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Customs Offences

A Customs offence is any breach or attempted breach of the statutory or regulatory provisions which are provided in the EAC Customs Management Act (EAC CMA).

Customs offences may be dealt with by the Customs authorities, in accordance with procedures laid down in the EAC Customs Management Act (EAC CMA). The penalties applied in respect of Customs offences vary according to the gravity of the offence.

 

Q: What constitutes an offence by an officer? (Sec 9)

  • An officer commits an offence if he or she-
  • Directly or indirectly asks for, or takes, in connection with any of his or her duties any payment or reward which he or she is not lawfully entitled.
  • Enters into any agreement to do, abstain from doing, permit, conceal, or connive at, any act whereby the customs revenue may be defrauded.

 

Q: What are the offences in respect to customs areas? (Sec 15)

  • Unauthorized entry or exit of a person or vehicle into a customs area or airport.
  • When an officer forbids a person from remaining in a customs area, and the person fails to abide.
  • An importer/exporter refusing to allow him or herself and or his/her goods to be detained for the purpose of search or examination upon entry or exit into a customs area, within the Partner States

 

Q: What constitutes an offence on arrival? (Sec 21)

  • Landing a vessel, aircraft or vehicle at a place other than an authorized port or area within the Partner States
  • Departing from the authorized place of unloading without clearance from the proper officer
  • The return of a vessel, aircraft or motor vehicle into the Partner State after departure to a foreign port without authority of the proper officer while on any voyage to a foreign port, bring the vessel or aircraft into within the Partner States except in accordance with the EAC CMA.

 

Q: Can any person board any vessel before the proper officer? (Sec 23)

No, a person who boards a vessel before the proper officer commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 250.

 

Q: Is it an offence to remove goods from a customs area without payment of duty? (Sec 39)

Yes and the goods shall be liable to forfeiture

 

Q: Where are people allowed to disembark from an aircraft or vessel? (Sec 44)

A place shall be appointed in accordance with section 11 of the EAC CMA. Any person who disembarks at any other place commits an offence.

 

Q: Can warehoused goods be delivered as stores? (Sec 55)

Yes, provided they shall not be used as stores for a vessel of less than 250 tons. Contravention of this provision is an offence.

 

Q: Is any person allowed access to a warehouse? (Sec 59)

Not without the proper authorisation. Contravention of this law is an offence.

 

Q: What is the penalty for unlawfully taking warehoused goods? (Sec 61)

Unlawfully taking warehoused goods is an offence, with a penalty of an imprisonment term not exceeding two years or a fine equal to 25% of the dutiable value of the goods.

 

Q: What are the offences related to entry of cargo for exportation? (Sec 73)

Failure to enter the cargo in the prescribed manner and lack of documentary evidence of the goods referred to in the entry.

 

Q: Can export goods be discharged in a Partner State? (Sec 77)

No, and any goods in respect of which such offence has been committed shall be liable to forfeiture.

 

Q: What is deficiency or surplus in cargo or stores? (Sec 91)

  • Deficiency in cargo is when the goods are reported on arrival as remaining on board and upon inspection, the goods are not on board. This is an offence.
  • Surplus in cargo is when goods which are not contained in the manifest are found on such aircraft or vessel. Any goods in respect of which such offence has been committed shall be liable to forfeiture.

 

Q: Upon arrival, carrying goods coastwise or goods for transfer, how long does the master have to deliver the transpires to the proper officer? (Sec 101)

The trasire should be delivered to the proper officer immediately, but in the case of a vessel of 250 tons register, such transpire may be delivered within twenty four hours of arrival.

 

Q: Is there a special route that transit goods should follow? (Sec 104)

Yes, goods on transit should be conveyed on routes approved by the commissioner. A person who does not follow the specified route commits an offence.

 

Q: What is the liability of the owner for offences committed by his duly authorized agent? (Sec 148)

The owner of goods shall be prosecuted for any offence committed by his authorized agent as if the owner had himself committed the offence.

 

Q: Can a person use his premises for manufacture under bond without a license? (Sec 160)

No, because it is an offence and on conviction will be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.

 

Q: Can a licensee alter the premises of a bonded factory? (Sec 161)

Yes, with prior permission from the commissioner.

 

Q: Is it an offence to remove goods from an export processing zone or Freeport for home consumption? (Sec 168)

Yes, if it is done without the authority of the commissioner. The offender shall be liable to a fine of US$ 5,000 or fifty percent of the value of the goods, whichever is higher.

 

Q: What is the liability on a person who accesses customs computerized system without authorization? (Sec 191)

  • In the case of an individual, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding US$ 5,000.
  • In the case of a body corporate, a fine not exceeding US$ 25,000.

 

Q: What are the customs related offences and how will such offences be dealt with? (Sec 193-194)

  • Any person who conspires with others to act contrary to the CMA commits an offence punishable by 5 years imprisonment if convicted.
  • A person who for no reason shoots at any aircraft, vessel or vehicle belonging to customs, wounds an officer on duty in the process or commits any form of violent acts commits an offence punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years.
  • A person who commits an offence with any firearm or other weapons and is found with goods that should be detained commits an offence punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10years.
  • A person who commits a crime in disguise and poses illegal goods while doing so commits an offence punishable by imprisonment for a period of not exceeding 3 years.
  • A person who breaks, destroys or throws seized goods off an aircraft, vessel or vehicle, rescues any person arrested for any offence or obstructs any officer commits an offence.
  • Any person other than the proper officer found interfering with any lock, seal, mark or other fastening placed by an officer on any building, room or place commits an offence whose penalty is imprisonment for a maximum period of 3 years or a fine of less than US$ 2,500.
  • If goods in a sealed building are a miss, the owner of the building or the occupant commits an offence whose penalty imprisonment for a maximum period of 5 years or a fine equal to 25% of the value of the goods.

