There are statutory powers of entry on business premises in connection with the enforcement and investigation of a range of Excise offences. Provisions are made in a wide variety of legislation. Generally, there is no power to enter a dwelling without a warrant.
There are rights of entry by authorised officers at all reasonable times into premises and places at which
- bets, liable to betting duty are believed to be accepted.
- excisable products are produced, processed, held, stored, kept or packaged for sale
- Where manufacturing, distribution, storage, repair, modification, dealing with or disposal of vehicles (vehicle registration tax)
- Where gaming machines are believed to be available for play;
- Where amusement machines are believed available for play.
There are powers to enter all parts of harbours, ports, airports, buildings, aircrafts, ships, boats and vehicles.
Officers of Customs may patrol upon and freely pass over any coast, railway, shores or banks of any river, creek or inlet. They may board any ship arriving at a port in the State and remain on board until all goods are delivered and have free access to every part of it. They may hold vessels ashore on any part of the coast or on any bank or river or inlet.
An officer may enter any place or premises where a business is conducted for the purpose of VAT legislation. They may enter premises or places where they reasonably believe records relating to goods subject to VAT or the Intrastat system are kept.
Authorised officers have very wide powers under the Taxes Act which also apply to excise legislation to enter any premises or place where there is reason to believe that any trade or profession is carried out, which is chargeable to tax, any records or documents relating to business are kept or any taxable property is kept.
They may require production of records and search for records not produced. They may examine property, remove and take copies andextracts. They may require assistance from persons at the premises, including to work a computer.
Apart from the provisions above in relation to the Taxes Act, legislation allows for inspection of books and records. There is legislation regarding
- excisable products generally,
- minerals oil,
- vehicle registration tax,
- gaming and amusement machine.
In each case, the authorised officer may inspect and take copies of books and records etc.
General customs legislation allows officers of Revenue on boarding any coasting ship to examine any goods on board and all documents connected with them. They may require the harbour authority to produce all books and records relating to vessels departing from and arriving in the harbour and cargo as may reasonably be required. They may request production of documents relating to the ownership, customs compliance and export authorisation of the goods on reasonable suspicion of attempted illegal exportation.
A search warrant may issue to officers of Customs and Excise to inspect books and documents relating to anything in contravention of Customs law.
An officer of Customs and Excise may take an account of goods landed at the key or in a custom warehouse. They may within three years of delivery to Customs of an entry or a specification or shipping bill, demand all information in relation to the goods as is reasonably required.
Customs authorities may require the production of commercial documents relating to import and export transactions at any time after goods have been cleared under the EU Custom Code.
An officer may request production of a complete inventory of goods in an approved form from a person conveying goods in or out of the State from a port, together with the goods conveyed. They may require production of records held by a licensed trader within a free port and may inspect and take copies of records.
An officer of Customs and Excise may examine documents relating to an aircraft, persons therein and the pilot or commander, a person in charge or require the production of documents on demand. An officer shall have a right of access to any place for the purpose of examining and boarding the aircraft.
There are extensive powers for customs officers to inspect goods and records. An authorised officer may enter premises and take samples of excisable goods or materials or ingredients used in their manufacture. They are not required to make payments.
Customs officers may on entry of goods or at any time thereafter, take samples of them, for such purposes as they deem necessary. An officer may take samples of goods, chargeable with customs or excise duties provided that if the charges have been paid, the price shall be paid for them.
An appropriate officer may take samples and analysis or undertake a more detailed examination of goods in the course of export. They may take samples of goods entered in free circulation and investigate whether they are counterfeit.
They have powers to take samples of mineral oil in any fuel tank. Samples may be taken of petrol or diesel at any place in the State. Samples may be taken of heavy oil and gas oil.
There are extensive provisions for searching premises. Officers of Customs and Excise may search any house or place under warrant where there is reasonable suspicion that there are good for which customs has not been paid or prohibited goods. They may search for and remove them.
An officer of Customs and Excise may, on reasonable ground for suspecting that any person is in possession of a controlled drug or documents relating to a transaction of dealing in a controlled drug, obtain a search warrant, to enter premises and land.
A search warrant may be issued to a named Customs and Excise officer where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting presence of books and documents relating to a smuggling offence.
