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Old 29.03.2011, 21:13
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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I was actually suprised when a customs lady officer asked me to open trunk and then just went through bags, opening side pockets and getting receipts out bags. Without asking my permission. There was nothing of interest for her and she handled me our documents and said to go on.

I felt very intrusive.
It's what they do, and they have the right to do so.

In any country.

Tom
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:15
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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So it's illegal to lie?
Yes (fixed that for you).

Tom
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:16
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

If your car is stopped at the border, they can dismantle it in the search for contraband. And they're under no obligation to put it back together. There was a case a few years ago of a world class concert pianist, who shipped his piano everywhere he did a concert, where the US border guards suspected the glue was actually an explosive. So they destroyed a piano worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A Swiss friend of mine, had 2kg of sausage meat from Marktkauf, and was stopped at the border. The guard said that she'd exceeded the limit of 0.5kg of fresh meat. She said "it's not fresh meat, it's processed meat". He refused to accept this. She got quite annoyed, took note of his name from his identity card, and demanded to see his superior. Eventually the superior came out, and accepted her argument.

She then went to her local police (Allschwil) and asked them what the law was. They told her that she was correct that sausage meat is under the 3.5kg limit for processed meat, and that, even if it hadn't been, if the guard (or his superior!) considered it a genuine mistake, then she has a choice of paying the extra duty, or taking the meat back to the shop (or dumping it).

In the OP's case, the officer, for whatever reason, didn't accept that is was a mistake. Maybe that could have been mitigated by responding differently. I'd opt for very polite and conciliatory, my friend obviously went for the kill!

If the OP is concerned his/her rights have been violated, the first stop is the local police station, to ask them what the law is. If it turns out the customs officer behaved improperly, then the an official complaint should be made.

I suspect, however, that the OP has flounced by now, but I'm writing this in case it helps someone else at a later time!
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:20
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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It's what they do, and they have the right to do so.

In any country.

Tom
I am not an expert in this but I heard that in the US a police officer, absent a warrant, must demonstrate cause or a search is a civil rights violation. In the UK too a police officer cannot search you without cause, without explaining to you your rights, without telling you what the police officer believes he or she might find about your person (specifically), the reason for the search and providing you with their warrant card, name and number. All of these things must be done before the search takes place.
  #65  
Old 29.03.2011, 21:20
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

OP. At the end of the day you were caught smuggling. Smuggling is trying to bring something across the border without declaring it. As others have pointed out, ignorance of the law and the limits of stuff you can bring in tax free is not an excuse. As some others have pointed out, you can import as much meat as you like, but you must declare it and pay any duty owing.

You then lied to the customs officer when you said you had no money to pay the fine. Trust me (and I import a lot of food stuff in to CH), when you are at a customs post your are in a sort of limbo, neither in EU or CH and these guys have a lot of power. Weather they do have the power to forcibly remove cash from your wallet is another thing.

But of course, he did give you a receipt for the duty and fine, didn't he? So go to your local customs office and ask, if he didn't have the power then make a complaint, and for the benefit of the EF "community" report back on how you got on.
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:21
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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Yes (fixed that for you).

Tom
You're wrong. Obviously
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:26
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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I am not an expert in this but I heard that in the US a police officer, absent a warrant, must demonstrate cause or a search is a civil rights violation. In the UK too a police officer cannot search you without cause, without explaining to you your rights, without telling you what the police officer believes he or she might find about your person (specifically), the reason for the search and providing you with their warrant card, name and number. All of these things must be done before the search takes place.
Police officers have different powers from customs officers. Customs officers, in the UK, have frighteningly wide powers. As noted above, they can take your car apart at the border. They can enter your house without a search warrant. They can impose a fine, or assess you for duty, which you must pay - though you can contest it afterwards. They can't however, flag a car down on a public highway - they have to work with the police to do that.
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:34
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

To answer your question, I think they were wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right, and treating you like a criminal is going too far.
A professional individual would have given you a fine, taken your address / id, and sent you an invoice, or alternatively confiscated the meat.
I'm glad it wasn't me, as I would have probably got myself into more trouble!
Anyway, my advise it let it go, and you will know for next time!
Sorry for your troubles!
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:37
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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Police officers have different powers from customs officers. Customs officers, in the UK, have frighteningly wide powers. As noted above, they can take your car apart at the border. They can enter your house without a search warrant. They can impose a fine, or assess you for duty, which you must pay - though you can contest it afterwards. They can't however, flag a car down on a public highway - they have to work with the police to do that.
Im not sure how true this is. I know in the US the Border Guards are Fourth Amendment exempt but in the UK the writ of assistance hasn't been applicable since the early 19th century. http://www.yourrights.org.uk/yourrig...officials.html
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Old 29.03.2011, 21:52
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

I see two key topics in this thread meat and customs officers. The former is relevant to my interests.




