History of the Jamaica Customs Agency

It is difficult to pinpoint an actual start date for the collection of customs duties in Jamaica. However, in 1867, a detailed list of duties on imports and exports was established.   In 1877, a law was enacted which made provisions for:

  1. The establishment of wharves, ports and warehouses
  2. The appointment of customs officers
  3. The payment of drawbacks, bonds and securities
  4. The registration of ships and airplanes
  5. Modes of entry required for the importer and or exporter
  6. The importation and warehousing of goods

The Collector General's Department is the first revenue agency to be historically documented. It was appointed in 1868, with the primary responsibility of collecting revenue on all imports with the exception of the Post Master General. It was also responsible for the collection of taxes on income and property, licensing fees and other business related taxes.
In 1985, the Jamaican Government established the Inland Revenue Department to promote greater accountability and to augment revenue collection. The Department was divided into the Customs and Excise Department and the Inland Revenue Department. In October 1991, the Jamaican Government, in conjunction with the World Bank, reorganized the revenue service along functional lines. One element of the reorganization was the further sub-division of the Customs and Excise Department into the Jamaica Customs Department and General Consumption Tax (GCT) Department.

Subsequently, the Jamaica Customs Department performed its duties under the banner of the Tax Administration Directorate. At that time the Directorate included five departments:

  • Inland Revenue Department (IRD),
  • Taxpayers Audit and Assessment Department (TAAD),
  • Taxpayer Appeals Department (TAD),
  • Tax Administration Services Department (TASD)and the
  • Jamaica Customs Department

On March 28, 2013, the Jamaica Customs Department was designated the status of Executive Agency to fully perform as such effective April 2, 2013 (see designation document below). The Agency is currently going through a number of organizational changes in accordance with its proposed long term Modernization Plan.


Jamaica Customs has three specific mandates: The equitable collection of revenue, protection of Jamaica’s borders against illicit imports and the facilitation of trade.  JCA carries out these functions by:

  • Assessing and collecting customs duties, fees, and penalties due on imports;
  • Interdicting and seizing contraband, including narcotics and illegal drugs;
  • Processing passengers, baggage, cargo and mail;
  • Detecting and apprehending persons engaged in fraudulent practices designed to circumvent Customs related laws;
  • Protecting Jamaica's industries, labour and intellectual property rights by enforcing Jamaica's laws intended to prevent illegal trade practices, including provisions related to quotas; the Anti-Dumping Act; and by providing Customs Records for copyrights, patents, trademarks;
  • Protecting the general welfare and security of Jamaica by enforcing import and export restrictions and prohibitions, including money laundering.

All customs activities are governed by the Customs Act. In addition to its own laws, Customs enforces over 125 other provisions of law for other agencies.


A modern customs administration, delivering excellent service, fostering compliance and contributing to our national development and protection of society.


To facilitate trade, protect our borders, optimise revenue collection, through collaborative border management and delivery of high quality customer services and to  develop and maintain a team of motivated professional and competent staff.