How Qatar Customs Officials Inspect Goods and Investigates Smuggling

  • 1 year ago

Based on the Customs Legal Actions published by the General Authority of Customs on its website, here are the rules and responsibilities of Customs officers in inspecting goods and investigation of smuggling:

Chapter One: Investigation of smuggling

Article 120

Customs officers shall combat smuggling. To this effect, they are authorized to inspect the goods, the means of transport and to search persons under the provisions herein and the other applicable Laws. The body search of women shall be conducted only by a female inspector. In the event there are adequate evidences of the presence of contraband and after obtaining permission from the Competent Authority, the customs officers shall be entitled to inspect any house, store or shop according to the applicable Laws.

Customs officers shall not be held responsible for the damages resulting from the proper performance of their jobs.  

Article 121

In their capacity as judicial officers, authorized customs officers shall have the right to get aboard the vessels anchoring in the local ports or those entering or leaving such ports and to stay aboard until the cargo is unloaded and they may inspect all parts of the vessel.

Article 122

In their capacity as judicial officers, authorized customs officers shall have the right to get aboard the vessels in the Customs Zone for inspection or presentation of the cargo Manifest and the other required documents under the provisions herein; when refraining from producing such documents or in the absence of such documents and when contraband or prohibited goods are suspected to be concealed, Customs officers may take all necessary measures to seize such goods and shall lead the vessel to the nearest Customs Administration.

Article 123

The Department may take the appropriate actions for investigating and detecting smuggling inside and outside the Customs Administration according to the rules laid down by the Authority.

Article 124

Investigation of smuggling, seizure of goods and proving customs offences may be conducted on all goods within the territories of the State in the following areas:

1- In the Customs Zones.

2- At the Customs Administrations, seaports, airports and all the places subject to customs control.

3- Beyond the customs zones when continuously tracking smuggled goods that have been witnessed within the zone in a situation that obviously indicates that they are intended to be smuggled

Article 125

In their capacity as judicial officers, customs officers shall be entitled to have access to the papers, documents, records, correspondence, commercial contracts and instruments whatsoever, directly or indirectly relating to the customs operations, and to seize them when offences are found out, which shall be done at the premises of the shipping and transportation companies and the natural and legal persons involved in customs operations. Such companies and persons shall keep all the aforesaid documents for a period of five years from the date of completion of the customs operations.  

Article 126

In their capacity as judicial officers, customs officers may detain any person suspected to have committed or attempted to commit a smuggling offence or involved in committing, transporting of contraband or acquisition thereof

Chapter Two: Seizure report

Article 127

When the offences and crimes of customs smuggling are detected, a seizure report shall be made by at least two customs officers of the Department staff. It may be made by one customs officer when necessary.  

Article 128

The seizure report shall contain the following details:

- The place, date and hour in letters and figures it is prepared.

- Names of the customs officers who had detected the offence and those who had prepared the seizure report, signatures thereon, and the nature of their jobs.

- Names of the offenders or those responsible for smuggling, their nationalities, characteristics, occupations and detail addresses.

- Seized goods, kinds and quantities thereof, their value and tariff heading, place, date and hour of seizure.

- Detailed facts, statements of the offenders or the individuals responsible for smuggling and statements of witnesses, if any.

- An indication in the seizure report that it has been recited to the offenders or those involved in smuggling who had approved it by signing thereon; or refused to do so.

- All the other useful documents and the presence or absence of the offenders or those involved in smuggling when making inventory of the goods.

- Referring samples of the seized contraband to the competent authorities for verification of prohibited materials.

- Identifying the Authority to which contraband has been delivered and taking an acknowledgement of receipt.

- Identifying the security entity to which the smugglers has been delivered and the hour and date of delivery.  

Article 129

The seizure report prepared according to the preceding two Articles shall be a proof of the material facts that have been seen by the customs officers who had prepared the seizure report, unless proved otherwise.

The formal deficiency in the seizure report shall not cause such report to be null and may not be returned to the customs officers who had prepared the report unless such deficiency is relating to material facts.

Article 130

The Customs Administration may detain the goods subject of offence or smuggling and the other items used for concealment as well as the means of transport whatsoever i.e. boats, vehicles and animals excluding vessels, aircraft and public buses intended for the transport of passengers, unless they are specially designed for smuggling purposes.  

