugs, firearms, and counterfeit goods.

Your duties will depend on which part of the country you’re based in. Your day-to-day work could include:

  • checking travel documents and passports
  • questioning passengers about their travel plans, and deciding if they need further questioning
  • searching people, luggage and vehicles
  • writing case notes
  • working with the police on major cases
  • attending court as a witness

You might also take part in counter-terrorism activities or prevention of human trafficking.

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • working your way up
  • applying directly
  • a graduate training scheme


You could do a public service operational delivery advanced apprenticeship with the Civil Service.

To do this apprenticeship, you'll need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grade 9 to 3 (A* to D), including maths and English, or equivalent qualifications


You could join the Civil Service as a Border Force assistant officer, then apply for an officer post when vacancies become available.

To do this, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.

Direct application

You could apply directly to become a Border Force officer. To enter at officer level, you may need at least 2 A levels at grade E or above, or equivalent qualifications.

Other routes

You can apply through the Civil Service Fast Stream if you have a degree.

Further information

You can find out more about working as a Border Force officer from Border Force and Civil Service Careers.

£23,000 to £31,000

Starter salary: £23,000

Experienced salary: £27,000

Overtime working may mean you can earn more.

These figures are a guide.

38 to 42

You'll usually work 40 hours a week on a shift system, which could include nights, weekends and bank holidays.

You'll mainly work indoors, based at a port or airport, but you'll spend time away when working on investigations or attending court. You’ll usually need a full UK driving licence.

The role can be physically demanding.

You’ll get continuous training during your first 6 to 12 months. Once you’ve developed your skills and passed your probationary period, you’ll have the full responsibilities of a Border Force officer.

With experience you could then become a team leader, or move into a management position. You could also use your skills in training and working with new staff.

You may also be able to apply for roles in other departments of the Home Office or Civil Service.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of English language
  • customer service skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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