There are several scenarios in the context of customs and excise where a premises may be entered under a statutory right of entry without warrant.
Premises may be entered and searched where bets are taken or on any registered betting premises.
An authorised officer may search any premises on which manufacture, distribution, storage of vehicles is reasonably believed to be carried out or where books relating to them are kept.
An authorised officer may search any premises in which excisable goods are being or reasonably believed to be processed, stored, or put up for sale. An officer of Customs and Excise or Member of An Garda Síochána may search a premises for the purpose of sampling mineral oil in a fuel tank.
Any public place for gaming and amusement machines are reasonably believed to be available for play may be searched under statutory right.
Officers of Customs and Excise may board any ship, boat, aircraft, vehicle, house etc. within the limits of a Customs Airport and the search for uncustomed goods.
There are powers for authorised officers to question persons in the context of investigating excise offences. There are separate provisions in relation to records concerning bookmaking, persons present on bookmaking premises and on suspected bookmaking premises.
An authorised officer may require information from persons present on premises use for excisable goods, materials, ingredients or other substances used in their manufacture or where documents or records relating to the same are kept.
There are similar powers in respect of questioning persons who, where Revenue or Garda Síochána, have reasonable cause to believe that the person is guilty of an offence in relation to tobacco tax stamps. An authorised officer may question the owner or person in charge of a vehicle in relation to mineral oil, which is either in the fuel tank of that vehicle or otherwise capable of being used for combustion in the engine.
An authorised officer may question persons in relation to a vehicle for the purpose of vehicle registration tax.
Generally, where an officer of Customs suspects that goods have been imported without payment of duty or without an import licence may ask questions of persons in whose possession or control the goods have been found or in whose home or premises or in the immediate vicinity. or where the goods have been found.
There are powers under all older legislation in relation to stopping and searching vehicle within certain distance of the land frontier. Officers of Customs may question persons entering or leaving the State regarding their baggage where third country, prohibited or restrictive good are believed to be involved. An officer may request a vehicle to be stopped and may question a person entering or leaving a port, about that person’s journey or any goods carried.
An officer may question a person about goods, which he suspects are intended for export in contravention of customs law and are found in that persons premises, possession or control or on his premises or on its immediate vicinity. An officer may board any ship and question the Master after clearance outwards within the limits of the port or within one league of the coast regarding a ship, cargo or voyage. The Master of every ship arriving from abroad may be questioned about the ship, cargo, crew and voyage. An authorised officer may require a person carrying on a business or who is employed to give all reasonable assistance including information and explanations in connection with the VIES records.
The legislation provides for powers of removal and detention of records. There are separate powers in relation to the removal of books and records relating to bookmaking, excisable products, vehicle registration tax, VIES and Intrastat obligations.
Officers may remove documents where fraud in relation to customs or excise duty. prohibitions or restrictions, are suspected/ The documents may be statutorily demand. An officer executing a warrant under the Customs Act may search for seize and remove books or documents found on premises being searched which he believes relate to transactions in contravention of Customs law.Books, records, documents etc. relating to VAT may be removed and detained.
The legislation provides powers to stop, search and detain vehicles. An officer in uniform may stop any vehicle in which excisable products or other products chargeable with excise duty or prohibited goods are being transported or reasonably believed to be transported. The person in charge of the vehicle must keep it stationery and must if required move it to a more suitable location.
An officer in uniform or a member of An Garda Síochána may search a vehicle for any purpose related to vehicle registration tax. It must be kept stationary for the purpose of examination and moved to a more suitable location, if required.
Customs legislation empowers officers to request the driver to stop a vehicle in motion, entering or leaving a port. A vehicle may be requested to be stopped within 20 miles of a custom free port. An officer of Customs and Excise may request a person in charge of a motor vehicle entering or leaving the State from a free port to stop and allow the officer examine the vehicle and take account of goods in it.
An officer in uniform may stop any vehicle for the purpose of examining and taking samples of fuel oil either in the vehicle or anything attached to it. The vehicle must be kept stationery and moved to a more suitable location if so required.