Article 131

Smuggled goods or those attempted to be smuggled such as narcotic drugs and the like shall be disposed of according to the laws in force.  

Chapter Five: Smuggling and penalties thereof
Section One: Smuggling
Article 139
Smuggling is to bring or attempt to bring goods into or out of the State in contravention to the applicable laws without payment of the customs taxes “duties, in whole or in part, or contrary to the provisions of prohibition or restriction provided for herein or in the other laws.  
Article 140
The following actions are particularly deemed as smuggling:
- Not proceeding with the goods to the first port of entry Customs Administration.
- Not following the routes specified for getting the goods into or out of the State.
- Unloading or loading the ships contrary to the Laws applicable at the Customs Administration or unloading or loading the ships beyond the marine Customs Zone.
- Subject to the provisions of Article 38 herein, illegal unloading or loading of aircraft cargo outside official airports or dropping goods during flight.
- Not declaring at Customs Administration the incoming or outgoing goods without a Manifest including the goods accompanied by passengers, which have a commercial character.
- When the goods surpass the Customs Administration at entry or exit without being declared.
- Discovering goods, not declared to a Customs Administration, concealed in places or cavities not usually designed for containing such goods.
- Increase, shortage or alteration in the number of the packages or the contents thereof in a situation suspending the duties provided for in Part VII herein discovered after the goods have left the Customs Administration. This provision applies to the goods that have illegally transited the State or without finalization of their customs procedures in which case the carrier shall be held responsible.
- Failure to produce the evidences prescribed by the Department to justify suspensions of the customs taxes “duties.”
- Taking the goods out of the free zones and duty-free shops, customs warehouses, stores or Customs Zones without finalization of their customs procedures.
- Producing false, fraudulent or fabricated documents or lists or affixing false marks intended to evade the customs taxes “duties”, in whole or in part, or to avoid the provisions of prohibition and restriction.
- Transporting or acquisition of prohibited or restricted goods without submitting evidences supporting their legal importation.
- Transporting or acquisition of goods subject to customs authority within the Customs Zone without legal documents.
- Not re-importation of the goods prohibited from exportation that were temporarily exported for any purpose whatsoever.  
Section Two: Penal responsibility
Article 141
Subject to the provisions of the penal code, the following shall be deemed criminally responsible:
- Principal perpetrators offenders.
- Partners in the offence.
- Inciters and interferes.
- Possessors of contraband.
- Owners of the means of transport used for smuggling, drivers and assistants who are proven to be involved in the contraband.
- Owners or tenants of the shops and places where contraband are kept or the beneficiaries who are proved to be aware of the presence of contraband in their shops or places. 
Section Three: Penalties

Article 142
Without prejudice to any higher penalty provided for in the other laws, smuggling, like offences and the attempt to commit any of them, shall be penalised as follows:
If the smuggled goods are subject to high customs taxes “duties”, the penalty shall be a fine not less than double the payable customs taxes “duties” and not more than double the value of the goods and/or imprisonment for not less than one month but not to exceed one year. For the other goods, the penalty shall be a fine not less than double the payable customs taxes “duties” and not more than the value of the goods and/or imprisonment for not less than one month but not to exceed one year.
If smuggled goods are exempted from customs taxes “duties”, the penalty shall be a fine of not less than ten percent of the value of the goods and not more than their value and/or imprisonment for not less than one month but not to exceed one year.
If smuggled goods are prohibited ones, the penalty shall be a fine not less than the value of the goods, but not more than three times the value thereof; and/or imprisonment for not less than six months, but not to exceed three years.
In all cases, the smuggled goods shall be confiscated or a fine equivalent to the value thereof when the goods are not seized shall be imposed.
Means of transportation and the tools and materials used in smuggling shall be confiscated, excluding public means of transportation such as ships, aircraft, trains and public vehicles, unless they are intended or hired for smuggling purposes, or imposing a fine equivalent to their value when goods are not seized.
The penalty may be doubled if the offence is repeated.  
Article 143
The Director General may hold the goods and the seized means of transport in case the smugglers have escaped or could not be caught and sell them according to the provisions of Part 13 herein and the proceeds of sale shall revert to the government upon the expiry of one year from the date of sale with the smugglers not being caught. Should the smugglers be caught or brought to court during this period and the goods have been ordered to be confiscated, the order of confiscation shall apply to the proceeds of sale.  

Source: General Authority of Customs Qatar