Customs Offences

What is a  customs offence?

A Customs offence is any breach or attempted breach of the statutory or regulatory provisions which are provided for in the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA). Customs offences may be dealt with by the Customs authorities, in accordance with procedures laid down in the EACCMA. The penalties applied in respect of Customs offences vary according to the gravity of the offence.

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  • 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

  • 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.

The offenses include:

  • Failure to enter the cargo in the prescribed manner.
  • Lack of documentary evidence of the goods referred to in the entry.

Yes, both deficiency and surplus in cargo are an offence.

  • Deficiency in cargo is when the goods are reported on arrival as remaining on
    board and upon inspection, the goods are not on board.
  • 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.

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

An export processing zone means a designated part of Customs territory where any goods introduced are generally regarded, in so far as import duties and taxes are concerned, as being outside Customs territory but are restricted by controlled access. It is thus an offense 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.

  • Any person who conspires with others to act contrary to the EACCMA 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 USD 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.

A person who-

  •  Import or carriage coastwise of 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.

Prohibited goods means any goods the importation, exportation, or carriage coastwise, of which is prohibited under the EACCMA or any law for the time being in force in the Partner States. Restricted goods means any goods the importation, exportation, transfer, or carriage coastwise, of which is prohibited, save in accordance with any conditions regulating such importation, exportation, transfer, or carriage coastwise, and any goods the importation, exportation, transfer, or carriage coastwise, of which is in any way
regulated by or under the Customs laws;
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.

Click here to download the customs offences brochure
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