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  #71  
Old 29.03.2011, 22:04
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

For what its worth their German counterparts can be just as zealous over different things. There they don't have a heavily-subsidised beef industry to protect but they will on occasion jump on anyone with a cigarette too many or an extra few ml of whisky.

Moral of the story is that the type of person who is attracted to being a customs officer varies little from country to country and I suspect have suffered abuse as children to make them want to spend their lives picking fault in others.

That Switzerland owes a large part of its success to servicing people who seek to evade payments of civic dues is an irony lost on these uniforms.
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:15
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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For what its worth their German counterparts can be just as zealous over different things. There they don't have a heavily-subsidised beef industry to protect but they will on occasion jump on anyone with a cigarette too many or an extra few ml of whisky.

Moral of the story is that the type of person who is attracted to being a customs officer varies little from country to country and I suspect have suffered abuse as children to make them want to spend their lives picking fault in others.

That Switzerland owes a large part of its success to servicing people who seek to evade payments of civic dues is an irony lost on these uniforms.
If you are not being serious there, I would seriously consider making your tongue in your cheek a bit more obvious. I have had to deal with many customs officers professionally, here, in the UK, Austria, Germany and France and have not had a problem with one. They can be officious and will follow the rules to a "T" (that is part of the job) but they have all been extremely professional and good natured.

I however, have never been caught smuggling and lying. I guess I might see another side to them if I ever did.
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:34
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

In my experience the customs officers are people too. They do their job professionally up to a point, then, depending on the scale-tipping reason, it could either go good or bad, e.g.: if you have a bad attitude with them, they will only take it for so long before starting to see you in a negative light, but if you are nice, smiling etc whatever they do, eventually you'll make a good impression and they will treat you more lightly.

I always ALWAYS am very polite, smiling, maybe throw in some jokes etc. and have always had good experiences from this. Last time I crossed the border with a fully loaded car of goods (not bought, personal), the session started with the guy looking through every single thing and ended with him monologuing and pointing at stuff ("so that's clothes, right? ok! that's food, right? ok! the car papers are in order, right? ok!...") and waving me off. On the other hand, a friend of mine who's a bit smug has trouble regularly and has had his items taken apart and laid on the pavement for hours more than once (but he tells me he has his principles and can't give them up, he'd rather wait for hours and "stand up to them").

Back to the OP, I would think that if he had a more assertive attitude, "the bill incident" might not have happened. Of course, this doesn't excuse the border officer's attitude, but tbh his side of the story would also be interesting to hear
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:36
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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They can't however, flag a car down on a public highway - they have to work with the police to do that.
Thanks to all the morons who voted for Schengen, they can now flag a car down on a public highway without aid of the police!

Tom
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:39
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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the type of person who is attracted to being a customs officer varies little from country to country and I suspect have suffered abuse as children to make them want to spend their lives picking fault in others.
You are TRULY demented!

I know several customs officers personally, and this is not even remotely true.

YOU are SICK.

Tom
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:40
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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Thanks to all the morons who voted for Schengen, they can now flag a car down on a public highway without aid of the police!

Tom
What's wrong with flagging a car down by the border officers? If you don't have anything wrong it doesn't matter who stops you.
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:48
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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What's wrong with flagging a car down by the border officers? If you don't have anything wrong it doesn't matter who stops you.
What he meant is, that customs have the right to flag you down (I believe, to be corrected) up to 20 km inland, not just at a border.
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:49
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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What's wrong with flagging a car down by the border officers? If you don't have anything wrong it doesn't matter who stops you.
The difference is that they can flag you down WITHIN Switzerland, and if you are moving stuff purchased outside of Switzerland within Switzerland after it was legally imported, but don't have paperwork to prove that, you can be in big trouble.

Much easier for all if they check you at the border.

A couple years ago, my girlfriend and I went for an evening stroll (she was living in Stabio at the time). Next thing we know, a customs car stops us (in the woods), asks for ID and all, and asks why are we there "Ummm, because we felt like a walk after dinner". Fortunately, we both had our Swiss IDs (we are both Swiss), and I made it clear that I was not pleased. They gave some lame excuse.

Thanks, Schengen a--h---s!

Tom
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Old 29.03.2011, 22:54
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

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What he meant is, that customs have the right to flag you down (I believe, to be corrected) up to 20 km inland, not just at a border.
Indeed, that was my point. And if you have foreign goods, say that your friend bought and paid for, and you pick up at his house (within CH) and bring to your house (also within CH) but have no customs papers for, it IS a problem.

And most of Ticino IS within 20km of the border.

Tom
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Old 29.03.2011, 23:01
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Re: Was the customs officer right or wrong?

I never had any problems be it in Switzerland, US, UK etc... with law enforcement officials. As long as you are courteous, I find that they reciprocate. When I hear stories of abuse, there is often (but not always) more to the story.
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