A country’s customs authority is the official agency in charge of controlling the traffic of products coming in or going out of a country. This includes the entrance and exit of regulated items, hazardous goods, and animals, among others.

The kinds of goods allowed for import and export are stated in the territory’s legislation which may also be largely determined by international agreements and laws. This governs the decisions made by customs, which is tasked with implementing them.

Customs also handles the collection of customs duties, which are taxes or tariffs imposed on exports. Usually the amount of tax imposed is a percentage of the product’s value. This is why it is especially important to come up with clear standards on determining such values. Doing so allows customs to come up with the appropriate amounts for taxation, which translates into economic gain for the country.

Arriving passengers have to go through certain customs procedures at many international airports. Two channels or lanes are usually set up: one green and the other red. If the passenger has nothing to declare, he may pass through the green channel. Spot checks are conducted every so often for passengers going through the green channel. If a passenger is found to be in possession of items which are either prohibited or which go beyond the allowed customs limits, the items may be confiscated or the passenger may be prosecuted for falsely declaring the goods. Passengers carrying goods which go beyond customs limits have to pass through the red channel.

Customs areas encompass all authorized ports. When products for commercial use are brought to a customs area not yet cleared, they are held there in what is often known as a bonded store.