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Customs and Excise Division

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The Isle of Man Customs and Excise service is a Division of the Isle of Man Government's Treasury and as such its officers are first and foremost officers of the Treasury.

The Collector of Customs and Excise is Charles Coué. 

From 1765 to 1979, the collection of customs revenues in the Isle of Man was undertaken by UK Customs and Excise staff. From 1980, under the terms of the Customs and Excise Agreement of 1979 with the UK, the collection of customs revenue has been undertaken by Manx civil servants. The current Customs and Excise Agreement covers customs duties and many other (but not all) indirect taxes. The agreement, which is backed by both UK and Manx legislation, means that for VAT, customs and most (but not all) excise duty purposes the 2 territories are treated as if 1. Most of these indirect taxes and duties are pooled and shared. This negates the need for customs barriers between the 2 countries. Manx legislation exists which mirrors the equivalent UK law where required.

Thus, the contents of Manx public notices are often identical to the UK equivalent. An example of where they differ is the notice for hotel accommodation, where the VAT rate in the Isle of Man is only 5% as opposed to 20% in the UK.

The Island's relationship with the UK is governed by Protocol 3 to the UK’s Act of Accession and means that the Island is part of the customs territory of the Community. Thus, the Isle of Man is not regarded as a third country for customs purposes. Community legislation in customs matters applies directly with a very few exceptions, such as that governing the trade in endangered species. Please see the exotic animal and endangered species import and export webpage, right, for more details of relevant CITES controls.

Although Community legislation in VAT and excise matters does not directly apply on the Island, the provisions of the relevant directives are given legal effect through Manx legislation and therefore the Island is treated as if it were part of the fiscal territory of the Community. The VAT Directive and directives on the holding and movement of excise goods (namely mineral oils and gas, manufactured tobacco, alcohol and alcoholic drinks) both recognise the Island's status in relation to the fiscal territory. These directives instruct other member states to treat transactions involving Isle of Man businesses as if the transactions originated in, or were intended for, the UK. This means that the Island may be treated as if part of the single market for trade in goods.

The service operates from premises in Douglas, situated by the steam railway station. The staff of approximately 55 cover all aspects of Customs and Excise work. There are approximately 9,000 traders currently registered for VAT in the Isle of Man and this figure is steadily growing, reflecting the interest shown on the Island as a business centre. On average more than 100 new applications to register are received per month. The service aims to register new traders within 7 days of application, provided all the relevant information has been provided.

European Union returns for Island traders, such as Supplementary Declarations and European Sales Lists, are processed by the service which can also assist in confirming the validity of European VAT registration numbers. A business advice centre is run from the premises, with enquiries exceeding 7,000 per annum. These enquiries range from complex liability problems to basic information such as current exchange rates. (These are readily available from the UK site). Visiting officers attend traders' premises not only to check records but to give advice to registered traders.

As you might expect, Customs and Excise Division also has important law enforcement functions to perform and these duties can range from the investigation of local customs offences such as bootlegging of alcohol and tobacco through to assisting other jurisdictions with the investigation of international money laundering. In the area of financial crime the Division works closely with the Financial Crime Unit (FCU) and currently there are intelligence officers and investigation officers working with their police colleagues at the FCU. Another side of the Division's law enforcement work is its contribution to the Chief Minister's Drug and Alcohol Strategy, which complement its performance of the more traditional customs work including attendance at ports and the airport, dealing with passengers, examining freight, courier and postal packets, road fuel testing and excise visiting. In most of these areas officers are seeking to seize offending items and to disrupt those that try to bring into the Island prohibited or restricted goods, which include drugs, alcohol, tobacco, weapons, paedophile materials and endangered species or meat products. Where prohibitions are broken closer working and intelligence sharing extends to various police units.

The Division also operates a 7.5 metre trailer based rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) bought using the seized proceeds of illegal activities and enables us to fulfil our commitments under the Chief Minister's strategy and provide an effective deterrent to those who would seek to use the Island's waters to smuggle drugs.

In addition to its customs role relating to import and export prohibitions and restrictions the Division is responsible for administration of export licensing and export controls, these being in addition to controls on the removal of cultural items administered by Manx National Heritage. It is also responsible for administering UN and EU sanctions, both trade-based and financial sanctions.

Customs actively seek the public's help in its law enforcement work by asking that they report any suspicious activity they may see on the anti smuggling phone line number +44 1624 648110, via email on customs@gov.im, or alternatively by ringing the 24 hour Customs Hotline line on 0800 595000.

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