The Customs Consolidation Act gives powers to members, officers of customs and excise to stop and examine any vehicle where there is reasonable suspicion or probable cause that smuggled goods are being transported.
An officer of Customs and Excise may request the driver within 14 miles of the land frontier, provided there is reasonable doubt as to whether uncustomed goods or prohibited or restrictive goods are carried.
Each of the relevant pieces of legislation provide powers to search and detain vehicles when stopped and to detain goods. Person in charge of a vehicle must allow an authorised officer or accompanying officer to carry out a search of any vehicle or conveyance to establish whether excisable products being transported correspond in material respect with the accompanying documentation or that anything transported is liable to forfeiture under excise law.
There is provision for boarding, searching aircraft, boats and ships within the limits of a port. Goods found may be detained. Where an officer reasonably suspects that there are any excisable products or other goods, which are liable to forfeiture, all of the products concerned together with the means of conveyance or any vehicle involved may be detained until examination and enquiries have been made. They must be either seized or released when determination is made, in one month.
Where a member of An Garda Síochána reasonably suspects that vehicle has not been registered or any VRT has not been paid, the vehicle may be detained to allow examination, enquiries and investigations to be made. The vehicle must either be seized or released when a determination on the position is made within one month.
1988 Act provides for detention of imported or exported goods liable to duty or subject to prohibition or restriction for a period of one month, pending investigation. It also applies to ships, boards, carriages, aircrafts and things used in the importation or exportation of such goods.
Aircraft may be detained pending departing a customs airport, prior to clearance or departing to outside the State from anywhere other than a customs airport in relation to importation or exportation of goods. The owner and the pilot in command may not consent to or connive at contravention of instructions.
The Harbours Act provides that an officer may refuse clearance outwards unless a certificate of payment or notification of security in relation to harbour rates and light dues has been made.
There are provisions for forfeiture of goods and vehicles under the excise legislation. Vehicle may be forfeited where
- a concealed tanker or similar device is involved
- the owner or person in charge does not have a permanent address in the State proof of payment of tax on fuel oil has not been produced or
- a second or subsequent offence is involved.
There are provisions for forfeiture of mineral oil, either unmarked or imported without payment of excise duty or containing prohibited markers, red oil. An unmarked or imported vehicle may also be forfeited.
Customs legislation allows for forfeiture of imported goods and intercommunity acquisitions in breach of Customs and Excise legislation. Undeclared goods and imported baggage may be forfeit. A notice of claim shall be made within one month, the date of seizure.
There are comprehensive powers to search persons in the context of suspected contraventions of customs and excise legislation. A person on-board a ship or within the limits of a port or on landing from a ship is to be searched if an officer has reason to suspect the presence of uncustomed or prohibited goods. A person may be searched where an officer has reason to suspect the presence of goods on the person, the export or attempted export of which is prohibited.
There are provision for searching persons within the vicinity of the port and airport or land frontier where an officer reasonably suspects a person is in possession of a controlled drug. Persons found on premises or land subject to a search warrant for control drugs may be searched by officers of Customs and Excise.
The Gardai may arrest a person who fails to produce bookmaking licence or fails to give his name and address. An officer or Garda may arrest without warrant, a person whom he reasonably suspects has committed an offence, in relation to the evasion of excise duty. He may be arrested without warrant where he is reasonably suspected of committing offences in relation to oil laundering or dealing in oil.
An officer may arrest a person reasonably suspected of committing an offence in relation to
- the illicit production or processing of alcohol products;
- removing alcohol denaturants;
- dealing in illicit alcohol products or keeping or delivering prohibited goods, including illicit production equipment at any premises or land.
An officer of customs and excise may arrest a person obstructing him in the prevention of smuggling.
A authorised officer of the Revenue Commissioner who has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is committing an offence in relation to unstamped tobacco products may detain, present and bring a person to a Garda who may arrest him.
Officers of customs and excise may on any any land or water arrest any person liable to be arrested under the Customs Acts or other legislation. A person may be arrested, if found on board a boat or ship liable to forfeiture on foot of a customs offence where there is reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in the offence.
A person may be arrested, who is illegally importing, delivering, removing or knowingly harbouring any prohibited or restricted goods or fraudulently evading or attempting to evade customs charges.