Compliance under the Act

The Customs and Excise Act 2018 outlines compliance requirements, and the sanctions available when there is failure to comply.


About offences

When Customs identifies a failure to comply with the Act, there is a range of possible responses. This includes:

  • Issuing a warning
  • Charging a penalty e.g. administrative penalty, late payment penalty, or (from 1 April 2019) serving an infringement notice 
  • Charging compensatory interest
  • Requiring payment of unpaid duty 
  • Forfeiture of, and seizure of goods
  • Referral for internal investigation, or to another agency 
  • Prosecution.

Penalty levels

Penalties and fines are designed to be fair, proportionate to the offence, and consistent within the Act and with similar offences in other legislation.

The maximum penalty for an individual may be different to that for a business for the same offence. For some offences a maximum term of imprisonment is also specified.

Limitation periods for offences

The limitation period, or point after which charges cannot be laid for offences under the Act, is generally four years from the time the offence was committed for most offences. However, for 21 specified offences under the Act the limitation periods are as provided for in the Criminal Procedure Act 2011, and range from six months for lesser offences, and no limitation for serious offences.