Created by an Act of Legislature in 1952, the Department of Customs (formerly the Bureau of Customs & Excise) of the Liberia Revenue Authority is principally responsible for the collection of border taxes on goods imported or exported from Liberia. The main taxes collected by Customs include import duties, international goods and service tax (GST) and excise tax for excisable goods. The Department is also responsible for the collection of other border fees (where applicable) including the ECOWAS Trade Levy (ETL) on imports from non ECOWAS origin, customs user fees, export fees and royalties on mineral exports. As the lead border agency for processing international trade in goods, the department has the absolute responsibility to serve as the repository for international trade statistics.
In addition to its fiscal responsibility, the department has a security-related function thereby making it a para-security institution and a member of the National Security Council. The Department of Customs performs its security role within the framework of coordinated border management inclusive of all relevant national security agencies in order that the security of the state is ensured.
Moreover, the changing trends in global commerce and the demand on customs to process trade in the 21st Century at an unprecedented speed; and the growing concerns about the environment places additional layers of responsibility on the Department of Customs for trade facilitation and environmental protection.
These somewhat opposing objectives for environmental protection, national security and trade facilitation on the one hand and revenue protection on the other hand are simultaneously achieved by the Department by maintaining the appropriate balance between physical controls of cargo movement and trade facilitation for compliant traders. Customs border operations are managed through seventeen land border posts, seaports and airports known as Custom Business Offices (CBOs).
These functions are executed within the framework of the Revenue Code of Liberia 2000 as amended and several international instruments to which Liberia is a contracting party. Customs also collaborates with regional and global customs intelligence networks for effective border security. In addition to international cooperation, the Department of Customs also encourages consultative engagement with the private sector and other local stakeholders in dealing with matters of border procedures, regulations and customs requirements.