Get to know the Customs Department
What is the Customs Department?
Customs is the government department responsible for collecting and safeguarding import duties and for monitoring and controlling the flow of goods including animals, flora and fauna, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of Sint Maarten.
Customs Sint Maarten is also a law enforcement agency under the responsibility of the Minister of Justice.
Customs Sint Maarten differs from most other countries in the region in that it is mainly a law enforcement agency and not primarily an import duty collecting organization.
The only tax levied by Customs Sint Maarten is tax/excise on unleaded gasoline.
The Customs Department is responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations pertaining to the import, export and transit of forbidden goods and the levying of import duties.
Where do Customs Officers perform their duties?
The Customs Department is a border protection Agency. Customs officers perform their duties at the border crossing points or authorized ports in Sint Maarten. Any place where people and goods can enter and leave
Sint Maarten is a place where the Customs Officer can exercise his authority. Some examples include: Princess Juliana International Airport, Simpsonbay Marina, Port de Plaisance Marina, Il de Sol Marina, Cupecoy Marina, Captain Olivers Marina, Greatbay harbor, including the Cruise Terminal, and the Post Office and the entire coastline. Customs Officers have access to these areas at all times and without any restrictions.
Furthermore Customs Officer has the authority to control any vehicles and or people at all times for the presence of goods on public roads.
The articles 112-121c and 220-258a of the General Regulation on Import, Export and Transit 1908, specify the general competence of Customs.
Customs Officers have two special authorities.
1. Control authority
2. Investigative authority
While performing his duties the Customs Officer almost always uses his “control authority” first. This authority is used to check incoming and outgoing passengers for example at the Airport or Cruise facilities.
If and when the Customs Officer encounters a violation of any laws while using his “control authority”, this “control authority” automatically shifts to the “investigative authority”.
The two authorities differ from one another in that while the “control authority” is being used, the subject being submitted to the control has not many rights and is required follow all instructions given by the Customs Officer and is required to answer all questions pertaining to the control. Once a violation of a law is detected, the Customs Officer switches to his “investigative authority. Immediately the subject being submitted to the controls has many rights, including but not limited to the right to remain silent.
Effectively and efficiently controlling import, export and transit of goods
To protect and enhance the quality of life for the people of Sint Maarten as well as its visitors.
The overall objective of the Customs Organization is to control the flow of goods along the borders of St. Maarten.
The Customs Department’s aim is to enforce the applicable laws and regulations as effectively and efficiently as possible, and to promote legal certainty and equality in its actions. Furthermore the department is constantly promoting good working relationships both internally and with local and international partners and focusing on customer friendliness and integrity.
Efficient tasks performance ensures that the barrier of trade and movement of people are limited to a minimum.