Customs officer

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

Annual Salary

£16,000 to £26,000

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

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 1% fewer Customs officer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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.

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

£16,000 to £26,000

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

Experienced salary: £22,000

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.


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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • sound judgement
  • confident decision-making ability
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • listening and questioning skills
  • a tactful but firm manner
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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