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Seizure, Forfeiture, Investigations & Fines

Detention of Goods

Goods may be detained until valuation; license and export procedures are completed. Upon completion of final Customs procedures, the importer then has exclusive rights to these goods.

Seizure of Goods

This is the legal step of confiscating goods wherein an offence is confirmed to have been committed (See PART XI of the Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422). When goods are seized the Customs Department is responsible thereafter for their safe-keeping; however, the owner or importer has a claim to goods seized and can therefore make an appeal.

  1. There must be reasonable grounds to believe that the goods are liable to penalty and/or forfeiture.
  2. The importer and/or owner must be informed of the seizure, verbally and in writing by a "notice of seizure".
  3. The notice of seizure must describe the goods accurately, the section under the law which the goods are seized and the name of the Officer that executed the seizure.
  4. The importer/owner must be informed of their legal rights; the custodian of the goods must be informed as to the importer/owner; description, time of seizure, etc.

Forfeiture of Goods

This is the legal act of surrendering the goods seized to the crown or the state. At this stage the goods are the property of the crown or the state. They can be disposed of as the crown or the state wishes. The owner looses any entitlement to the goods. These goods can be auctioned or condemned in the case of prohibited or restricted goods (Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 129 (1), (8).

Goods liable to forfeiture include the following:

  • Goods improperly imported ((Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 29)
    • Goods chargeable on importation, removed from their place of importation before payment of duty.
    • Goods landed contrary to any prohibition or restriction.
    • Goods in excess of what is declared.
    • Goods concealed or packed in a manner appearing to be intended to deceive an officer.
  • Offences in relation to warehouse and warehouse goods - Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 59 (2) e.g. goods entered into a warehouse without the proper authority or goods entered for warehousing but were removed without being warehoused
  • Goods with prohibition on carriage (PART III of the third schedule), imported or exported on vessels of less than thirty tons where there is no stress of weather. (See Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 80)
  • Smuggled goods offered for sale. (See Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 106)
  • Any goods in relation to any false declaration. (See Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 108)
  • Fraudulent evasion. (See Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 111)
  • Counterfeiting/falsifying documents (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 109)



Investigations are conducted when there is an infraction, an incident or suspicious transaction. A statement is taken by a selected Preventive Officer, in the presence of a witness, from the defendant. The defendant is given the option of settling the matter under the jurisdiction of the Comptroller of Customs or taking it to the court of law. If conducted at the Customs the offender is required to sign an admission of guilt form, the matter is heard and a decision is made (see ((Customs (Control and Management) Act CAP 422 Section 119).

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Upper Bay Street, Kingstown


784-457-2421 / 457-2711

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