 

Q: What is the penalty for committing an offence with violence? (Sec 194)

  • A person who commits an offence with violence shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years.
  • A person who commits an offence while armed with any firearm or other offensive weapon shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
  • A person who commits an offence under this Act while disguised in any way shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

 

Q: What is the penalty for removing or defacing customs seals? (Sec 195)

A person who willfully removes any customs seal from any ship, aircraft, vehicle, train or package without the proper authority commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding US$ 2,500 or to both

 

Q: What is meant by inducing another to commit an offence? (Sec 196)

A person who by any means procures, or authorizes another person to procure or induce, any other person to commit or assist in the commission of any offence commits an offence.

 

Q: What is the penalty for inducing another to commit an offence? (Sec 196)

A person convicted of inducing another to commit an offence shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.

 

Q: Is it an offence to warn an offender? (Sec 197)

Yes, a person who warns, or does any act for the purpose of warning, any other person engaged in the commission of an offence commits an offence.

 

Q: What is the penalty for warning an offender? (Sec 197)

A person who warns an offender shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding US$ 2,500 or to both.

 

Q: Is it an offence to assume character of an officer? (Sec 198)

Yes, a person, not being an officer, who takes or assumes the name, designation, character or appearance of an officer, commits an offence

 

Q: What is the penalty for assuming character of an officer? (Sec 198)

A person assuming the character of an officer shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

 

Q: Does a master of vessel, used for smuggling, commit an offence? (Sec 199)

A master of any aircraft or vessel, and any person in charge of a vehicle which has any secret or disguised place adapted for concealing goods, commits an offence.

 

Q: What are the penalties for a master of a vessel, used for smuggling? (Sec 199)

In the case of the master of a vessel of less than two hundred and fifty tons register, he shall be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 7,000 and in the case of the master of an aircraft or vessel of 250 tons register or more, to a fine not exceeding US$ 10,000.

 

Q: What is the penalty for a person in charge of a vehicle, used for smuggling? (Sec 199)

A person in charge of a vehicle, used for smuggling shall be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 5,000.

 

Q: What are the offences related to prohibited, restricted, and un costumed goods? (Sec 200)

A person who-

  • Imports or carries coastwise any prohibited or restricted goods contrary to any condition regulating the importation of such goods;
  • Unloads after importation or carriage coastwise any prohibited goods; or any restricted goods which have been imported or carried coastwise contrary to any condition regulating such importation;
  • Exports, carries coastwise, or puts on board any aircraft, vehicle or vessel, or brings to any Customs airport, Customs area, or place, to be put on board, for exportation or for use as stores or for carriage coastwise any prohibited or restricted goods contrary to any condition regulating that process;
  • Acquires, has in his or her possession, keeps or conceals, or procures to be kept or concealed, any goods which he or she knows, or ought reasonably to have known, to be prohibited goods; or restricted goods which have been imported or carried coastwise contrary to any condition regulating such importation or carriage coastwise; or uncustomed goods.
  • Q: What is the penalty for offences related to prohibited, restricted, and uncustomed goods? (Sec 200)
  • On conviction, a person shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine equal to fifty percent of the dutiable value of the goods involved, or both.

 

Q: Does a person have to pay duty after paying a fine? (Sec 201)

Yes, on conviction for an offence, a person is liable to pay a fine, and unless the goods are prohibited goods or are ordered to be forfeited under this Act, payment of duty shall be made in addition to the fine.

 

Q: What is the penalty for importing or exporting concealed goods? (Sec 202)

A person who imports or exports any goods which are concealed in any way commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine equal to fifty percent of the value of the goods involved.

 

Q: Is it an offence to make or use false documents? (Sec 203)

A person who, in any matter relating to the Customs, makes use of false documents commits an offence.

 

Q: What is the penalty for making or using false documents? (Sec 203)

On conviction, a person making or using false documents shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding US$ 10,000.

 

Q: Is it an offence to interfere with Customs gear? (Sec 205)

Yes, a person who interferes with any aircraft, vessel, vehicle, buoy, anchor, chain, rope, mark, or other thing used for the purposes of the Customs commits an offence.

 

Q: What is the penalty for interfering with customs gear? (Sec 205)

On conviction, a person interfering with customs gear shall be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 2,500.

 

Q: Why should a person report finding uncustomed goods? (Sec 206)

A person who, on finding any uncustomed goods and fails to report such discovery to the nearest officer commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 2,500.

 

Q: What does the general penalty provision state? (Sec 209)

A person who commits an offence under this Act for which no specific penalty is provided shall be liable to a fine not exceeding US$ 5,000. On conviction, the court may impose a fine not exceeding three times the value of any goods in respect of which the offence was committed or the specified amount, whichever is the greater.

 

Q: Why are the fines not prescribed in local currencies of the Partner States?

The fines are prescribed in United States Dollars, but by definition, a dollar includes the equivalent in the currency of the Partner States.

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East African Community
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P.O. Box 1096
Arusha
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac [at] eachq.org