Swedish Customs Service
|Parent agency||Ministry of Finance|
Customs duties have existed in Sweden since the twelfth century, and the current organisation was created in 1636. During this period, the Swedish administration was being developed as Sweden was then a great power. The first Collector-General or Head of Customs was Mårten Augustinsson.
Customs duties, known as "fiscal tolls", were first introduced to raise revenue for the state. Other tolls were introduced later to protect Swedish industry, so-called "protective tariffs". In earlier times, most goods were transported by sea. Vessels arriving in Sweden had to pass through the "Great Sea Toll" where customs duties were paid. There was also a domestic toll, known as the "Little Toll". In the case of the Little Toll, Swedes were forced to pay duty on goods they brought into towns to sell, an important source of income for the Swedish monarchy.
In line with the arrival of duties, so came the rise of smuggling. Different goods have been smuggled at different times. From the 18th Century to the mid 19th Century, it was common to smuggle cloth. This was because the government was keen to encourage a textiles industry in Sweden and introduced customs duties and an import ban to prevent foreign cloth coming into the country. In the period between the two world wars, 1920-1939, alcohol was the item most smuggled. From the 1960s drug smuggling started to become a problem in Sweden, and remains one today.
Another clear trend is the growing trade with other countries with the aid of new technology, such as the internet. Goods ordered from countries outside the EU through the internet are also subject to duty and other charges.
Upon joining the European Union in 1995, Sweden also joined the EU customs union, which means the customs regulations are standardised throughout the EU. The joint customs union is slightly different from that of the Schengen Area covering free-travel.
Approximately 75 million travellers, ships, containers and vehicles cross Sweden's frontiers every year. Swedish Customs works in the midst of this flow of goods and people.
The work of Swedish Customs within the law enforcement field extends across the entire chain of a criminal investigation, from intelligence and checks at the customs channel to a completed preliminary investigation. Border protection officers, customs investigators and customs prosecutors work together to combat criminal activity. Customs officers have the right to stop and search individuals, interview, investigate and to search premises.