How To Become A Customs Officer In India (Skills And Duties)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A customs officer is a specialised official who is responsible for implementing customs law on behalf of the government. A career in the customs department may involve working at an airport or at a border crossing. Candidates who want to gain this prestigious and powerful position can benefit from learning the essential skills and career path of becoming a customs officer. In this article, we discuss how to become a customs officer in India and explore the essential skills and responsibilities of a customs officer.

How to become a customs officer in India

Here are the steps to become a customs officer in India:

1. Complete your graduation

After completing your higher secondary education, you can pursue a bachelor's degree with any subject from a recognised university. Candidates with a minimum of 55% marks are eligible to appear in the entrance examination for the customs officer. You can pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or in airline and airport management. Candidates can also study a foreign language during their graduation. Studying foreign languages can help customs officers interact better with people from other countries.

Related: How To Become An Income Tax Officer (Complete Guide)

2. Qualify the entrance examination

Candidates with a graduation degree become eligible appear in the entrance examination. You can start preparing for UPSC to become a customs officer at Group-A level and for SSC-CGL to become a customs officer at Group-B level. General and EWS category candidates have six attempts to qualify for the UPSC examination, while an OBC candidate has nine attempts to qualify. Here are the two ways through which you can enter the customs department as an officer:

  • UPSC exam: After qualifying in the UPSC examination, candidates can choose customs and central excise departments. Selected candidates get Group-A positions in central excise or customs departments.

  • SSC-CGL exam: After qualifying SSC-CGL, you can become a preventive officer, inspector of customs and central excise or an examiner of Indian customs. Selected candidates get Group-B level positions in the customs department.

You can regularly read newspapers to be aware of current affairs and increase general awareness. The syllabus for entrance examination of customs officers includes English, general awareness, GK and basic mathematics.

3. Prepare for the interview

Candidates who clear the written examination get short-listed for the interview round. There are a lot of things that can help you in performing well in customs officer interviews. Improving your communication skills is one of them. For an interview, choose a language you are comfortable and confident with. Ensure that you add correct and accurate information on your resume. After clearing the interview, you can enter the training period in the central excise department.

Skills for a customs officer

Candidates can develop the following skills to succeed as a customs officer:

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

Customs officers may meet people from different backgrounds and nationalities. They require excellent communication and interpersonal skills to effectively convey their ideas and explain laws to others. Interviewers prefer candidates with good communication skills when hiring for a customs officer's position. Good communication skills can ensure smooth and efficient transportation of passengers and goods. Customs officers communicate through various methods such as e-mail, internal intercoms, face-to-face or telephone systems. Their job involves inputting the correct information about goods and passenger details and completing the paperwork.


Customs officers may collaborate with other professionals such as flight attendants, airport security officers and other airport staff. Teamwork can help them with efficient transportation of goods and onboarding the aircraft on a regular basis. In any emergency, customs officers may coordinate with other trained and professional air staff to monitor the situation. Candidates who want to become a customs officer can develop listening skills, ability to cooperate and problem-solving skills to make teamwork efficient.


Discipline is an important skill for a customs officer, as they may take responsibility for all the imports and exports at the airport. They work both independently and in a team. In both cases, they require decisiveness and discipline. Aside from boosting your confidence and self-esteem, discipline can also increase your chances of advancing in the customs department. You can start with setting realistic goals and creating a better task-management system to develop self-discipline.

Attention to detail

Customs officers stay vigilant about minor details and are thorough in completing their tasks. Their duty is to prevent the import and export of dangerous goods into the country. Therefore, attention to details is an important skill for a customs officer. It can help them notice inconsistencies and find possible ways to improve them. With the right presence of mind, customs officers can analyse situations and prevent any criminal act at the airport. They keep attention on the laws and regulations and remember their responsibilities.

Physical stamina

Customs officers enter a training period during which they receive training for physical fitness, handling and shooting practise. The training period may differ for different positions and locations. Candidates can work towards improving their health, stamina and energy for becoming a customs officer. Customs officer may often work for long and irregular hours, which requires good physical stamina. Aside from physical stamina, they require a good mental stamina to be more resilient and assertive during any intense situation.

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What does a customs officer do

Here are some of the major duties and responsibilities of a customs officer:

  • inspecting luggages, documents, aircraft and cargo to monitor the border crossings

  • interviewing passengers when necessary to find their right to enter or leave the country

  • maintaining customs law and order during the import or export of goods

  • preventing any kind of criminal activities at the airport or border crossing

  • recording and documenting the import and export operations

  • monitoring the entrance activities to prevent illegal immigrants

  • explaining customs and laws to the public

  • looking after the country and the state of its affairs

  • collecting certain items that are subject to duties such as alcohol and tobacco-based products

Related: How To Get Jobs At The Airport: All You Need To Know

Average salary of a customs officer

The average salary of a customs officer is ₹22,383 per month. Their salaries may depend on the area of their posting. Factors like experience and certifications can also affect the pay scale of a customs officer. In general, customs officers with more experience can negotiate for higher salaries.

Frequently asked questions about a customs officer

Here are some common FAQs about becoming a customs officer:

What are the benefits of working as a customs officer?

Following are the benefits of working as a customs officer:

  • higher salary than other airport staff

  • prestige and respect in the society

  • travel allowances

  • opportunity to learn new things

  • job security

  • feeling of personal appreciation

What are the other related career opportunities?

Aside from customs officer, following job roles are prominent in this department:

  • tax assistant

  • airport manager

  • airport executive

What is the exam structure for SSC-CGL?

The SSC-CGL examination to become a customs officer comprises the following three stages:

  • Stage 1: At first, candidates appear in the preliminary written examination of SSC-CGL. The syllabus for this written test includes general awareness, general knowledge, reasoning, English and quantitative aptitude.

  • Stage 2: Only candidates qualifying for the preliminary exam can appear in the next written examination of SSC-CGL. The syllabus for this exam consists of English, quantitative ability, general studies and statistics.

  • Stage 3: The next stage is the personality test or an interview.

What is the exam structure of UPSC to become a customs officer?

The UPSC examination to become a customs officer consists of the following stages:

  • Prelims: Eligible candidates appear in the preliminary written exam of UPSC. The syllabus for this exam includes general knowledge, social studies, Indian polity and constitution, mathematical aptitude and general science.

  • Mains: Candidates qualifying the first stage of UPSC examination can appear in the mains examination. The important subjects for mains are English, general studies, optional paper and Indian languages.

  • Interview: This is the last step to become a customs officer through the UPSC exam. Candidates can practise their essential skills to qualify for the interview round.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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